William Daniels

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  • Trivia

    • In honor of William's acting abilities, Northwestern University gives out William Daniels Awards for performers, directors, and choreographers that excel in campus theater productions.

    • In 2010 Daniels lent his voice, as his Knight Rider character, K.I.T.T., to a series of ads in the U.K. for a car repair firm called Kwik-Fit.

    • William Daniels was nominated for a Tony award for "Best Actor - Supporting or Featured - Musical," in 1969 for his role as John Adams in 1776. He refused the nomination, insisting that he should have been nominated in the category of "Lead Actor in a Musical."

    • William Daniels is 5' 7'' tall and has blue eyes.

    • William Daniels recorded the lines for KITT (Knight Rider) at a recording studio. While the show was being filmed KITT's lines were read by a script person. Daniels didn't meet David Hasselhoff until they met at a Christmas party.

    • William and his wife, actress Bonnie Bartlett are the parents of two grown sons, Michael, an opera singer, and Robert, who is an artist.

    • William's hobbies include playing chess, tennis and classical guitar. He also enjoys cooking and reading.

    • William was nominated for The Q Award from the Viewers for Quality Television in 1986 and 1987. He won the award for Best Actor in a Quality Drama Series (St. Elsewhere) both years.

    • William made his stage debut as a tap dancer at the age of 4 1/2. He and his sister performed as a song-and-dance act. Sometime later, while still children, William and his younger sisters, Jacqueline and Carol, had their own radio show called "The Daniels Family."

    • William served as President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1999-2001. During his tenure William led an actor's strike against advertisers, called the Commercial Strike, protesting the advertisers' decision to stop making residual payments to actors every time their commercial airs, and paying them a flat fee at the time the commercial shoots instead. The strike began in May of 2000, and ended in October 2000 with the actors demands being met.

    • Early in his career William appeared in many broadway productions, including "Cat on A Hot Tin Roof," The Iceman Cometh," "Look Back In Anger" and Edward Albee's "The Zoo Story," for which he won the Clarence Derwent Award.

    • William met Bonnie Bartlett at Northwestern University, where they were both Drama majors. They were married June 30, 1951.

    • At the suggestion of playwrite Howard Lindsey, who wrote "Life With Father," a young William chose to attend Northwestern University because of its outstanding drama department. William graduated from Northwestern University in 1949.

    • William joined the road company of the play "Life With Father" as assistant stage manager when he was just 15 years old. He was also understudy for the roles of the two boys of the family. He would later play both roles in the Broadway production.

    • William's role as the voice of K.I.T.T. on Knight Rider was uncredited.

    • William's character of Dr. Mark Craig from "St. Elsewhere" was named number 77 on "Bravo's 100 Greatest TV Characters".

    • William was the President of American Society of Cinematographers from 1961-1963.

    • William and his wife Bonnie Bartlett have both won Emmy's.

    • In 1969, he starred as John Adams in the musical 1776, as well as appearing in the movie version in 1972.

    • Even though he was only ten years older, he played Dustin Hoffman's father in the comedy "The Graduate" in 1967.

    • Every year from 1983-1987 William was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his work on St. Elsewhere. He won the Emmy in 1985 and 1986 for his role as Dr. Mark Craig.

    • Brother of the Sigma Nu fraternity.

    • Daniels has played a character with the first name George twice: on Boy Meets World and Touched by an Angel.

    • In the film 1776, Daniels played John Adams. In his most prominent role as George Feeny, he was the principal of John Adams High School.

    • William, who is married to Bonnie Bartlett in real-life, was married to Bonnie's character on Touched by an Angel. They also portrayed husband and wife on NBC's '80s medical drama St. Elsewhere, and the characters they portrayed on the '90s sitcom Boy Meets World were married near the end of the series run.

  • Quotes

    • William Daniels: (thoughts on reading the first script for Boy Meets World) Feeny reminded me of the character John Houseman played in The Paper Chase.

    • William Daniels: (when asked if he had any backlash from the studios since becoming president of the Screen Actors Guild) Well, I haven't worked. Nobody's asked me to work, not since the series ("Boy Meets World") was over, which is a year now. It doesn't bother me, but there it is. Actors don't retire, the phone just stops ringing. I'm not worried about paying my rent. To me, (SAG) was something I could do for my fellow actors since I'm one of the lucky ones. When I took (the presidency) I was doing a series -- "Boy Meets World" -- and I suspected that since it was in its seventh year, it probably wouldn't go on. But I'm glad it didn't, because I would never have been able to do this job and a series like that, day in and day out.

    • William Daniels: (on playing the voice of K.I.T.T. on Knight Rider) He's computerized, but I won't let him come on cold. I created KITT. I understand the personality of the car.

    • William Daniels: (giving advice to aspiring actors) I studied and fought with Lee Strasberg for four years. During this time, I expanded my range and explored weak areas in my work. I was lucky to finally develop a range in both Comedy and Drama that was useful to the Producers and Writers. Maybe it's different today-but if you still want to be an actor, good luck!

    • William Daniels: (giving advice to aspiring actors) Having been a child actor, I was used to being obedient; so it took me years to get the courage to do my own work and not always obey the director. Then I found that my instincts and experience were more reliable than others.

    • William Daniels: (on his early career) Every actor has a different story. For several years in the fifties I made less than two thousand dollars per year (my wife worked). I couldn't get an agent in New York until after appearing in Edward Albee's Zoo Story and winning the Clarence Derwent award. Before that, nobody was interested.

    • William Daniels: (On the differences between playing Dr. Mark Craig and K.I.T.T.) I played K.I.T.T. for laughs and Dr. Mark Craig as a serious surgeon. I sometimes did a funny scene as K.I.T.T. and then would go and do a heart transplant on the set of St. Elsewhere. It's quite a challenge. I enjoyed it more than you can imagine.

    • William Daniels: (on fan reaction to him as the voice of K.I.T.T on Knight Rider) When the kids asked me what show I was in, I'd tell them I play Dr. Mark Craig on St. Elsewhere. I wasn't getting much of a reaction at all. Some of them turned away. Finally when another group of kids asked me what I play on TV I told them I do the voice of the car on Knight Rider. They said, "Hey say something." I talked and the kids yelled, "That's right! You're him! After that, I was an instant hit!"

    • William Daniels: (when asked about working on both St. Elsewhere and Knight Rider at the same time) It was phenomenal. I was doing two ongoing series, each totally different from the other, and they were both successful.