Bonnie Bartlett

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Bonnie Bartlett
Williamdaniels bonniebartlett (cropped).jpg
Bartlett with husband William Daniels at the 39th Primetime Emmy Awards in 1987
Born (1929-06-20) June 20, 1929 (age 93)
EducationMoline High School
Alma materNorthwestern University
Years active1951–present
(m. 1951)

Bonnie Bartlett (born June 20, 1929)[1] is an American actress. Her career spans seven decades, with her first major role being on a 1950s daytime drama, Love of Life. Bartlett is known for her role as Grace Snider Edwards on the Michael Landon television series Little House on the Prairie and as Ellen Craig on the medical drama series St. Elsewhere. Her husband, actor William Daniels, who played her fictional husband Dr. Mark Craig, and she each won Emmy Awards on the same night in 1986, 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 Archer and Elwin Earl Bartlett,[2] and was raised in Moline, Illinois. Her father had been an actor in stock productions across the country, but he gave up acting because her mother wanted to settle in Wisconsin.[3][4]

In 1947, she graduated from Moline High School.[5]


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. She also had a previous role on the program, in which she briefly played the character of Ellie Crown, a role which was played for several years by Hildy Parks. She then moved on to night-time roles in the 1960s.

Her two most widely known roles were as Grace Snider Edwards on Little House on the Prairie from 1974-1977 and as Ellen Craig on St. Elsewhere. Each role began as infrequently recurring characters. As Grace Snider Edwards, her character's prominence in the series gradually increased from 1975-1977 following the courtship by and marriage to Isaiah Edwards, played by Victor French. In St. Elsewhere, 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.

For many years, Bartlett accepted only small guest appearances on such programs as The Golden Girls, Gunsmoke, The Rockford Files, and The Waltons. Her acting career picked up considerably in the 1980s, including the TV miniseries V and North and South: Book II, as well as the pivotal role as the mother of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito's characters in the 1988 film, Twins.

Bartlett and husband William Daniels made Emmy Awards history in 1986 when they became 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.[6] 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.[citation needed]

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 on seaQuest DSV; on Home Improvement as Lucille Taylor (Tim "the Tool Man" Taylor's mother); and on ER as Ruth Katherine Greene. Bartlett's last feature-film role to date was in Valediction.

Screen Actors Guild[edit]

Bartlett and Daniels both served on the Screen Actors Guild's board of directors.[7]

Awards and honors[edit]

Bartlett was added to the Hall of Honor at her alma mater, Moline High School in Moline, Illinois.[5]

Bartlett won two Emmy awards for her role as Ellen Craig on the television drama, St. Elsewhere. She was the best supporting actress winner in both 1986 and 1987 and was nominated as well in 1988. For the same role, Bartlett also won a Q Award in 1987 as the Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Bartlett met William Daniels, at Northwestern University. They were married on June 30, 1951.[8]

In 1961, she gave birth to a son, who died 24 hours later. They adopted two sons: 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.[9][10]



Year Title Role Notes
1976 The Last Tycoon Brady's Secretary
1979 California Dreaming Melinda Brooke
1979 Promises in the Dark Nurse Farber
1982 Frances Studio Stylist
1984 Love Letters Maggie Winter
1988 Twins Mary Ann Benedict
1993 Dave Female Senator
1995 The Grass Harp Mrs. Buster
1996 Ghosts of Mississippi Billie DeLaughter
1998 Primary Colors Martha Harris
2006 Saving Shiloh Mrs. Wallace
2012 Valediction Anabell Short film
2016 Nina Recital Stage Woman


