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William Daniels

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This article is about the actor who portrays George Feeny. You may be looking for the actor who portrays Alan Matthews.

William David Daniels (born March 31, 1927) is an American actor and former president of the Screen Actors Guild (1999-2001). He is known for his performance as Dustin Hoffman's father in The Graduate (1967), as Howard in Two for the Road, as John Adams in 1776, as Carter Nash in Captain Nice, as Mr. George Feeny in ABC's Boy Meets World, as the voice of KITT in Knight Rider, and as Dr. Mark Craig in St. Elsewhere, for which he won two Emmy Awards.

Early life

William Daniels was born in Brooklyn, New York to Irene and David Daniels, although he has spoken with a Boston accent in many of his roles. His father was a builder. 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. The couple has two children.

Career

William Daniels began his career as a member of the singing Daniels family in Brooklyn, New York. He made his television debut as part of a variety act (along with other members of his family) in 1943, on NBC, then a single station in New York.

He made his Broadway debut in 1945 in Life With Father, and remained a busy Broadway actor for decades afterwards. His Broadway credits include roles in 1776, A Thousand Clowns, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, and A Little Night Music. He earned an Obie Award for The Zoo Story (1960).

Daniels' motion picture debut was as a school principal in the 1963 anti-war drama Ladybug Ladybug. In 1965, he reprised his Broadway role as a child welfare worker in the screen version of A Thousand Clowns. In 1967 he starred in The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft. In 1969, Daniels starred as John Adams in the Broadway musical 1776; he also appeared in the film 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 network 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 appeared as acid-tongued (but well-meaning) Dr. Mark Craig in St. Elsewhere from 1982 to 1988, for which he won two Emmy awards. Almost simultaneously, he provided the voice of KITT in Knight Rider from 1982 to 1986. Daniels said in 1982, "My duties on Knight Rider are very simple. I do it in about an hour and a half. I've never met the cast. I haven't even met the producer." Daniels requested that he not receive on screen credit for the role.

He reprised the voice-only role of KITT in 1991 for the television movie Knight Rider 2000, again in the movie The Benchwarmers, yet again in AT&T and GE commercials about talking machines, and twice in The Simpsons as well as at the Comedy Central Roast of his co-star David Hasselhoff.

Daniels then portrayed teacher (later principal) George Feeny at John Adams High School in Boy Meets World from 1993 to 2000. Daniels also starred in the 1967 superhero sitcom Captain Nice, and was a regular on the 1970s TV series Freebie and the Bean and The Nancy Walker Show. A familiar character actor, he has appeared as a guest star on numerous TV comedies and dramas, including Soap, The Rockford Files, Quincy, M.E., and many others.

In 2012, Daniels appeared in the 9th season of Grey's Anatomy as Dr. Craig Thomas, an unlikely mentor to the character of Dr. Cristina Yang played by actress Sandra Oh. His character, Dr. Thomas, died in the operating room while performing a procedure to repair a heart defect midway through the season, which forced Yang to move back to Seattle.

It was announced that he had agreed to reprise his role as George Feeny in Girl Meets World, the then-upcoming spin off to Boy Meets World. He has a recurring role in GMW, as he has been seen in a handful of episodes.

Trivia

  • As a child, took part in his family's traveling song and dance troupe called "The Daniels Family"
  • Graduated from Northwestern University in 1949.
  • Married to Bonnie Bartlett, another actor on Boy Meets World, on June 30, 1951.
    • They have three children.
  • Played Dustin Hoffman's father in The Graduate in 1967.
  • Played John Adams in 1776 in both the theater version (1969) and the film version (1972).
    • Was nominated for a Tony for his portrayal of Adams in the theater version.
  • Provided the voice of KITT in Knight Rider from 1982 to 1986.
  • Appeared as Dr. Mark Craig in St. Elsewhere from 1982 to 1988. He won an Emmy for the role.
  • Was the president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) from 1999 to 2001.
  • Currently resides in Studio City, California.

Gallery

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The image gallery for William Daniels may be viewed here.

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