When the Strand Book Store announced the March 2nd event featuring Emmy-winning actor William Daniels, the East Coast autograph collectors went gaga. Daniels, star of Boy Meets World, 1776, St. Elsewhere, and Knight Rider, would be signing copies of his new book, There I Go Again, as well as posing for photos and signing extra items. Daniels is an extremely tough meet on the east coast, so this was a huge deal for many of his fans. 200 of them to be exact.
While in line, I spotted Danny McNulty a little further up. He played Harley Keiner, the school bully on Boy Meets World and school janitor on Girl Meets World. He had tweeted earlier in the week he would be attending, so I went ahead a printed up an 8×10 for signing just in case I was able to spot him in the crowd. He graciously signed and posed for a photo, as well as taking a selfie of us on his own phone.
Mr. Daniels seemed to be genuinely excited to be doing a meet & greet. His social media posts, whether actually written by him or dictated by him, indicated so. However, either he, his management, the book store, or a combination of the three greatly underestimated his popularity. Originally, the store limited the signing to 100 books sold. However, once that sold out, they released another 100 tickets. This concerned me, but I thought maybe a number of these 200 people wouldn’t show, or that several people would come touting multiple copies. All 200 showed and it proved to be too much for the 89-year old Daniels.
I’m not even sure the line had begun to move when the rules changed dramatically. First, the staff came out to announce he had seized doing posed photos, just candids while he was signing. Then prior to entering, they quietly added he would not be signing extras either.
When I got up to Daniels, the rules didn’t seem to be strictly enforced. His handler, actor Loren Lester, was soothing his qualms with each and every signature he begrudgingly signed. If you were lucky, he glanced up for the camera. He didn’t for my photos, but I’m happy with the one I got. Very similar to my Robert Wagner photo op from November.
Once finished with Daniels, I noticed Bonnie Bartlett, who was off to the side, just wrapping up a conversation with McNulty. Bartlett has had her own storied career appearing alongside Daniels in both St. Elsewhere as Ellen Craig, and Boy Meets World as Dean Lila Bolander-Feeny. As McNulty stepped away, I swiftly stepped in with an 8×10 head shot and Sharpie in hand. I don’t think she said anything as she too begrudgingly signed, and she didn’t say anything when posing either, she just quickly flashed a smile for the camera. She is 87, and the evening was clearly taking a lot out of her as well. For attendees who couldn’t get Daniels, they were aiming to get the next best thing – his Emmy-winning wife.
Daniels later said on social media, “Was truly overwhelmed with the amount of people who came to see me last night. Thank you for reading my stories. Thank you for coming.” The general consensus online seems to be blaming the Strand for what ended up being a poorly run signing. Daniels and Bartlett were clearly run down, unprepared, and misinformed about the number of tickets sold. Poor move on the Strand’s part to be taking advantage of an 89 and 87 year old. If they were my grandparents, I would have been appalled with their mistreatment. It was great meeting Daniels, Bartlett, and McNulty, but I cannot say I will be returning to or trusting the Strand in the future.