Don Knotts was an American legendary actor, and comedian. The five times Emmy Awards winner is famous for his role as Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife on 1960s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show.
He also starred in several other comedy films and sitcoms including 1964 The Incredible Mr. Limpet where he appeared as Henry Limpet, 1966’s The Ghost and Mr. Chicken where he played the character of Luther Heggs. Knotts also portrayed Ralph Furley on the sitcom Three’s Company.
Apart from the five Emmy Awards, he earned from playing Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, in 1979, he was ranked #27 of 50 Greatest TV Stars of All in 1979 TV Guide. Learn more about this legendary actor, his Bio, wife, kids, and death.
Don Knotts was born in Morgantown, West Virginia, on the 21st of July 1924 as Jesse Donald Knotts. He was the youngest of the four children (all boys) born to William Jesse Knotts (a farmer) and his wife, Elsie Luzetta Knotts.
He has an English ancestry. His brothers are Willis, William, and Ralph. He attended Morgantown High School and later served in the U.S army during the second world war. After the war, he headed to West Virginia University from where he bagged a B.A in education with a minor in speech in 1948.
His acting career actually dates back to his childhood days. Before Don Knotts got into High School, he performed as a comedian and ventriloquist at various gatherings including churches, social events and even at school functions.
After high school, he relocated to New York City to see if he could cave a niche for himself as a comedian but when things failed to work out as he planned, he went back home to attend college. It was during his first year that the war broke out and he had to serve in the Army. During his time with the army, Knotts was said to spend most of his time, entertaining troops.
He was also said to have toured the western Pacific Islands as part of a G.I. variety show called “Stars and Gripes”, showing off his skills as a comedian. After he was discharged from the U.S army in 1946 as a Grade 5 Technician, he returned to the university to finish his studies and graduated in 1948.
During his military service, Knotts received several awards and medals which included World War II Victory Medal, Honorable Service lapel pin, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal, Marksman Badge and Army Good Conduct Medal.
His first breakthrough into the world of acting came in 1953 when he appeared in a soap opera, Search for Tomorrow, which aired from 1953 – 1955. This was followed by Steve Allen’s variety show, Man in the Street, which brought him fame. He was on the show til 1960. Between 1955, and 1957, Don Knotts played two roles in the Broadway play version of No Time for Sergeants.
In 1958, he appeared for the first time in a film and that was in Andy Griffith’s film version of No Time for Sergeants. His major breakthrough came in 1960 when Griffith offered him the opportunity to spearhead his sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show – which ran from 1960–1968.
In the show, Knotts played the role of Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife and the role earned him his first five Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Television 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 lots more.
Who Is Don Knotts Wife, Frances Yarborough? Children
The movie icon was married thrice. His first marriage was in 1947 and it was to Kathryn Metz. Their marriage lasted till 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 with Frances Yarborough, the couple were married from 2002 until his death in 2006.
Knotts has two children from his first marriage with Kathryn Metz. A son named Thomas Knotts and actress Karen Knotts.
His Later Years And Death
In 2000, Dan Knotts was recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2003, he appeared in a stage version of On Golden Pond. The legendary actor soon began appearing less on TV when he became virtually blind as a result of a medical condition known as macular degeneration. Knotts also struggled with hypochondria.
He died in February (24) 2006 at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center LA, after suffering from complications of pneumonia which is related to lung cancer which he had been treating months before his death.
He was buried at Westwood Memorial Park LA at the age of 81. There is a statue of Don Knotts in front of The Metropolitan Theatre on High Street Morgantown, West Virginia erected in honor of him.