Mr. Feeny Took His Open Marriage Very Seriously
Here’s a piece of Boy Meets World trivia that no one needed to know – William Daniels, the actor behind Mr. Feeney, spent the ‘50s and ‘60s banging his way through New York’s entertainment industry with the full consent of his wife, St. Elsewhere star Bonnie Bartlett Daniels.
Ms. Bartlett Daniels is on a press tour to promote her recent memoir, Middle of the Rainbow, in which she describes the shadier (and sexier) side of the entertainment industry during her and her husband’s heydays. The couple have been married since 1951, but Bartlett Daniels told Fox News Digital that the pair spent the first twenty years of the union in a mutually agreed-upon “open relationship,” and that their long-standing relationship is "hardly a fairy tale."
That’s probably because the tale of Cinderella traditionally ends with the heroine and her prince living “happily ever after” instead of an epilogue where the prince starts banging one of the stepsisters while Cinderella had a fling with the transmuted mouseman carriage driver.
"I guess it was a little bit of an open marriage at first, but that was very painful," Bartlett Daniels said of the early years of her marriage. “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 explained, giving us the mental image of a young Mr. Feeny frolicking through Greenwich Village with a pocket full of jimmies and a ring on his finger.
Though the husband and wife both indulged in their sexual freedom, Bartlett Daniels described the emotional toll the arrangement took on her, saying, “I don’t know if there was a lack of commitment a little bit, and that’s not good. So there was a lot of pain connected with any transgression, with any extramarital thing."
Bartlett Daniels said of marriage, “We had a very good relationship, Bill was an angry young man, a very angry young man. And that was tough.” The two-time Emmy-winning actress sought out a side piece who could counterbalance her choleric partner, saying that she found a "kinder and gentler man" in a young actor with whom she had an extended affair lasting many months. Bartlett Daniels described her manstress as "slightly boring, (however,) the sex was good."
Meanwhile, Mr. Feeny was indulging in his own extramarital activities as he enjoyed the renown and attention of being one of New York’s premiere Broadway actors as well as a budding star on screens big and small. However, the “special agreement” between Daniels and his wife came to an end in the early ‘70s when Daniels broke the age-old affair rule of “don’t shit where you eat.”
Bartlett Daniels described the final act of the couple’s period of ethical non-monogamy in which Daniels engaged in an affair with a female producer and colleague. The relationship "devastated” his wife to the point where she "could no longer tolerate any kind of open marriage,” thus ending the sexually liberated phase of Mr. Feeny’s life.
Said Bartlett Daniels, “Bill and I have moved forward day-by-day and eventually, the days added up" – as did their body counts until she called off the agreement. In today’s age when ethical non-monogamy is a trendy relationship dynamic, polyamorous partners sometimes find themselves in a toxic competition to see who can out-bang the other participant. Though Bartlett Daniels never explicitly mentioned this kind of subconscious contest, it seems from an outside perspective that Mr. Feeny may have won the race to have the raciest affair.
Cory and Topanga, take note – keep your work lives and love lives separate.