Don Knotts: A Comic Legend

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Don Knotts was a legend. He became famous for his role on the Andy Griffith Show and made countless people laugh over the course of his life and his career.

Here, we’d like to remember him by talking about his life and career and the Andy Griffith Show. Read more about his life in our list.

1. Chicken Plucking to Hollywood

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Many know the legendary Don Knotts for his famous role on the Andy Griffith show. What a lot of people may not know is that before he was a famous actor, he had the job title of chicken plucker.

Yes, that means it was his job to pluck individual feathers from the dead birds.

2. The Ventriloquist

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Many successful comedians at the time tried their hand at ventriloquism. Knotts had a dummy named Danny.

Danny’s final fate was to be thrown overboard in the South Pacific. Knotts liked to tell jokes about Danny later in his career. Read more about Don Knotts Story. It is very interesting.

3. Military Man

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It was rumored that Knotts may have once been a no-excuses drill sergeant barking orders for the United States Marine Corp.

This was only a rumor, however. Knotts served the U.S. Army for three years as an entertainer and received the equivalent rank of an army Corporal. Read more about the Man of Honor.

4. Man of Honor

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He was also given a number of honors including the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, a marksmanship badge, and a Service lapel button.

Even though he didn’t actually fight the enemies, keeping morale high was an invaluable service. Read more about the role that started it all for Don Knott.

5. The Role that Started it All

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After his time spent in the military, he came back to the United States landing his first real acting job. It was the television soap opera, ‘Search for Tomorrow’.

This was the only serious character Knotts ever played. After the soap, he discovered his passion for comedy with Allen’s theater company.

6. No Contract

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The Andy Griffith Show

Following the Steve Allen Show, Knotts was gaining popularity with the public and that’s when he got the role of Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith Show.

Would you believe there was no contract in place for Knotts when the show started filming, and it could’ve easily never happened? Read more about that.

7.Griffith Gave His Lines to Don

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The Andy Griffith Show

Originally, Don was meant to have fewer lines. Andy Griffith amazed how Don was so funny, decided Don deserved the spotlight.

Andy was set to be the star of the series until he and everyone discovered that the show was actually a lot funnier when their roles were reversed. Read more.

8. A Couple of Jokesters

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The Andy Griffith Show

In true best friend fashion, Don and Andy were always pranking each other and giving the other one a hard time.

Griffith liked to call Knotts by the name Jess to tease him for his real name, Jesse. The two of them sometimes acted like kids and everyone thought they were really funny.

9. A Tough Farewell

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The Andy Griffith Show

The Andy Griffith Show was originally contracted for 5 seasons. Thinking the show would end, Don had already made plans to move on from the show.

He hated leaving, but he had a five-year contract with Universal Pictures, and so he had no other option, it was a tough farewell.

10. Don Wanted to Stay

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The Andy Griffith Show

The show explained that Don’s character had received a job working for the Raleigh, North Carolina police force.

Knotts also tried to make Griffith an offer that he would stay if he could have a large stake in the production. Griffith declined and that’s why he couldn’t stay. Everyone was sad about that.

11. His First Role in Film was Inspired by the Show

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Haunted House

Supposedly Griffith thought Knotts wanted a 50/50 share, but Knotts would’ve been happy with just a small one.

He went on to playing Luther in the film “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” which was actually inspired by the Andy Griffith Show episode “Haunted House.” Read more about Don Knotts Life story.

12. Henry Limpet

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The Incredible Mr. Limpet

Knotts’s first starring role in a movie was the very funny Henry Limpet from “The Incredible Mr. Limpet.”

In the movie, his character turns into a fish that aids the U.S. Navy in finding German submarines prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. mentioning how he thought the film was “very, very good.”

13. Style Icon

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We know many stars who where style Icons, but he was a special one. Offset and out of his officer uniform, Don could be found wearing his trademark coat and straw hat.

It was an outfit befitting of such a comedian. He was also known to sport his signature always suit in the same style.

