WATCH: Here's why legendary actor William Daniels almost turned down the role of Mr. Feeny on "Boy Meets World"

Two of the actor's most legendary roles — Mr. Feeny and KITT from "Knight Rider" — almost never came to fruition


Jeremy Binckes
March 8, 2017 6:00PM (UTC)

It's hard to imagine a world in which two-time Emmy Award winner William Daniels doesn't play two of his biggest TV roles: KITT in the 1980s TV series "Knight Rider," and Mr. George Feeny in "Boy Meets World" a decade later. But, as the actor — joined by his wife, fellow Emmy winner Bonnie Bartlett — told Salon Talks, that was a real possibility at the time.

"Teachers are very important in our society, and they're very underpaid," Daniels said of his role as a teacher (and later principal) on "Boy Meets World." "So when I read the script at a reading with all the other actors, I couldn't tell."

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But Michael Jacobs, the producer of "Boy Meets World," rewrote the script in a day, delivering a script and a version of Mr. Feeny that Daniels found acceptable."

Daniels was also less-than-enthusiastic about taking the role of KITT, the talking car and crime-fighting companion of David Hasslehoff's main character, Michael Knight — especially when he saw the initial script. After being dismayed by the idea of a talking car, Daniels was even more surprised by how he was asked to voice the role.

"I read it, and in about three weeks, I get a call," Daniels said. "'The show sold. They want you to do the voice of KITT.'"

But because Daniels was working on "St. Elsewhere" at the time, NBC made special arrangements to allow him to do the voiceover work without ever having to be in studio. That also meant he never met star David Hasselhoff until the show's Christmas party, leading to an interesting first meeting.

"He said, 'How does this work?,'" Daniels recalled. "Because this girl reads your lines, and I'm out in the damn road in the dust and sand and where are you?' I said, 'I'm in a recording studio.'"

 

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Jeremy Binckes

Jeremy Binckes is the senior news editor at Salon.com.

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