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
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 movie
1988 Twins Mary Ann Benedict
1993 Dave Female Senator
1995 Grass Harp, TheThe Grass Harp Mrs. Buster
1996 Ghosts of Mississippi Billie DeLaughter
1997 Sleeping with the Devil Stasha Dubrovich Television movie
1998 Primary Colors Martha Harris
2006 Saving Shiloh Mrs. Wallace
2012 Valediction Anabell Short film
2012 Of Two Minds Kathleen Television movie


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 Snyder Edwards 26 episodes
1974 Waltons, TheThe Waltons Martha Rudge Episode: "The Car"
1974 Gunsmoke Agnes Benton Episode: "In Performance of Duty"
1975 Kojak Joan Miller Episode: "The Good Luck Bomber"
1976 The Rockford Files Casey Patterson Episode: "The Oracle Wore a Cashmere Suit"
1977 Washington: Behind Closed Doors Joan Bailey 2 episodes
1979 Hart to Hart Myra Bensinger Episode: "Murder Between Friends"
1981 ABC Afterschool Specials Miriam Scott Episode: "She Drinks a Little"
1981 Knots Landing Dr. Ruth West Episode: "Critical Condition"
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 Lou Grant Claire Episode: "Unthinkable"
1983 V Lynn Bernstein 2 episodes
1985 Hotel Olga Petrovsky Episode: "Passports"
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"
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"
1995–1998 Home Improvement Lucille 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"
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"
2013 Parks and Recreation Paula Horke Episode: "Garbage Day"


  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]