Bonnie Bartlett Daniels and William Daniels married on June 30, 1951, meaning they’ll be celebrating 72 years of marriage in five months. While they’ve never separated or divorced in their seven decades together and are one of the happiest couples you’ll ever see, it hasn’t always been that way for them.
In her debut memoir titled Middle of the Rainbow, Bonnie recounts some of the past struggles of her marriage – more specifically in the early years, when the couple had an ‘open relationship.’ She recently spoke with Fox News Digital about her marriage and how they’ve stayed together through thick and thin.
“I guess it was a little bit of an open marriage at first, but that was very painful. That didn’t work well. And 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,” she said, referring to the extramarital affairs.
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Bonnie Bartlett Daniels got her start in acting in the 1950s and has made appearances in film and TV shows ever since – she’s most known for her roles on The Little House on the Prairie and St. Elsewhere. In 1986, she won her first of two Emmy Awards on the same night her husband won an Emmy of his own.
“We had a very good relationship. Bill was an angry young man, a very angry young man. And that was tough. Bill always said, ‘We had three different marriages. We’ve been together for so long, more than 70 years – a long time. I’m 93, and I met Bill when I was 18, so we had to grow up together,” she said.
The extramarital transgressions and affairs were a part of that growing up. In her new book, Bonnie reveals an affair she had in 1959, but cited her husband’s affair with a producer as the moment she changed her perspective and realized she wasn’t going to tolerate an open relationship any longer.
“[We] have always been there for each other. That’s what matters – if you’re there for the person and help [them] along in a relationship, [have] respect for them and what they’re doing and being there for them… [You have to] be together on the other side,” she explained, adding they ‘moved forward day-by-day.’
William Daniels Shares Secret to Long Marriage With Bonnie Bartlett Daniels
Last year, in celebration of his 95th birthday, William Daniels spoke with Forbes about his marriage to Bonnie Bartlett Daniels and how the two have remained together for so long. He explained how ‘content’ he and his wife were with life at the time and praised their ability to respect one another at all times.
“At first, there’s a lot of struggle and there’s a lot of uncertainty of whether you’re in the right business at all when you can’t get a job and you can be difficult — difficult to live with because of all this uncertainty,” said Daniels, who is best known for his roles in St. Elsewhere, Knight Rider, and Boy Meets World.
“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,” she said, adding that ‘so much happens and you live.’
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“What you really have to do is learn to respect the other person and their feelings and try to be as easy (laughs) to live with as you possibly can,” he added. He considers himself a ‘very lucky guy’ and praised ‘love and family’ as the two things holding him together. He’ll turn 96 on March 31st.
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