14. A Ladies Man

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Of course, Knotts was able to get all the ladies with his jokes and personality scoring women across the country. Can you blame him?

His daughter Karen once pointed out in an interview how this was particularly true between marriages. It makes sense when you think about it. Read more about that.

15. A Tale of Three Wives

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Even though he was considered a ladies man, he spent most of his adult life married. He had two children during his first marriage that lasted 17 years.

He had a second marriage that lasted 9 years and a third and final marriage that lasted from 2002 up until his death in 2006.

16. Drama on the Set

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Don Knotts also played Ralph Furley in the popular TV series “Three’s Company”. Suzanne Somers almost didn’t join him on the show as they had a long, drawn-out battle over her contract.

Don had to step in and read her lines in her place while she was on strike. Read more about that.

17. Pleasantville Repairman

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In more recent times, Knotts wanted to involve himself more in modern humor and a younger audience. He was able to score the role of the weird TV repairman in cult-classic ‘Pleasantville.’

He almost didn’t get that role. They were also looking Dick Van Dyke to play the part. Read more.

18. Dubbed and Impersonated

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After Pleasantville was finished, Don was getting older and became unable to travel back and forth to finish all of his dubbing sessions for the film.

A professional impersonator named Craig Shoemaker was hired to imitate Don’s voice and no one seemed to notice the difference. Read more about that in the next point.

19. Friends For Life

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Andy Griffith and Knotts remained friends up until Knotts’ last breath. They were always there for each other.

Griffith held Knotts’s hand and told him he loved him as he lost his battle to lung cancer.

Those who knew him were devastated and described him as a “very quiet man” who was “very sweet”, not like his character Barney.

20. Laid to Rest

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Pneumonia was listed as the official cause of Knott’s death. The obituaries spoke of his big influence on so many entertainers.

A statue was erected in his honor outside of The Metropolitan Theater in his hometown of Morgantown, West Virginia. But there was a reason why the statue had to put down.

21. What Happened to the Barney Fife Statue

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The Question we all ask: What happened to the Barney Five statue? The statue, however, would never be fully completed.

Paramount Studios stepped in and decided they did not approve of the artwork, and since they owned all rights to the show, it had to be taken down. Did you like it?

22. Like Father Like Daughter

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It’s been 15 years since Don passed, but his daughter, Karen, is still here to carry on her father’s legacy.

She’s built her own career around acting and comedy even though her dad initially wanted to keep her away from the industry. After seeing her passion for his craft, however, he knew he couldn’t keep her from it.

23. A One-Woman Show

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Karen went on tour doing stand-up where she would talk about what it was like growing up having Knotts for a father, of his personal life, and of his well-known career. Karen recalls how her father was a comedian until the end and how she had to leave his deathbed because he made her and her stepmother laugh so hard.

24. The Theme Song

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The Andy Griffith Show

On a lighter note, you probably remember the Andy Griffith Show theme song “Fishin’ Hole”.

The catchy tune was written in only 15 minutes and nobody sang it better than Andy so they let him sing the song for the show in the beginning. They got someone else to do it later.

25. Best Friends

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We know Andy Griffith and Don Knotts were close friends for life. What a wonderful thing if you find your best friend once a lifetime. Their priceless friendship first began in the ‘50s when they co-starred in a Broadway play entitled ‘No Time for Sergeants’.

It’s hard to imagine a closer Hollywood pair. Do you know a pair?

26. Not the Affectionate Type

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No Time for Sergeants

Elinor Donahue joined the cast as Ellie Walker. She was meant to be Andy’s love interest, but after 12 episodes, she asked to be released from her contract.

She never felt any chemistry with Andy and Andy would later claim that this was his fault. He claims he actually had a really hard time being affectionate for the camera.

27. Someone Else Threw the Rock

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No Time for Sergeants

Do you remember the end of the opening credits of the show where Opie and Andy are carrying fishing poles and stop to throw the rock in the water to make that splashing sound?

