William David Daniels (born March 31, 1927) is an American actor, known for his roles as Dr. Mark Craig in the NBC drama St. Elsewhere, for which he won two Emmy Awards, and as Mr. Feeny in the ABC sitcom Boy Meets World. He was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1999 to 2001.
He is also associated with his performances as the father of Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) in The Graduate (1967), as Howard in Two for the Road, as John Adams in the 1972 musical film 1776, as Carter Nash in Captain Nice, and as the voice of KITT in Knight Rider. In 2014, he returned to his role as Mr. Feeny in Girl Meets World, the sequel to Boy Meets World.William Daniels was born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States to Irene and David Daniels. His father was a bricklayer. He has two sisters, Jacqueline and Carol. Daniels speaks, especially in performances, with a Boston Brahmin accent that has transatlantic influences.
Daniels was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1945 and stationed in Italy, where he served as a disc jockey at an Army radio station. At the suggestion of Howard Lindsay, co-author of Life With Father, who recommended he use the GI Bill to attend a college with a good drama department, Daniels enrolled at Northwestern University. He graduated from Northwestern in 1949, and was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity.
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Daniels began his career as a member of the singing Daniels family in Brooklyn. 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 1943 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 received an Obie Award for The Zoo Story (1960).
Daniels's motion picture debut was as a school principal in the 1963 anti-war drama film 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 appeared in The Graduate as the father of Dustin Hoffman's character. 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 in Richard Donner's telefilm Sarah T. - Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic.
Daniels's 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. He starred in the short-lived series Captain Nice as police chemist Carter Nash. He appeared as acid-tongued Dr. Mark Craig in St. Elsewhere from 1982-88, for which he won two Emmy awards. Concurrently, he provided the voice of KITT in Knight Rider from 1982-86. 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."
He reprised the voice-only role of KITT in 1991 for the television movie Knight Rider 2000, and again in the movie The Benchwarmers. He performed the role 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. He reprised the role of KITT in the 2015 Lego-themed action-adventure video game Lego Dimensions.
Daniels portrayed teacher (later principal) George Feeny at John Adams High School in Boy Meets World from 1993 to 2000. In addition to the previously mentioned 1967 superhero sitcom Captain Nice, he 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., Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and many others. In 2012, Daniels appeared in the ninth 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.
In 2014, Daniels reprised his role as Mr. Feeny in the pilot episode of the Boy Meets World spinoff, Girl Meets World. His role was a cameo at the end credits praising the adult Cory Matthews for his parenting. He made additional appearances in the second and third seasons.
Personal lifeDaniels with wife Bonnie Bartlett at the 1987 Emmy Awards
Daniels has been married to actress and fellow Emmy Award-winner Bonnie Bartlett since June 30, 1951. In 1961, Bartlett gave birth to a son, who died just 24 hours later. They later adopted two children: Michael, who became an assistant director and stage manager in Los Angeles, and Robert, who became an artist and computer graphics designer based in New York City.
Bartlett and Daniels both served on the Screen Actors Guild's Board of Directors.
Daniels endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election.
Awards and honors
Daniels refused the 1969 Tony Award nomination for Featured Actor in a Musical in 1776 due to his insistence that the part of John Adams was a leading role rather than supporting. He was ruled to be ineligible for the Best Actor nomination because of the technicality that his name was not billed above the title of the show.
In 1986, Daniels and Bartlett, who 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 for a production of The Magnificent Yankee for the Hallmark Hall of Fame.
