William Daniels
Date of Birth
Mar 31, 1927
Birth Place:
Brooklyn, New York City, NY

Biography

American actor William Daniels was teamed at age 6 with his sister Jackie in a song-and-dance act that would become "The Daniels Family" when his other sister Carol joined. At the height of their activity, the Daniels were performing in as many as three radio shows per week, a welcome break from the harshness of their Brooklyn neighborhood. Acting in the long-running Broadway play Life with Father in 1945, Daniels was advised by the play's star and co-author Howard Lindsey to attend college just in case the acting business fell apart; after Army service and graduation from Northwestern University, Daniels found that, for him, the business had fallen apart. His confidence eroded by several years of relative inactivity, Daniels nearly turned down an opportunity to play Brick in a road company production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but the play's author Tennessee Williams insisted upon casting him.

In 1960, the actor was cast with George Maharis in the Edward Albee play The Zoo Story, which won him the Obie and Clarence Derwent Awards and led to such choice Broadway assignments as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and A Thousand Clowns. Much to his own amazement, Daniels found himself cast in a superhero-spoof sitcom, Captain Nice, in 1967, which fortunately wasn't on long enough to typecast him. The actor achieved recognition of a more positive nature for his role as Dustin Hoffman's obtuse father in The Graduate (1967) (he was all of ten years older than Hoffman). Daniels' role as John Adams in the 1969 Broadway musical 1776 resulted in another strong film showing when the play was transferred to celluloid in 1972. Reportedly as reserved and taciturn as his screen characters in real life, Daniels was perhaps ideally cast as the abrasive Dr. Mark Craig on the long-running (1982-88) TV drama St. Elsewhere; appearing as Mrs. Craig was Bonnie Bartlett, to whom Daniels had been married since college. Despite his high visibility in both films and television, William Daniels is probably best known internationally for a continuing TV role in which he was never seen--the ever-correct computerized voice of K.I.T.T., the superpowered automobile on the action series Knight Rider (1982-86).

In the coming years, Daniels would continue to remain as active as ever, playing the beloved Mr. Feeny on the sitcom Boy Meets World, and making memorable appearances on shows like The Closer and Boston Legal. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Provided by Rovi