Don Knotts

Actor, Ventriloquist
In a typical Hollywood paradox, Don Knotts proved quite adept at securing steady work playing the frantically nervous and incompetent. With his ungainly, frail-looking physique, bulging eyes, weak chin and prominent ... Read more »
Born: 07/20/1924 in Morgantown, West Virginia, USA

Filmography

Actor (77)

Chicken Little 2005 (Movie)

Mayor Turkey Lurkey (Voice)

Las Vegas 2005 (Tv Show)

Actor

Robot Chicken 2005 (Tv Show)

Voice

TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV 2004 - 2005 (TV Show)

Actor

That '70s Show 2005 (Tv Show)

Actor

TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

The Andy Griffith Show Reunion 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

8 Simple Rules 2003 (Tv Show)

Actor

TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)

Actor

Inside TV Land 1999 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Ron Howard: Hollywood's Favorite Son 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Three's Company: The E! True Hollywood Story 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Andy Griffith: Hollywood's Homespun Hero 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Pleasantville 1998 (Movie)

TV Repairman (Actor)

Cats Don't Dance 1997 (Movie)

of T W (Voice)

Big Bully 1996 (Movie)

Principal Kokelar (Actor)

Comic Relief VII 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Matlock 1986 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Burke's Law 1955 - 1962, 1993 - 1994 (Tv Show)

Actor

Step by Step 1955 - 1962, 1993 - 1994 (Tv Show)

Actor

More of the Best of the Hollywood Palace 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

The Andy Griffith Show Reunion 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

A Precious Moments Christmas 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Voice

Hats Off to America 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

30 Years of Andy: A Mayberry Reunion 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night 1987 (Movie)

of Gee Willikers (Voice)

Search For Tomorrow 1951 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

What a Country! 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

George Burns Comedy Week 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

The Television Academy Hall of Fame 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Cannonball Run II 1984 (Movie)

2nd CHP (Actor)

Las Vegas: Palace of Stars 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

Piper's Pets 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again 1979 (Movie)

Theodore (Actor)

The Private Eyes 1979 (Movie)

Inspector Winship (Actor)

Hot Lead and Cold Feet 1978 (Movie)

Denver Kid (Actor)

The Captain and Tennille in Hawaii 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

The Prize Fighter 1978 (Movie)

Shake (Actor)

Alan King's Final Warning 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo 1977 (Movie)

Wheely Applegate (Actor)

Steve Allen's Laugh-Back 1975 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

Gus 1976 (Movie)

Coach Venner (Actor)

No Deposit, No Return 1976 (Movie)

Bert (Actor)

Harry and Maggie 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

The Apple Dumpling Gang 1975 (Movie)

Theodore Ogilvie (Actor)

Dinah in Search of the Ideal Man 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

The Many Faces of Comedy 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

I Love a Mystery 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

The Man Who Came to Dinner 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

How to Frame a Figg 1971 (Movie)

Hollis Figg (Actor)

The Don Knotts Show 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Actor

Looking Back 1968 - 1969 (TV Show)

Actor

The Love God? 1969 (Movie)

Abner Peacock (Actor)

The Andy Griffith Show 1960 - 1968 (TV Show)

Actor

The Shakiest Gun in the West 1968 (Movie)

Jesse W Heywood (Actor)

Andy Griffith's Uptown-Downtown Show 1966 - 1967 (TV Show)

Actor

The Reluctant Astronaut 1966 (Movie)

Roy Fleming (Actor)

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken 1965 (Movie)

Luther Heggs (Actor)

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World 1963 (Movie)

Nervous Man (Actor)

The Incredible Mr. Limpet 1963 (Movie)

Henry Limpet (Actor)

Move Over, Darling 1962 (Movie)

Shoe Salesman (Actor)

The Steve Allen Show 1955 - 1962 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Last Time I Saw Archie 1961 (Movie)

Captain Little (Actor)

Wake Me When It's Over 1960 (Movie)

Sgt Warren (Actor)

No Time For Sergeants 1958 (Movie)

Manual Dexterity Corporal (Actor)

