January 24, 2023 | 11:07pm
Bonnie Bartlett Daniels is defending her and husband William Daniels’ extramarital affairs at the beginning of their 72-year marriage.
The actress, 93, had previously said the couple “never felt tied to fidelity” at the beginning of their relationship, now adding that it was common practice in the 1950s.
“You have to realize that we live in a very puritanical nation still,” Bonnie told People on Tuesday.
“[When we got married], people were just loose about things. The only thing is that it harms you, does some damage to your self-esteem. It hurts really badly.”
“You have to have lived during that time as an adult to see what that was like. The culture is simply different.”
She went on to explain that the pair’s decision to relocate from New York to California “was really the saving grace” for their marriage.
“Once we got to Hollywood and we were here and living like a normal family and having weekends at home with our kids and doing things, it was totally different story,” she noted. “Nobody wanted anything more than that.”
The couple shares three sons: William Jr, who died 24 hours after being born, Michael, 59, and Robert, 57.
In her new memoir, “Middle of the Rainbow,” the Emmy-winning actress revealed she and William, who played Mr. George Feeny on “Boy Meets World,” had an open marriage after they tied the knot in 1951.
While she admitted to having “an affair that lasted a few months” with an actor in 1959, she said her husband’s romance with another woman in the ’70s left her “devastated” and changed the dynamic of their marriage.
Despite the pain, the couple was able to recommit to one another and have never looked back since.
“The marriage could have broken apart at any time those first 10 years, if one of us had, say, fallen in love with somebody, but we never did,” she further told People.
“That was never part of it. Both of us really wanted to be together. The love has never stopped.”
In fact, Bartlett Daniels insisted that today the pair are “very happy” and enjoy the small moments they share together in their Hollywood home.
“We sit in this house and we do things. He reads his ‘New York Times,’ and he does cameos mostly. And we do conventions and things like that. We just like to be with each other. And we would do anything for each other.”