Jesse Donald “Don” Knotts was born on July 21st 1924, and was an American comedic actor best known as a regular on “The Steve Allen Show,” for the 1968 film The Shakiest Gun in the West as Jesse W. Haywood and for his portrayal of Barney Fife on the 1960s television sitcom The Andy Griffith Show, a role in which he earned five Emmy Awards.
Knotts was born in Morgantown, West Virginia Knotts’ paternal ancestors had emigrated from England to America in the 17th century, originally settling in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland.
Knotts’ father was a farmer. William Knotts had a nervous breakdown due to the stress of the fourth child. This was because Don was born so late in his mother’s life; Don’s mother was 40 at the time of his birth.
Afflicted with schizophrenia and alcoholism, he sometimes terrorized his young son with a knife, causing the boy to turn inward at an early age. Knotts’ father died of pneumonia when Don, the youngest son, was 13 years old. Don and his three brothers were then raised by their mother, who ran a boarding house in Morgantown.
Don Knotts is a sixth cousin of Ron Howard, a co-star on The Andy Griffith Show.
An urban legend claims that Knotts served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II, serving as a drill instructor at Parris Island. In reality, Knotts enlisted in the United States Army after graduating from Morgantown High School and spent most of his service entertaining troops.
Knotts earned a bachelor’s degree in 1948 from West Virginia University after returning from service in World War II.
He began his career performing in many venues, including a ventriloquist act with a dummy named Danny “Hooch” Matador.
In a TV Guide interview in the 1970s, he said that he had grown tired of playing straight man for a hunk of wood when he was in the Army. According to Knotts, he tossed the dummy overboard off a ship in the South Pacific. He swore that he could hear the dummy calling for help as the ship sailed on, leaving him bobbing helplessly in the waves.
Knotts got his first major break on television in the soap opera Search for Tomorrow where he appeared from 1953 to 1955.
In 1960, Andy Griffith was offered the opportunity to headline his own sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show (1960–1968). Knotts took the role of Barney Fife, the deputy and originally cousin of Sheriff Andy Taylor (portrayed by Griffith).
Knotts’ portrayal of the deputy on the popular show earned him five Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Comedy, three awards for the first five seasons that he played the character.
One of my favorite movies from Don Knotts is the 1964 movie called, The Incredible Mr. Limpet.
Today’s YouTube video clip brought to you by user name johnnybgde1 is Don Knotts talking about the movie called, “The Incredible Mr. Limpet.”
Another movie I loved him in was the movie called, “Pleasantville,” his character gave Toby McGuire’s character a televisions remote control to take him back in time.
Don Knotts was chicken plucker and took an early job plucking chickens for a market when he was told he didn’t have a future in acting.
He died on the same day and at the same age as actor Dennis Weaver, which was February 24th 2006, at the age of 81.
As we remember Don Knotts today we remember a special man with an extraordinary talent that wasn’t that good looking but took each role and made it his own, Happy Birthday Mr. Knotts!
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell