Don Knotts

Don Knotts

American comedian
Date of Birth: 21.07.1924
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Don Knotts
  2. Early Life and Family
  3. Military Service and Early Career
  4. Television and Film Career
  5. Personal Life and Legacy

Biography of Don Knotts

Don Knotts was an American comedic actor best known for his portrayal of Barney Fife in the 1960s sitcom "The Andy Griffith Show," for which he received five Emmy Awards. He also played Ralph Furley in the 1980s sitcom "Three's Company."

Don Knotts

Early Life and Family

Jesse Donald "Don" Knotts was born on July 21, 1924, in Morgantown, West Virginia, USA. He was the son of William Jesse Knotts and his wife Elsie L. Moore. His father's ancestors emigrated from England to America in the 17th century, initially settling in Queen Anne's County, Maryland. Knotts' father was a farmer but lost his land due to a nervous disorder. He suffered from schizophrenia and became an alcoholic, passing away when Don was 13 years old. Don and his two brothers were raised solely by their mother.

Don Knotts

Military Service and Early Career

There are urban legends that claim Knotts served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II, training troops at Parris Island. In reality, Knotts was enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating from Morgantown High School, where he primarily entertained servicemen.

Don Knotts

As a comedian, Knotts performed in many places, often incorporating ventriloquism into his act with a puppet named Danny "Hooch" Matador. In an interview with "TV Guide" in the 1970s, Knotts talked about his time in the army when he grew tired of playing the "comedian's dummy" made out of wood. One night, while entertaining people on board a ship, he decided to end his partnership with Danny and threw the puppet into the water. From that day on, Don performed without his "partner."

Don Knotts

Television and Film Career

Knotts' breakthrough on television came when he was offered a role in the soap opera "Search for Tomorrow." His fame came a bit later, in 1956, when he appeared on Steve Allen's variety show, where he always portrayed a highly nervous character. He admitted that with his personality, he could never have become a surgeon or explosives expert.

In 1958, the Morgantown native played the role of Corporal John Brown in Mervyn LeRoy's comedy "No Time for Sergeants" alongside Andy Griffith, with whom he maintained both professional and friendly relationships for several decades.

When "The Andy Griffith Show" premiered in 1960, Donald took on the role of Barney Fife, the sheriff's cousin. The role was so successful that Knotts received five Emmys for "Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role in a Comedy Series." Knotts was a comedic and romantic actor who, with great self-confidence and remarkable consistency, always did everything wrong. Initially, his character was intended to "contrast" with Andy, being straightforward and practical, much like in the film "No Time for Sergeants." However, after the first episode, Griffith declared, "By the second episode, I realized that Don should be funny, and I should play it straight."

After five seasons, "The Andy Griffith Show" ended, and Knotts signed a contract with Universal Studios for five films. The news of the show's revival caught him by surprise. Although the contract had not yet been signed at that time, something told Don that he would not have another chance. Knotts continued his stellar career in comedy films, including appearances in movies such as "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," "The Incredible Mr. Limpet," "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken," "The Reluctant Astronaut," "The Shakiest Gun in the West," and "How to Frame a Figg."

Personal Life and Legacy

Knotts was married three times: to Kathryn Metz from 1947 to 1964, to Loralee Czuchna from 1974 to 1983, and he remained married to Frances Yarborough until his death. He had a son and a daughter from his first marriage.

Don Knotts passed away on February 24, 2006, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, due to pulmonary and respiratory complications related to lung cancer. His longtime friend, Andy Griffith, had the opportunity to visit Don a few hours before his death. In 2000, Knotts received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In Morgantown, a statue of Knotts was erected in the Don Knotts Boulevard Memorial Park.