Year Title Role Notes
1951 Love of Life Ellie Crown Unknown episodes
1955–1959 Love of Life Vanessa Dale Raven Unknown episodes
1965 The Patty Duke Show Miss Castle Episode: "My Cousin the Heroine"
1969 The Jackie Gleason Show Donna Douglas Episode: "The Honeymooners: The Honeymoon Is Over"
1973 Emergency! Eunice Evans Episode: "Computer Error"
1974 Gunsmoke Maylee Baines Episode: "The Foundling"
1974–1979 Little House on the Prairie Grace Snider Edwards 26 episodes
1974 The Waltons Martha Rudge Episode: "The Car"
1974 Gunsmoke Agnes Benton Episode: "In Performance of Duty"
1975 Kojak Joan Milner Episode: "The Good Luck Bomber"
1975 The Legend of Lizzie Borden Sylvia Knowlton TV movie
1976 The Rockford Files Casey Patterson Episode: "The Oracle Wore a Cashmere Suit"
1977 Washington: Behind Closed Doors Joan Bailey 2 episodes
1977 Killer on Board Debra Snowden Television movie
1979 Hart to Hart Myra Bensinger Episode: "Murder Between Friends"
1979 Salem's Lot Ann Norton Television movie
1980 Rape and Marriage: The Rideout Case Norma Joyce Television movie
1980 Barney Miller Ellen Milford Episode: "The Delegate"
1981 ABC Afterschool Specials Miriam Scott Episode: "She Drinks a Little"
1981 Knots Landing Dr. Ruth West Episode: "Critical Condition"
1981 A Long Way Home JoAnn Booth TV movie
1982–1988 St. Elsewhere Ellen Craig 70 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1986–87)
Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
1982 Barney Miller Emily Loftis Episode: "Inquiry"
1982 Lou Grant Claire Episode: "Unthinkable"
1983 V Lynn Bernstein 2 episodes
1985 Hotel Olga Petrovsky Episode: "Passports"
1986 The Deliberate Stranger Louise Bundy TV Movie
1987 Right to Die Lillian TV Movie
1988 The Golden Girls Barbara Thorndyke Episode: "Dorothy's New Friend"
1989 Matlock Lorraine Maslin Episode: "The Blues Singer"
1989 Murder, She Wrote Marilyn North Episode: "Seal of the Confessional"
1989–1990 Midnight Caller Hillary Townsend-King 4 episodes
1990 The Great Los Angeles Earthquake Anita Parker
1990 Wiseguy Harriet Weiss 2 episodes
1992 L.A. Law Gloria Lee Episode: "Diet, Diet My Darling"
1992 Room for Two Francine Luboff Episode: "Pilot"
1992 I'll Fly Away Beth Lekatzis Episode: "Fragile Truths"
1994 SeaQuest DSV Secretary General of the UEO Episode: "The Last Lap at Luxury"
1995 The Courtyard Cathleen Fitzgerald Television film
1995–1998 Home Improvement Lucille Taylor 5 episodes
1996 The Faculty Katherine Episode: "Bus Stop"
1997–1999 Boy Meets World Dean Bolander 5 episodes
1997–1998 ER Ruth Greene 2 episodes
1997–1999 The Practice Joanne Oz 2 episodes
1997 Touched by an Angel Emily Episode: "Venice"
1997 Sleeping with the Devil Stasha Dubrovich Television movie
1998 Stargate SG-1 Linea Episode: "Prisoners"
1999–2002 Once and Again Barbara Brooks 7 episodes
2000 Touched by an Angel Lucy Scribner Episode: "The Grudge"
2002 Firefly Patience Episode: "Serenity"
2002 Strong Medicine Edna Carlyle Episode: "Discharged"
2003 Touched by an Angel Loretta Episode: "And a Nightingale Sang"
2004 NCIS Dr. Sylvia Chalmers Episode: "My Other Left Foot"
2005 Huff Margaret Episode: "All the King's Horses"
2006 Boston Legal Marguerite Hauser Episode: "Shock and Oww!"
2006 General Hospital Miriam Spinelli 2 episodes
2008 Grey's Anatomy Patient Rosie Bullard Episode: "Rise Up"
2012 Of Two Minds Kathleen Television movie
2013 Parks and Recreation Paula Horke Episode: "Women In Garbage"
2017 Better Call Saul Helen 2 Episodes


  • Bartlett Daniels, Bonnie (January 8, 2023). Middle of the Rainbow: How a wife, mother and daughter managed to find herself and win two Emmys. BearManor Media. ISBN 979-8-887-71044-0.


  1. ^ Cox, Jim (129). The Daytime Serials of Television, 1946-1960. McFarland. ISBN 9780786424290.
  2. ^ "Family Search". FamilySearch.
  3. ^ "Bonnie Bartlett On 60 Years In Show Business From Little House To St. Elsewhere". February 9, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2022. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "On Call, Vol. 1, No. 2 – Personnel Profile: Bill and Bonnie Daniels... "The Story of How Captain Nice Met Alice Actress" – The St. Elsewhere Experience". July 21, 2013. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Hall of Honor – Recipients" Archived October 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Moline-Coal Valley School District; retrieved November 26, 2014.
  6. ^ King, Susan (May 9, 2015). "In 'Girl Meets World,' William Daniels reprises Mr. Feeny". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  7. ^ "William Daniels Biography" Archived November 20, 2014, at the Wayback Machine,; retrieved November 26, 2014.
  8. ^ "Actor Profile: Bonnie Bartlett". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  9. ^ "Ageless Amazing Women Interview – Bonnie Bartlett". Beverlye Hyman Fead, Aging in High Heels. June 11, 2013. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  10. ^ Weiskind, Ron (March 6, 1987). "Bonnie Bartlett Goes 'Downscale'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Vol. 60, no. 187. p. Weekend 19. Retrieved August 14, 2021.

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