I Love a Mystery (Movie)

Alexander Archer (Actor)

Quints (TV Show)

Actor

Return to Mayberry (TV Show)

Actor

Three's Company (TV Show)

Actor

Tom Sawyer (TV Show)

Voice
Writer (1)

How to Frame a Figg 1971 (Movie)

(From Story)

Biography

In a typical Hollywood paradox, Don Knotts proved quite adept at securing steady work playing the frantically nervous and incompetent. With his ungainly, frail-looking physique, bulging eyes, weak chin and prominent Adam's apple, he confounded traditional notions of what a screen star should be, but that's exactly what he was for the better part of three decades. After great success in the 1960s as a TV second banana, Knotts spent much of the second half of that decade as a feature comedy star. Nevertheless, the small screen proved the more hospitable home. His Deputy Barney Fife, a bumbling but basically benign braggart, provided many of the laughs on the hugely successful rustic sitcom "The Andy Griffith Show" (CBS, 1960-68). Knotts' high-pitched whine provided comic counterpart to the soothing cracker-barrel homilies delivered by Griffith's Sheriff Andy Taylor for five seasons. Revealingly, Andy never let his deputy carry more than one bullet--and in his shirt pocket at that! Nonetheless, Knotts racked up an impressive winning streak of Emmys for "Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Comedy", taking home the statuette for 1960/61, 1961/62, 1962/63, 1965/66 and 1966/67. Griffth would also credit his co-star for writing many of Barney Fife's most inspired comic scenes.

Knotts got his first taste of showbiz in the Army during WWII while serving in the South Pacific Theatre of Operations. More specifically, he was a comedian in a touring G.I. variety show called "Stars and Gripes". After the service, Knotts went to college where he earned a teaching degree but turned down a fellowship, opting to move to NYC to pursue acting. He found work in radio and TV, doing a stint on a soap and on the children's show "Howdy Doody", as Tim Tremble, a nervous friend of Buffalo Bob. Knotts gained some attention with sketch appearances on "The Gary Moore Show" and, from 1956-60, gained further exposure as part of the ensemble of "The Steve Allen Show", a superior NBC comedy variety series. In between TV assignments, Knotts made his Broadway debut in 1955's "No Time for Sergeants", his first collaboration with Griffith. He reprised the role of Manual Dexterity Corporal for TV on CBS's "The US Steel Hour" and the 1958 feature (his film debut). The latter again paired him with Griffith who subsequently hired Knotts to co-star in his sitcom.

Knotts left "The Andy Griffith Show" to pursue a feature career. He had fared well in supporting roles, notably playing a mousy shoe salesman in the Doris Day vehicle "Move Over, Darling" (1963), but his TV success gave him leading man status beginning with "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" (1964). This innocuous family film--a live-action/animation blend about a wimpy bookkeeper and fish-lover who becomes a war hero after magically transforming into a dolphin-- was no great shakes but remains a fond memory to many thirtysomethings who watched TV in their youth. His subsequent films were also low-budget kiddie fodder whose titles tell the tale: "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" (1966), "The Reluctant Astronaut" (1967) and "The Shakiest Gun in the West" (1968). The latter, a remake of the 1948 Bob Hope vehicle "The Paleface", was one of his better efforts. Knotts' 60s film career concluded with "The Love God?" (1969), helmed by "Sgt. Bilko" creator Nat Hiken, in which he played a take-off on PLAYBOY's Hugh Hefner named Abner Peacock.

After a brief return to TV as the host and star of the comedy-variety series "The Don Knotts Show" (NBC, 1970-71), the 70s found Knotts in more juvenile film fare, sometimes paired with Tim Conway in broad comedies. The duo of TV veterans appeared in six features together (as of 1996) beginning with the Disney Western comedy "The Apple Dumpling Gang" (1975). Knotts had to return to TV to enjoy a more high profile project.

