Boy meets girl! William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett are living proof that Hollywood marriages can last, with a love story spanning more than seven decades.
The twosome met while studying acting at Northwestern University and tied the knot in 1951. Despite their commitment to each other, the duo has been candid about facing struggles during their relationship.
“So much happens and you live … you hurt each other,” Bartlett told Forbes in March 2022. “We’ve hurt each other but you recover and you grow and you change and you adapt. You have to be able to adapt to the other person. You have to think of them first. It doesn’t happen overnight. It took us years to get to a real companionship marriage.”
The Little House on the Prairie alum opened up about the infidelity that characterized the early years of their union in her 2023 memoir, Middle of the Rainbow.
“I guess it was a little bit of an open marriage at first, but that was very painful. That didn’t work well,” she recalled. “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.”
Bartlett noted that keeping her marriage with Daniels open was “very painful for the both” of them, adding, “there was a lot of pain connected with any transgression.”
In addition to extramarital affairs, the couple also endured a tragic loss. In 1961, the Twins actress gave birth to their son William Jr., who died 24 hours later. However, Daniels and Bartlett were determined to be parents, and they adopted sons Michael and Robert in 1964 and 1966, respectively.
During a December 2020 interview with Forbes, Bartlett said that her husband’s parenting skills — as well as his sense of humor — were two of the things she admired most about him.
“He makes me laugh. His sense of humor and his ability every day to find something funny is really good for me because I’m very intense. That and being a great father. He’s a great father,” she told the outlet.
The lovebirds have been each other’s biggest cheerleaders as they’ve both pursued acting over the years.
“We both have the same goals. We both liked acting. We both liked when the other one worked,” Bartlett told Forbes in March 2022. Daniels chimed in, “There was never any jealousy between the two of us. We were happy when the other one was working.”
Scroll through for a look at Daniels and Bartlett’s relationship over the years: