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Despite having a difficult childhood, Don Knotts became a comedy legend. He was the heart and soul of The Andy Griffith Show as Barney Fife, and he was so good in it that no one even realized how exhausting it was for him. He had a fantastic movie career, performed on dozens of variety shows, and stole the show on Three’s Company as Mr. Furley. He was so good on Three’s Company that they kept having to reshoot his scenes as he made everyone laugh. He was also a devoted husband and father, and as he lay dying, his daughter says that she had to leave the room because of this unique reason.

How Knotts’ career started

According to MeTV, Knotts started doing comedy in the army, where he served from 1943 to ’46 as part of a comedy group called Stars and Gripes. He then transitioned into a ventriloquist act with a dummy called Danny “Hooch” Matador. He was on Search for Tomorrow for a short time and finally landed one of the best-known roles for playing Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show. 

Fife was the inept deputy to Griffith’s sheriff. He was known for his goofy faces, famous snort, and the singular bullet that Griffith allowed him to carry around in his front pocket. His larger than life portrayal of the bumbling Fife led him to five primetime Emmys for his stellar performance. After five years on the show, Knotts assumed Griffith was leaving; as it turned out, the network gave Griffith a large raise to stay, but Knotts decided his time had come, and his next step was the movies.

What did Knotts do after ‘The Andy Griffith Show’?

Knotts signed a five-picture deal with Universal Pictures. His first was The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966), The Reluctant Astronaut (1967), The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968), The Love God? (1969), and How to Frame a Figg (1971). He hosted his own variety show called the Don Knotts Show with Gary Burghoff, best known for playing Radar O’Reilly on Mash, but the show only lasted a few weeks. Still, his career didn’t slow down as he appeared on everyone else’s variety shows, including Sonny and Cher and Donny and Marie. In 1979, Knotts struck it big again as Mr. Furley on Three’s Company.

Why Knott’s daughter needed to leave her father’s bedside


‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Don Knotts Said Fans Were Constantly Giving Him This Controversial Item

Furley brought a whole new demographic to Don Knott’s brilliance for people who had not seen him in reruns of The Andy Griffith Show. As Furley, Knotts was the landlord for the apartments lived in by Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt), Chrissy Snow (Suzanne Somers), and Jack Tripper (John Ritter). Although most of this humor would be highly controversial today, Knotts did a fantastic job being both clueless and making snide double entendres. Toward the end of his career, Knotts starred in Return to Mayberry along with Andy Griffith and had a memorable part in the movie Pleasantville.

At the end of his life, surrounded by friends and family, his daughter only has one regret that caused her to have to leave her father’s bedside. As she explained to Closer Weekly, “He was literally dying, but he did something or said something that caused my stepmother and I to go into fits of laughter, which is why I ran out. I thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to be standing there in front of this man, my dearly beloved father, who’s dying, and laughing. I was telling this story to Howard Storm, who’s a director, and he said, ‘You should have stayed and laughed out loud. That’s what comedians live for!’ He was right; I should have just stood there and blasted out laughing.”