Don Knotts was a legendary American actor and comedian. The five-time Emmy Award winner is famous for his role as Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife in the 1960s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show.
He also starred in several other comedy films and sitcoms, including The Incredible Mr. Limpet in 1964, where he appeared as Henry Limpet, The Ghost in 1966, and Mr. Chicken, where he played the role of Luther Heggs. Knotts also portrayed Ralph Furley in the sitcom Three’s Company.
Apart from the five Emmy Awards he earned for his role as Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith Show, he was voted 27th of the 50 biggest TV stars of all in the 1979 TV magazine in 1979. Learn more about this legendary actor, his biography, his wife, his children, and his death.
Don Knotts was born on July 21, 1924, in Morgantown, West Virginia, as Jesse Donald Knotts. He was the youngest of four children (all boys) of William Jesse Knotts (a farmer) and his wife Elsie Luzetta Knotts.
He has English descent. His brothers are Willis, William, and Ralph. He attended Morgantown High School and later served in the US Army during World War II. After the war, he went to West Virginia University, where he received a B.A. in Education with a minor in Speech in 1948.
His acting career actually goes back to his childhood. Before Don Knotts entered high school, he performed as a comedian and ventriloquist at various gatherings, including churches, social gatherings, and even school events.
After high school, he moved to New York City to see if he could find a niche for himself as a comedian, but when things didn’t work out as he had planned, he went back home to attend college. War broke out his freshman year, and he had to serve in the army. During his time in the army, Knotts is said to have spent most of his time maintaining the troops.
He is also said to have toured the Western Pacific in a G.I. variety show called “Stars and Gripes”, demonstrating his skills as a comedian. After being discharged from the U.S. Army in 1946 as a Class 5 technician, he returned to the university to complete his studies and graduated in 1948.
During his military service, Knotts received several awards and medals, including the World War II Victory Medal, the Medal of Honor for Service, the Asia-Pacific Campaign Medal, the Philippine Liberation Medal, the Rifleman’s Badge, and the Medal for Good Conduct in the Army.
His first breakthrough in the world of acting came in 1953 when he appeared in the soap opera “Search for Tomorrow”, which was broadcast from 1953 to 1955. It followed Steve Allen’s variety show “Man in the Street” which brought him fame. He was on the show until 1960. Between 1955 and 1957 Don Knotts played two roles in the Broadway play version of No Time for Sergeants.
In 1958 he appeared in a film for the first time, in Andy Griffith’s adaptation of No Time for Sergeants. His big breakthrough came in 1960 when Griffith offered him the opportunity to lead his sitcom The Andy Griffith Show, which ran from 1960-1968.
On the show, Knotts played the role of Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife, and that role earned him his first five Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a TV comedy and three other awards. His other comedy appearances include The Incredible Mr. Limpet, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Shakiest Gun in the West, The Love God?, The Reluctant Astronaut, How to Frame a Figg, Three’s Company, Return to Mayberry and many others.
Who Is Don Knotts Wife, Frances Yarborough? Children
The film icon was married three times. His first marriage was in 1947, to Kathryn Metz. Their marriage lasted until 1964. Ten years later, Knotts tied the knots again, this time with Loralee Czuchna. They were married from 1974 to 1983.
His third and last marriage was to Frances Yarborough, the couple was married from 2002 until his death in 2006.
Knotts has two children from his first marriage to Kathryn Metz. A son named Thomas Knotts and the actress Karen Knotts.
His Later Years And Death
In 2000, Don Knotts was awarded a star on the Walk of Fame by Hollywood. In 2003 he appeared in a stage version of On Golden Pond. The legendary actor soon began appearing less on television when he became practically blind due to a condition known as macular degeneration. Knotts also struggled with hypochondria.
He died in February (24) 2006 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center LA after dying from complications of pneumonia related to the lung cancer he had been treating months before his death.
He was buried at the age of 81 years in Westwood Memorial Park LA. In front of the Metropolitan Theatre in the High Street of Morgantown, West Virginia, stands a statue of Don Knotts, which was erected in his honor.