For kids growing up in the 1990s, there were few experiences greater than watching the ABC Network’s Friday night “TGIF” lineup. Running from 8-10 pm eastern time, that block of programming featured four sitcoms that were family-friendly while still being hilarious for kids and teens. One of the most beloved shows from that era was Boy Meets World. One of the show’s major characters, Mr. Feeny, actually has an interesting backstory behind his romantic subplot on the show. His real-life love story is even more interesting. Let’s take a closer look at why that is.
The premise of Boy Meets World
Boy Meets World tells the story of a young boy named Cory Matthews (played by Ben Savage) and the trials and tribulations he experiences as a kid growing up in suburban Pennsylvania. He’s joined by his mom, dad, sister, and older brother Eric. He also has a best friend, Shawn, who accompanies him most of the time as well. He also has a friend who becomes a love interest, Topanga. They eventually marry on the show.
The show ran for seven years, from 1993-2000 according to IMDb. Viewers were able to watch the entire cast grow up, as the main cast were all graduated by the time the series ended. Most of the cast reunited for a series revival when the Disney Channel show Girl Meets World premiered years later. This program followed Cory and Topanga’s marriage and young daughter, mirroring the original show.
Who was Mr. Feeny?
Mr. Feeny was the Matthews’ family’s next-door neighbor. He was also Cory’s teacher as well. Feeny often took something of an antagonist role to Cory. As with any teacher-student relationship, Cory often saw Feeny as something of a disciplinary figure. Feeny often dispensed advice to Cory from across the fence in his backyard.
The juxtaposition between the two characters drove the show’s humor. Cory was a good-natured, well-meaning kid who liked to get into trouble every now and then. Feeny was something of a tough teacher with a soft side. Though he more often than not scolded Cory, there was clearly a lot of love and respect between the two characters.
Throughout the show, Feeny became less of a teacher for Cory and more of a grandfatherly mentor. Feeny was portrayed by veteran actor William Daniels, who had famously also appeared in the 1980s show St. Elsewhere.
The real-life love story of Mr. Feeney on ‘Boy Meets World’
On the show, Feeny’s wife had passed away. When Cory, Topanga, and Shawn go to college, Feeny follows them and becomes a professor there. He grows an attraction to the school’s dean, portrayed by actor Bonnie Bartlett, and the two eventually fall in love. It’s a touching storyline and it gives one of the show’s best characters a nice love story. But the real-life story behind it was even better.
According to Today, Bartlett and Daniels have actually been married in real life since 1951. The two have been together and in love much longer than their on-screen counterparts. They also appeared together on St. Elsewhere. When asked what her favorite episode she starred in was, Bartlett talked about an episode where Fred Savage (the brother of the series star) makes a pass at Topanga. She got a chance to stick up for her real-life hubby:
“I gave him hell because he was playing — Fred is a good villain — he was playing an obnoxious teacher. I said, ‘You don’t have one ounce of teacher in you like this man (Feeny) does.’ Anyway, it was a good episode for me.”
It’s wild to think that Bartlett and Daniels have spent the better part of a century together, but that’s probably why their onscreen chemistry on the show was so strong.
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