The wife of a Boy Meets World star revealed she and her husband had an open marriage during their early years together, but that she had to call the arrangement off because she couldn’t handle it.
Bonnie Bartlett Daniels, whose husband William Daniels played the teacher George Feeny in the 90s sitcom, said their arrangement wasn’t uncommon at the time and that they knew many others who had open marriages.
The 93-year-old actress married William, 95, in 1951 and they have been together for 72 years. But Bonnie told Fox News Digital it wasn’t always smooth sailing, saying the open marriage was ‘very painful’ and that she eventually had to tell William they had to find a new arrangement.
The St. Elsewhere star’s revelation came as she publishes her new memoir, Middle of the Rainbow, which she said is intended to serve as a ‘history of women’s experiences.’
Bonnie told Fox News Digital it wasn’t always smooth sailing, saying the open marriage was ‘very painful’ and that she eventually had to tell William they had to find a new arrangement
Bonnie Bartlett Daniels and husband William Daniels have been married for 72 years
Bonnie married William when she was just 18 years-old and had never dated anybody else.
‘I guess it was a little bit of an open marriage at first, but that was very painful,’ she told Fox. ‘That didn’t work well. And it was a time when people were doing that.’
‘It was at a time in New York when there was a lot of sex and a lot of people doing all kinds of things, you know – very free.’
‘But I don’t know if there was a lack of commitment a little bit, and that’s not good. So there was a lot of pain connected with any transgression, with any extramarital thing.’
Bonnie Bartlett Daniels and husband William Daniels in 1986 after winning Emmy Awards for St. Elsewhere
William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett Daniels in together in New York City in 2015
In her memoir, Bonnie wrote about how she looked for a ‘kinder and gentler man’ than William to see during the early days of their marriage.
She described having ‘an affair that lasted a few months’ in 1959. Bonnie said it was with a ‘slightly boring actor,’ but added that ‘the sex was good.’
‘I never felt guilty because I never felt tied to fidelity, and neither did Bill,’ she said.
Bonnie wrote that in the early 1970s William began seeing a producer, and that the relationship ‘devastated’ her.
After that experience, she said she ‘could no longer tolerate any kind of open marriage.’
Bonnie Bartlett Daniels poses during a photoshoot in 1955. She married William in 1951
Bonnie starred alongside her husband in the show St. Elsewhere. The pair won an Emmy for their performances
Bonnie wrote that she thought their marriage was ‘doomed’ after that affair.
‘Bill and I have moved forward day-by-day and eventually, the days added up,’ she wrote. ‘We’ve been happy together and sad together, and somehow stayed together for seven decades.’
‘It was very painful for the both of us,’ the 93-year-old shared. ‘But it was something we had to go through because we never went through it. When we got together I was 18. Bill was my first boyfriend,’ she said. ‘We just had to go through all that and still, we loved each other very much and always have.
‘[We] have always been there for each other. That’s what matters – if you’re there for the person and help [them] along in a relationship, [have] respect for them and what they’re doing and being there for them. [You have to] be together on the other side.’
William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett Daniels in Los Angeles in 1995
William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett Daniels in Hollywood in 2017
Bonnie, who starred alongside her husband in the show St. Elsewhere, told Fox she was inspired to start writing the memoir during the #MeToo movement.
‘The MeToo thing was starting, and I said, ‘You know, if I were to write something, I don’t want it to be about my career only.
‘I would want it to be a history of women’s experiences and how men have treated women.’
‘So many of us have been through so much,’ Bonnie said. ‘But now I can tell my own story.’
Bonnie Bartlett Daniels’ new memoir, Middle of the Rainbow