Why Andy Griffith Worried Don Knotts Wouldn’t Go to Heaven

Andy Griffith and Don Knotts had great success with the The Andy Griffith Show. Beyond the show, the two men were friends for many years. Griffith had a very strong Christian faith. He wondered at Knotts’ death where he stood in his beliefs. Let’s take a look at the circumstances that finally allowed Griffith to find peace knowing he would find his friend in heaven.

Andy Griffith and Don Knotts dressed as police officers
Andy Griffith and Don Knotts | CBS via Getty Images

Andy Griffith’s religious beliefs

Firstly, a little background. HuffPost reports that Griffith was a devout Christian. As a child, he attended Sunday School and later was a choir director before he began playing Sheriff Andy Taylor. As Griffith faced health issues later in life, he leaned on his faith. Griffith stated, “I firmly believe that in every situation, no matter how difficult, God extends grace greater than the hardship, and strength and peace of mind that can lead us to a place higher than where we were before.”

How Don Knott’s death spiritually impacted Andy Griffith

After Knotts died, Griffith struggled because he did not know whether his friend had come to accept God. The thought that Knotts might not have done so troubled Griffith. In the book Andy & Don, Daniel de Visé writes, “Andy yearned to know whether his best friend had accepted God and gone to heaven. He knew the Bible-thumpers back in West Virginia had spooked Don, had given him nightmares, had ultimately chased him away from organized religion. Don and Andy didn’t talk much about God, but Andy sensed Don’s position on faith was agnostic at best. Also, Don had died before Andy could ask. Now he dearly hoped to see Don in the hereafter.”

The theme of The Andy Griffith Show

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What happened at Don Knott’s funeral

Griffith attended Knott’s Unitarian funeral service and told the minister he believed Knotts would go to heaven – even though the minister did not say so in his sermon. However, Griffith stated what he believed as he spoke at the funeral, “And I take comfort because I know that Don… is… in … paradise!” After the funeral, Griffith said that he felt there was a place “for all of us in God’s kingdom” and that he new he would see Knotts again in the afterlife.

How Andy Griffith was finally assured he would meet his friend in heaven

On Griffith’s 86th birthday, Knotts wife, Francey, called Griffith to wish him well. Andy began talking about his old friend – something he had avoided since Knotts’ passing. It was in that conversation that Francey told Griffith what Knotts said before he died. Francey repeated to Griffith that Knotts had said he was waiting “for the great wizard in the sky to take me away.”

(L to R): Andy Griffith and Ron Howard in a scene from 'The Andy Griffith Show'
Andy Griffith as Andy Taylor and Ron Howard as Opie Taylor|CBS via Getty Images

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Griffith was very thankful Francey had shared Knotts words with him. He was overtaken with emotion as those words meant everything to Griffith. De Visé writes, “To him, heaven was real, a place he hoped to go, and he wanted more than anything else to see Don there when he arrived. Now, he had reason for hope.”