The funny story is that the young Ron Howard wasn’t able to throw it far enough and someone hiding in the bushes actually threw the rock.

28. Fans Thought 1 Bullet Wasn’t Enough

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The Andy Griffith Show

A running joke on the show was that Officer Barney was only allowed to carry one bullet in his gun because he couldn’t be trusted.

Because of this joke, fans everywhere decided it would be fun to send Don bullets so he would have more than one to play along.

29. Just Pretend You Didn’t See That

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It wasn’t uncommon for low-budget TV shows back in the day to have things end up on camera that shouldn’t have been.

These mistakes used to be difficult to spot when shown in black and white, but now that these old shows have been colorized, it’s a lot easier to spot.

30. Enemies Off-Set

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The Andy Griffith Show

Andy Griffith and Aunt Bee got along on camera, but couldn’t stand each other off. That’s how it often is, everything is fine on camera but off it’s a complete different thing. Basically, Frances thought of herself as a serious actress, and he was just some comedian.

They were able to make amends a few months before she passed.

31. The Quiet Guy on the Show

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The Andy Griffith Show

There was a man by the character’s name of Mr. Schwump. He was a Mayberry citizen who appeared in 26 or more episodes.

He didn’t have any speaking lines. He was a friend of Andy Griffith’s who was originally given lines, he just couldn’t ever manage to say them. Read more.

32. Sponsored by Ford

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The Andy Griffith Show

If you were a fan of the show, you might remember that Griffith’s patrol car was always a Ford Galaxy 500 sedan.

Ford decided to sponsor the show giving them a new model each time one came out which ended up being 10 free cars in total. Read more about that in the next point.

33. The Famous Town

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For the longest time, fans of the show thought that Mayberry didn’t actually exist. It turns out the outdoor location in the show is a real town called Mount Airy.

Mount Airy is actually Andy Griffith’s hometown despite Griffith denying this for years. We can see why he might’ve wanted to keep that private.

34. The Pickle Episode

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The Andy Griffith Show

“The Pickle Story” is the name of the episode voted best of the series. Aunt Bee was having trouble making good pickles.

Barney and Andy didn’t want to tell her how bad the pickles were so they kept eating them. Knotts recalled later how fun that episode was to film.

35. Ange

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The Andy Griffith Show

Barney was always calling Andy “Ange” on the show which was a combination of his first and last name. Sounds funny don’t you think? He called him that all the time.

Don liked the nickname for Andy so much that he started calling him Ange in real life too. Haha!

36. Post-Stroke

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The Andy Griffith Show

Howard McNear suffered a stroke while playing the character of Floyd the Barber. His left side was completely paralyzed.

The producers of the show got creative and set up props for Howard to lean on during his scenes. They also made him his own special stool that made it look like he was standing.

37. A Fiery Fling

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The Andy Griffith Show

If you remember Helen Crump played by Aneta Corsaut, you might find it interesting to know that she was only hired for one episode.

Aneta gave an excellent performance and was immediately a favorite. It’s no wonder she and Andy had a fling off-camera after their snow romance scene. Continue reading.

38. Forever February

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If you ever looked at the calendar on the wall in Floyd’s barbershop, you might’ve noticed that it’s always February.

No one is really sure whether this was done intentionally as Floyd’s character tended to be forgetful or if everyone just forgot to change it. Read more about that in the next point.

39. Angry Andy

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The Andy Griffith Show

Not a lot of people knew that Griffith had a pretty bad temper. Once during filming, he became so agitated that he punched a wall fracturing multiple fingers.

In order to finish the season, they had to write some backstory about Andy’s bandaged hand! Of course, his hand was injured by capturing criminals, not punching the wall.

40. Ending on a Good Note

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It’s not good for a TV show to go on too long. Audiences and production crews alike will eventually get fatigued from the show. This is why they decided to end the series after the eighth season.

On the Neilsen ratings, the show never ranked below 7th for the entire duration of the show.