|1963||Ladybug Ladybug||Mr. Calkins|
|1965||A Thousand Clowns||Albert Amundson|
|1967||Two for the Road||Howard Manchester|
|The Graduate||Mr. Braddock|
|The President's Analyst||Wynn Quantrill|
|1974||The Parallax View||Austin Tucker|
|1977||Black Sunday||Harold Pugh|
|Oh, God!||George Summers|
|1978||The One and Only||Mr. Crawford|
|1980||The Blue Lagoon||Arthur Lestrange|
|1981||All Night Long||Richard H. Copleston|
|1987||Blind Date||Judge Harold Bedford|
|1994||Magic Kid 2||Manny|
|2006||The Benchwarmers||KITT||Voice, uncredited|
|2007||Blades of Glory||Commissioner Ebbers|
|1952||A Woman for the Ages||John Quincy Adams||TV movie|
|1956||Robert Montgomery Presents||Donald Kemper||Episode: "Three Men From Tomorrow"|
|Armstrong Circle Theatre||Leonard Gregory||Episode: "Five Who Shook the Mighty"|
Episode: "Separate Parents"
Episode: "The Spy Next Door"
|1959||Brenner||Larry Dyer||Episode: "Man in the Middle"|
|Naked City||Herbert Grafton
|Episode: "A Kettle of Precious Fish"|
Episode: "Idyllis of a Running Back"
|Episode: "The Locked Room"|
Episode: "A Voice Loud and Clear"
|1963||East Side/West Side||Principal Costigan||Episode: "I Before E Except After C"|
|The Doctors and the Nurses||Vernon Kane
|Episode: "Field of Battle"|
Episode: "A Couple of Dozen Tiny Pills"
|1965||For the People||Fred Rice||Episode: "Any Benevolent Purpose"|
|1966||T.H.E. Cat||Tony Webb||Episode: "The Ring of Anasis"|
|1967||Captain Nice||Carter Nash / Captain Nice||Main cast; 15 episodes|
|1968||The Good Guys||Arnold Schreck||Episode: "Let 'em Eat Rolls"|
|1968||The Ghost & Mrs. Muir||Blair Thompson||Episode: "Mr. Perfect"|
|1969||Judd, for the Defense||Harry Stratton||Episode: "Epitaph on a Computer Card"|
|1972||Cannon||Dale Corey||Episode: "Hear No Evil"|
|1973||Love, American Style||Alan||Segment: "Love and the Old Lover"|
|1973||Ironside||Stillwald, the Bank Manager||Episode: "All Honorable Men"|
|1973||Murdock's Gang||Roger Bates||TV movie|
|1973||The Fabulous Doctor Fable||Elliot Borden||TV movie|
|Episode: "Butch Cassidy Rides Again"|
Episode: "The Day New York Turned Blue"
|1974||Kolchak: The Night Stalker||Police Lt. Jack Matteo||Episode: "The Vampire"|
|1974||A Case of Rape||Leonard Alexander||TV movie|
|1975||Insight||Mike Madden||Episode: "Hunger Knows My Name"|
|1975||Barbary Coast||Boyle||Episode: "Irish Luck"|
|1975||The Bob Newhart Show||Edgar T. Vickers Jr.||Episode: "Fathers and Sons and Mothers"|
|1975||Sarah T. - Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic||Matt Hodges||TV movie|
|1975||One of Our Own||Dr. Moresby||TV movie|
|1976||Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident||Bissell||TV movie|
|1976||That Was the Year That Was - 1976||Sketch Actor||TV movie|
|1976||The Adams Chronicles||John Quincy Adams (age 50-81)|
|1976||McMillan & Wife||Commander Campbell||Episode: "Point of Law"|
|1976||The Rockford Files||Thomas Caine
|Episode: "The Italian Bird Fiasco"|
Episode: "So Help Me God"
|1976-1977||The Nancy Walker Show||Lt. Commander Kenneth Kitteridge||Main cast; 13 episodes|
|Quincy, M.E.||Paul Reardon
Dr. Charlie Volmer
|Episode: "A Star is Dead"|
Episode: "Dark Angel"
Episode: "Last Rights"
|1977||The Incredible Hulk||Dr. John Bonifant||Episode: "Death in the Family"|
|1977||Killer on Board||Marshall Snowden||TV movie|
|1978||Soap||Heinrich Himmel||Season 1, Episode 16|
