Bonnie Bartlett

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Bonnie Bartlett
Williamdaniels bonniebartlett (cropped).jpg
Bartlett with husband William Daniels,
1987 Emmy Awards
Born (1929-06-20) June 20, 1929 (age 86)
Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, USA
Occupation Film, television actress
Spouse(s) William Daniels (1951–present)

Bonnie Bartlett (born June 20, 1929) is an American television and film actress. Her career spans over 60 years, with her first major role being on a 1950s daytime drama, Love of Life. She is best known for her role as Ellen Craig on the medical drama series St. Elsewhere. She and her husband, actor William Daniels, who played her fictional husband Dr. Mark Craig, won the 1986 Emmy Awards on the same night, becoming the first married couple to accomplish the feat since Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in 1965.

Early life[edit]

Bartlett was born in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, the daughter of Carrie and E.E. Bartlett,[1] and raised in Moline, Illinois. Her father was an insurance salesman and a failed actor, and she was determined to live out his dream.[citation needed] In 1947 Bartlett graduated from Moline High School.[2]


Bartlett studied acting with Lee Strasberg, and first got her start in television playing the heroine "Vanessa Dale Raven" on the soap opera Love of Life from 1955 to 1959, replacing actress Peggy McCay. Ironically, she had a previous role on the program, in which briefly she played the character of Ellie Crown, a role which was played for several years by Hildy Parks. She then moved on to nighttime roles in the 1960s. Her most widely known role was as Ellen Craig on St. Elsewhere. Initially an infrequently recurring character, she took on greater prominence in the 1984–1985 season when the storyline included Ellen and Mark's marital problems. The storyline deepened in the next season when their son was killed and they had to raise their granddaughter. Bartlett won back-to-back Emmys, and was made a contract player. Further difficult material included Ellen and Mark's divorce and slow reconciliation following the loss of their granddaughter in a custody dispute with her birth mother.

While her children were growing up, Bartlett was mostly a stay-at-home mother, accepting only small guest appearances[citation needed] on such programs as Gunsmoke, The Rockford Files, The Waltons as well as a recurring role as Grace Snyder Edwards on Little House on the Prairie from 1974 to 1977. Her acting career picked up considerably in the 1980s, including the miniseries V and North and South: Book II.

Bartlett and husband William Daniels made Emmy Awards history in 1986 when they became just the second real-life married couple to win acting awards on the same night. Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne first accomplished the feat in 1965.[citation needed] Bartlett and Daniels won for their portrayals of Dr. Mark and Mrs. Ellen Craig on the TV series St. Elsewhere. They later acted together again when she played a college dean who employed her husband's character, in a season of Daniels's ABC series Boy Meets World, and their characters later married.

When St. Elsewhere ended in 1988, Bartlett's career moved to a wide variety of guest-starring appearances, including major roles on Wiseguy as a tough and corrupt matriarch of a sewage business; as Andrea Drey, Secretary General of the United Earth Oceans Organization (UEO) on seaQuest DSV; on Home Improvement as Lucille Taylor (Tim "The Tool-Man" Taylor's mother); and on ER as Ruth Katherine Greene.

Bartlett and Daniels both served on Screen Actors Guild's Board of Directors.[3]

Bartlett appeared in the Valediction, which was scheduled to begin its film festival circuit in October 2011.

Awards and honors[edit]

Bartlett was added to the Hall of Honor at her alma mater, Moline High School in Moline, Illinois.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Bartlett met her husband, actor William Daniels at Northwestern University. They were married on June 30, 1951. In 1961, she gave birth to a son, who died just 24 hours later. They later adopted two children: Michael, who became an assistant director and stage manager in Los Angeles, and Robert, who became an artist and computer graphics designer based in New York City.[citation needed]


Year Title Role Notes
1951 Love of Life Ellie Crown Television series
1955–59 Love of Life Vanessa Dale Raven Television series
1974 Waltons, TheThe Waltons Martha Rudge Television series, "The Car"
1974–77 Little House on the Prairie Grace Snyder Edwards Television series, 23 episodes
1976 Last Tycoon, TheThe Last Tycoon Brady's secretary
1979 California Dreaming Melinda Brooke
1979 Promises in the Dark Nurse Farber
1979 Salem's Lot Ann Norton Television miniseries
1982–88 St. Elsewhere Ellen Craig Television series
1983 V Lynn Bernstein Television miniseries
1988 Golden Girls, TheThe Golden Girls Barbara Thorndyke Television series, episode "Dorothy's New Friend"
1988 Twins Mary Ann Benedict
1990 Wiseguy Harriet Weiss "Brump-Brump" & "Sanctuary"
1993 Dave Female Senator
1994 SeaQuest DSV Secretary General of the UEO "The Last Lap at Luxury"
1995 Home Improvement Lucille Television series
1995 Grass Harp, TheThe Grass Harp Mrs. Buster
1996 Ghosts of Mississippi Billie DeLaughter
1997–99 Boy Meets World Dean Bolander Television series
1997 Sleeping with the Devil Stasha Dubrovich Television film
1998 ER Ruth Greene Television series, "Family Practise" & "Father and Sons"
1998 Primary Colors Martha Harris
1998 Stargate SG-1 Linea "Prisoners"
1999–2002 Once and Again Barbara Brooks Television series
2002 Firefly Patience "Serenity"
2002 General Hospital Damian Spinelli's grandmother Ep. #11191
2004 NCIS Dr. Sylvia Chalmers Season 1, Episode 12 "My Other Left Foot"
2006 Saving Shiloh Mrs. Wallace
2008 Grey's Anatomy Patient Rosie Bullard "Rise Up"
2012 Valediction Anabell post-production


  1. ^ Bonnie Bartlett Biography (1929-)
  2. ^ a b "Hall of Honor - Recipients". Moline-Coal Valley School District. Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  3. ^ "William Daniels Biography". Retrieved November 26, 2014.

External links[edit]