Joining the hit "sexy" sitcom "Three's Company" in 1979 as busybody landlord Ralph Furley, Knotts stayed for five seasons, often clad in a ridiculous leisure suit, leering and bugging out at the amorous hijinks of his youthful tenants. He put his badge back on to reprise the role of Barney Fife, now engaged and running for sheriff, in the hugely popular reunion TV-movie "Return to Mayberry" (NBC, 1986), and the character was revisited once more in 2003's "The Andy Griffith Show Reunion: Back to Mayberry" (NBC, 2003). He and Griffith were subsequently reunited on the latter's NBC courtroom drama series "Matlock". From 1988-92, Knotts played the recurring role of pesky neighbor Les Calhoun, the self-proclaimed "King of Plastic".

Knotts has also appeared in numerous specials throughout his long TV career, often as the star. He has also done stage and voice work. Knotts returned to movies--albeit direct-to-video--as Principal Kokelar in the high school comedy "Big Bully" (1996). He fared much better with his pivotal role as a mysterious TV repairman in "Pleasantville" (1998). Knotts continued to appear often on television, playing himself on former co-star John Ritter's ABC sitcom "8 Simple Rules..." in 2003, as well as on a 2005 episode of the NBC series "Las Vegas." He then lent his quavery vocals to Disney's CGI-animated feature "Chicken Little" (2005) as Mayor Turkey Lurkey, which was released a few months before the actor's death in early 2006 at age 81.

Relationships

William Jesse Knotts

Father

Elsie Knotts

Mother

Loralee Czuchna

Wife
married in 1974 divorced

Karen Knotts

Daughter
mother, Kathryn Metz

Thomas Knotts

Son
mother, Kathryn Metz

Kathryn Metz

Wife
married in 1948 divorced in 1969

Francey Yarborough Actor

Wife
married in 2002 until his death in 2006

EDUCATION

University of Arizona

Tucson , Arizona

Morgantown High School

Morgantown , West Virginia 1942

University of West Virginia

Morgantown , West Virginia 1948
graduated

Milestones

2005

Voiced Mayor Turkey Lurkey in the animated feature "Chicken Little"

2000

Honored with star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (January 19)

1998

Had pivotal role in "Pleasantville," as a folksy TV repairman

1996

Returned to features in the role of the school principal in "Big Bully"

1995

Participated in the HBO benefit special "Comic Relief"

1986

Reprised the role of Barney Fife for the hugely successful (highest rated of its season) TV-movie reunion "Return to Mayberry"

1975

First feature pairing with Tim Conway, "The Apple Dumpling Gang"

1969

Received story credit for the feature, "How to Frame a Figg" (also starred)

1965

Co-hosted first TV special, "The Andy Griffith-Don Knotts-Jim Nabors Show" on CBS

1964

First starring role in a film, "The Incredible Mr. Limpet"

1958

Reprised role for the film version of "No Time for Sergeants"

1953

Appeared in a recurring role on the (initially) CBS soap opera "Search for Tomorrow"

Completed college degree; offered teaching fellowship (which he declined)

Started out in radio in a show entitled "Bobby Benson and the B Bar B's"

Hosted and starred in "The Don Knotts Show", an NBC comedy-variety series

Joined the cast of the hit sitcom "Three's Company" as landlord Ralph Furley

Made first TV appearances on shows including "Howdy Doody"

Appeared as a regular ensemble member on "The Steve Allen Show", an NBC comedy/variety series; moved to Hollywood with the production in the fall of 1959

Played Deputy Barney Fife on the popular CBS sitcom, "The Andy Griffith Show"; left to focus on film career (made occassional guest appearances through 1968)

In the Army, became part of a show called "Stars and Gripes" with partner Michael Shaughnessy

Moved to NYC to pursue an acting career

Made recurring appearances on "The Garry Moore Show", a CBS variety series

Drafted into the US Army during WWII; served in the South Pacific

Broadway debut, "No Time for Sergeants"; first collaboration with Andy Griffith

Played the recurring role of pesky neighbor Les Calhoun on the popular NBC courtroom drama, "Matlock", starring Andy Griffith

Bonus Trivia

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Knotts had a street named in his honor in his hometown of Morgantown, West Virginia, in 1998.

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