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William Daniels

at the Emmy Awards, September 20, 1987
Born William David Daniels
March 31, 1927 (1927-03-31) (age 82)
Brooklyn, New York, United States

William David Daniels[1] (born March 31, 1927) is an American actor and former president of the Screen Actors Guild (1999 to 2001). He is known for his performance as Dustin Hoffman's father in The Graduate (1967), as John Adams in 1776, as Mr. George Feeny in ABC's Boy Meets World, the voice of KITT in Knight Rider, and winning two Emmy Awards for the role of Dr. Mark Craig in St. Elsewhere.


Early life

Daniels was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Irene and David Daniels, a builder.[1] He graduated from Northwestern University in 1949 where he was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity. He has been married to actress and fellow Emmy Award-winner Bonnie Bartlett since June 30, 1951. They have two children.


His motion picture debut was as a school principal in the 1963 anti-war drama Ladybug Ladybug. In 1967 he starred in The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman, and Anne Bancroft. In 1969, Daniels starred as John Adams in the musical 1776, as well as appearing in the movie version in 1972. Two years later, he co-starred with Larry Hagman, Linda Blair and Mark Hamill in Richard Donner's telefilm Sarah T. - Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic. Daniels' first television appearance came in 1952 when he portrayed the young John Quincy Adams, eldest son of John and Abigail Adams in the Hallmark Hall of Fame drama A Woman for the Ages. In 1976, he reprised the role as the middle-aged and elder John Quincy Adams in the acclaimed PBS miniseries The Adams Chronicles (George Grizzard played John Adams). He provided the voice of KITT in Knight Rider from 1982 to 1986, again in 1991 (he requested not to be credited for that work), again in the movie The Benchwarmers, and twice in The Simpsons.[2] He appeared as acid-tongued (but well-meaning) Dr. Mark Craig in St. Elsewhere from 1982 to 1988, for which he won two Emmy awards. Daniels then portrayed teacher George Feeny at John Adams High School in Boy Meets World from 1993 to 2000.

Daniels had a successful career as a stage actor; besides 1776, his Broadway credits include On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and A Little Night Music. He earned an Obie Award for The Zoo Story (1960). He has also appeared in several other films.

He put in a memorable appearance in one episode of Soap as Heinrich Himmel, a German private investigator hired to investigate the murder of Peter Campbell. Benson decided to pick him up and sit him on their dessert.


In 1986, both Daniels and his wife Bonnie Bartlett, who also played his fictional wife on St. Elsewhere and Boy Meets World, won Emmy Awards on the same night, becoming the first married couple to accomplish the feat since Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in 1965. Lunt and Fontanne were the first to win Emmy Awards for a film, and Bartlett and Daniels were the first couple to win for a series.

Northwestern University's annual William Daniels Awards (the "Willies") honors the top performers, directors, choreographers, etc. in campus theatre productions throughout the year.



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