William David Daniels (born March 31, 1927) is an American actor and former president of the Screen Actors Guild (1999 to 2001). He is known for his performance as Dustin Hoffman's father in The Graduate (1967), 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.
Daniels was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Irene and David Daniels, 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. They have two adopted children.
His motion picture debut was as a school principal in the 1963 anti-war drama Ladybug Ladybug. In 1967 he starred in The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman, and Anne Bancroft. In 1969, Daniels starred as John Adams in the musical 1776, as well as appearing in the movie 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 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). The same year he appeared as reporter Paul Reardon in an episode of Quincy, M.E.. He provided the voice of KITT in Knight Rider from 1982 to 1986. Daniels requested that he not receive on screen credit for the role. He reprised the role in 1991 for the television movie Knight Rider 2000, again in the movie The Benchwarmers, and twice in The Simpsons as well as at the Comedy Central Roast of his co-star David Hasselhoff. 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. Daniels then portrayed a teacher and at one point a principal known as George Feeny at John Adams High School in Boy Meets World from 1993 to 2000.
Daniels had a successful career as a stage actor; besides 1776, his Broadway credits include On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and A Little Night Music. He earned an Obie Award for The Zoo Story (1960). He has also appeared in several other films.
He put in a memorable appearance in one episode of Soap as Heinrich Himmel, a German private investigator hired to investigate the murder of Peter Campbell. Benson decided to pick him up and sit him on their dessert.
He also appeared in the 1987 film Blind Date as Judge Harold Bedford.
In 2010, he once again reprised the role of KITT for the Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff.
In 1986, both Daniels and his wife Bonnie Bartlett, who also 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. Lunt and Fontanne were the first to win Emmy Awards for a film, and Bartlett and Daniels were the first couple to win for a television series.
Northwestern University's annual William Daniels Awards honors the top performers, directors, choreographers, etc. in campus theatre productions throughout the year.
- Played Fred Pearson, an efficiency expert, in an episode of McCloud called "The Day New York Turned Blue." His policies are unpopular and so most of the department strikes. Bernadette Peters plays a prostitute who paints her Johns blue. Her clothing becomes sopping wet when se's arrested so she's put in a police woman's uniform. Daniel's character mistakes her for a real police woman, and wants to talk to her. "I need you," he says, because as a woman, she's a minority. Peters' character thinks he's another John, attempts to seduce him, knocks him out...and then paints him blue.
- The father of the character Benjamin Braddock, played by Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate in 1967, despite being only ten years older than Hoffman.
- John Adams in both the Broadway and film version of 1776.
- Albert Amundsen, an officious social worker who tries to strip the protagonist of the custody of his nephew in A Thousand Clowns (1965).
- Captain Nice, a comedy TV series that ran from January-May 1967 on NBC. Riding the tide of the camp superhero craze of the 1960s, the show's premise involved police chemist Carter Nash, a mild-mannered mama's boy who discovered a secret formula that, when taken, transformed him into Captain Nice.
- A physician named John Bonifant in Death In the Family, the second made-for-TV movie of the 1970s Incredible Hulk TV series.
- The voice of KITT in Knight Rider.
- Played Theatre producer Walter Lamb in the 1982 whodunnit Rehearsal For Murder, opposite Robert Preston and Lynne Redgrave.
- Played Austin Tucker in the 1974 film The Parallax View, across from Warren Beatty.
- Played Police Lt. Jack Matteo in Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode 'The Vampire', opposite Darren McGavin's Karl Kolchak
- Played New York Socialist leader Julius Gerber in Warren Beatty's 1981 historical drama, Reds.
- An episode of The Rockford Files as high-handed District Attorney Gary Bevins, who conducts a grand-jury hearing at which Jim Rockford is subpoenaed to testify.
- Norman, a radio executive attending a Halloween party with coworkers; he appears dressed as a clown for the party, and unwittingly picks up Cylon hitchhikers in the Galactica 1980, episode "The Night the Cylons Landed".
- Reverend Hutchinson in the 1996 film adaptation of Shirley Jackson' "The Lottery"
- The voice of Scythe 2.0. in The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, episode "Scythe 2.0.".
- The voice of a robot in an episode of Kim Possible.
- Judge Harold Bedford in the 1987 movie Blind Date, with Bruce Willis and Kim Basinger.
- Guest starred in an episode of Scrubs. His appearance involved three other cast members from St. Elsewhere; they played hospitalized doctors.
- Howard Manchester in 1967's Two for the Road.
- George Summers in the 1977 Carl Reiner film Oh, God!.
- Arthur Spooner's nemesis, Philip Waldecott in The King Of Queens.
- The un-named judge in the 2007 movie Code Name: The Cleaner.
- He played the skating commissioner who bans the two main characters from skating in Blades of Glory.
- A part in The Closer.
- A part in the TV series Quincy, M.E.
- The father of Richard Lestrange in The Blue Lagoon.
- An average American suburban father in The President's Analyst.
- A card-player coming over to the house of Uncle Bob in Magic Kid 2.
- Mr. George Feeny, teacher and neighbor on Boy Meets World.
- Judge Milton Brody, during the fifth season of Boston Legal.
- The son of a patient of Dr. Robert Hartley in the TV series The Bob Newhart Show.
- The senior social worker in the Jason Robards film A Thousand Clowns.
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