Bartlett's father was a failed actor, and Bartlett was determined to live out his dream. She 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 then moved on to nighttime roles in the 1960s.
She and her husband since 1951, actor William Daniels, made Emmy history in 1986 when they became the first real-life couple to win acting awards on the same night. They 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 in a season of Daniels' ABC series, Boy Meets World.
Daniels and Bartlett met at Northwestern University. In 1961 she gave birth to a son who died 24 hours later. They later adopted two children - Michael (an assistant director and stage manager in Los Angeles, California) and Robert (an artist and computer graphics designer based in New York City, New York).
Bartlett was a stay-at-home mother for much of the next few decades, accepting small guest appearances on such programs as Gunsmoke and playing a recurring role on Little House on the Prairie from 1974 to 1977. Her acting career picked up considerably in the 1980's, including the miniseries V (TV series) and North and South: Part II. Her most widely known role was Ellen Craig. Initially a recurring character who appeared in a few episodes here and there, Ellen took on greater prominence in the 1984-1985 season when Ellen and Mark began to have marital problems, and even more the next season when their son was killed and they had to raise their granddaughter. Bartlett won back-to-back Emmies and was made a contract player. Further difficult material included Ellen and Mark's divorce and slow reconcialition following the loss of their granddaughter in a custody dispute with her birth mother.
When St. Elsewhere ended in 1988, Bartlett continued to make a wide variety of guest-starring appearances, including major roles on Wiseguy as a tough and corrupt matriarch of a sewage business, and ER (TV series) as Dr. Mark Green's mother. Her feature film work included Twins (1988), Dave (1993), Ghosts of Mississippi (1996) and Primary Colors. (1998)
In the fall of 2000, she was an honoree at Moline High School in their Hall of Honor. Her plaque sits in a viewing window in the auditorium lobby at Moline High in Moline, Illinois.
Bonnie Bartlett Facts
|Birthday||June 20, 1929 (89)|
|Birthplace||Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, USA|