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‘St. Elsewhere’ star Bonnie Bartlett Daniels defends previous open marriage: ‘The love has by no means stopped’

Bonnie Bartlett Daniels and her husband of 72 years, William Daniels, beforehand had an open marriage – and the actress mentioned it was the norm in her day.

“You must notice that we reside in a really puritanical nation nonetheless,” the actress instructed Folks journal on Tuesday. “[When we got married], folks had been simply free about issues… You must have lived throughout that point as an grownup to see what that was like. The tradition is solely totally different.”

Nonetheless, the “St. Elsewhere” star admitted it was not simple.

“The one factor is that it harms you, does some injury to your shallowness,” the 93-year-old mirrored. “It hurts actually badly.”


On the time, the couple was dwelling in New York Metropolis. Bartlett Daniels instructed the outlet that leaving the town improved their marriage.

“Hollywood was actually the saving grace for our marriage as a result of as soon as we obtained to Hollywood and we had been right here and dwelling like a standard household and having weekends at residence with our youngsters and doing issues, it was [a] completely totally different story,” she defined. “No person wished something greater than that.”

Bartlett Daniels mentioned there have been instances when she instructed Daniels, “I don’t assume I need to be married to you anymore.” He would reply, “Oh, come on, you’re smitten with me.”

“… He makes me snicker,” she mentioned. “The wedding may have damaged aside at any time these first 10 years, if one in every of us had, say, fallen in love with anyone, however we by no means did. That was by no means a part of it. Each of us actually wished to be collectively. The love has by no means stopped.”


Bartlett Daniels lately launched a memoir titled “Center of the Rainbow.” In it, she detailed her rise to stardom, how she coped with childhood abuse and different private tragedies, in addition to the story behind her decades-long relationship with the actor. The 2-time Emmy winner has been married to Daniels, acknowledged by many as Mr. Feeny from “Boy Meets World,” since 1951.

“I assume it was a bit of little bit of an open marriage at first, however that was very painful,” Bartlett Daniels beforehand instructed Fox Information Digital. “That didn’t work properly. And it was a time when folks had been doing that. It was at a time in New York when there was loads of intercourse and lots of people doing every kind of issues, you understand – very free. However I don’t know if there was a scarcity of dedication a bit of bit, and that’s not good. So there was loads of ache related with any transgression, with any extramarital factor.”

“It was very painful for the each of us,” she shared. “However it was one thing we needed to undergo as a result of we by no means went by way of it. Once we obtained collectively I used to be 18. Invoice was my first boyfriend… We simply needed to undergo all that and nonetheless, we beloved one another very a lot and at all times have. [We] have at all times been there for one another. That’s what issues – in the event you’re there for the individual and assist [them] alongside in a relationship, [have] respect for them and what they’re doing and being there for them… [You have to] be collectively on the opposite aspect.”

In line with Bartlett Daniels’ guide, she started to search for a “kinder and gentler man” within the early years of her marriage with Daniels, now 95. Someday in 1959, she had “an affair that lasted a couple of months” with an actor who was “barely boring.” Nonetheless, “the intercourse was good.”


“I by no means felt responsible as a result of I by no means felt tied to constancy, and neither did Invoice,” she wrote.

The fling got here and went. Within the guide, she additionally described how within the early ‘70s, Daniels’ affair with a feminine producer in New York left her “devastated.” By then, she “may now not tolerate any form of open marriage.”

It appeared that their relationship was doomed, however the pair weathered the storm as they “grew up.”

“Invoice and I’ve moved ahead day-by-day and ultimately, the times added up,” she wrote. “We’ve been completely happy collectively and unhappy collectively, and someway stayed collectively for seven many years.”


Barlett Daniels famous that they’ve come a good distance since they first went on a date whereas attending Northwestern College.

“Life is all about fixing issues,” Bartlett Daniels mirrored. “We had an excellent relationship, [but] Invoice was an offended younger man, a really offended younger man. And that was robust… Invoice at all times mentioned, ‘We had three totally different marriages. We’ve been collectively for therefore lengthy, greater than 70 years – a very long time. I’m 93, and I met Invoice after I was 18, so we needed to develop up collectively.”

Bartlett Daniels’ final credited function was in 2017’s “Higher Name Saul.” Right this moment, she resides in Southern California along with her beloved husband. They’re proud dad and mom to 2 sons, they usually spend a lot of their time with their grandchildren.

“I’m writing at such a late age,” she chuckled. “Some folks might imagine, ‘Why is she doing this now? She’s so outdated.’ I assume for a very long time I by no means felt the necessity in any respect. However then as I obtained older, I assumed I had some historical past to inform… Invoice and I’ve been very fortunate that issues labored out. There’s no magic method. We’ve simply been fortunate.”

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