|1978||Family||Dr. Taylor||Episode: "Counterpoint"|
|1978||Grandpa Goes to Washington||Gov. Bronx||Episode: "Pilot"|
|1978||Greatest Heroes of the Bible||Chasrubal||Episode: "Joshua and the Battle of Jericho"|
|1978||The Bastard||Samuel Adams||TV movie|
|1978||Big Bob Johnson and His Fantastic Speed Circus||Lawrence Stepwell III||TV movie|
|1978||Sergeant Matlovich vs. the U.S. Air Force||Father Veller||TV movie|
|1979||Blind Ambition||G. Gordon Liddy|
|1979||The Chinese Typewriter||Devlin||TV movie|
|1979||The Rebels||John Adams||TV movie|
|1980||The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo||Dr. Walter Taylor||Episode: "Who's the Sexiest Girl in the World"|
|1980||Galactica 1980||Norman Blore||Episodes: The Night the Cylons Landed Part 1 & 2|
|1980||City in Fear||Freeman Stirbling||TV movie|
|1980||Father Damien: The Leper Priest||Bishop Koeckemann||TV movie|
|1980-1981||Freebie and the Bean||District Attorney Walter W. Cruikshank||4 episodes|
|1981||Trapper John, M.D.||Dr. Slater||Episode: "Second Sight"|
|1981||Private Benjamin||Teddy||Episode: "Bye, Bye Benjamin"|
|1981||The Million Dollar Face||Henry Burns||TV movie|
|1982||Hart to Hart||Simon Richardson||Episode: "Hartless Hobby"|
|1982||Rehearsal for Murder||Walter Lamb||TV movie|
|1982||Rooster||Dr. DeVega||TV movie|
|1982||Drop-Out Father||Draper Wright||TV movie|
|1982-1988||St. Elsewhere||Dr. Mark Craig||Main cast; 137 episodes|
|1986||Faerie Tale Theatre||Narrator||Episode: "The Princess Who Had Never Laughed"|
|1987||The Little Match Girl||Haywood Dutton||TV movie|
|1989||Howard Beach: Making a Case for Murder||Slaney||TV movie|
|1990||On Thin Ice: The Tai Babilonia Story||John Nicks||TV movie|
|1991||The General Motors Playwright Theatre||Detective Lieutenant Fine||Episode: "Clara"|
|1991||Knight Rider 2000||KITT||TV movie; voice|
|1992||Back to the Streets of San Francisco||Judge Julius Burns||TV movie|
|1993||Nurses||Mr. Kaplan||Episode: "Family Outing"|
|1993-2000||Boy Meets World||George Feeny||Main cast; 148 episodes|
|1996||The Lottery||Reverend Hutchinson||TV movie|
|Touched by an Angel||Whit Russell
Episode: "And a Nightingale Song"
Episode: "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace"
Episode: "Milhouse Doesn't Live Here Anymore"
|2000||Star Trek: Voyager||Hospital Ship 4-2, Allocation Alpha||Voice; Episode: "Critical Care"|
|2002||Scrubs||Dr. Douglas||Episode: "My Sacrificial Clam"|
|2003||Lost at Home||Arthur||Episode: "Our Town"|
|2003||The Lyon's Den||Judge Franklin Campbell||Episode: "Blood"|
|2004||The King of Queens||Philip Waldecott||Episode: "Icky Shuffle"|
|2004||Kim Possible||Robot Pilot||Voice; Episode: "Ron Millionaire"|
|2005||The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy||Scythe 2.0||Voice; Episode: "Runaway Pants/Scythe 2.0"|
|2006||The Closer||Commissioner Andrew Schmidt||Episodes: "Serving the King Part 1 & 2"|
|2008||Boston Legal||Judge Milton Brody||Episode: "Smoke Signals"|
|2012||Paulilu Mixtape||Dr. Vanderhoof||Episode: "Ghost Tits"|
|2012||Grey's Anatomy||Dr. Craig Thomas||5 episodes|
|2014-2017||Girl Meets World||George Feeny||Recurring role (5 episodes)|
- Lego Dimensions - K.I.T.T
- Daniels, William (2017). There I Go Again: How I Came to Be Mr. Feeny, John Adams, Dr. Craig, KITT, and Many Others. Potomac Books, Inc.