July 21, 1924 – February 24, 2006
“I took a lot of Barney into films like the Shakiest Gun in the West and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. I have no regrets about the effect that character had on me.”
by Kevin and me
Don Knotts was certainly a unique character. Whether you liked him as Barney Fife, from the Andy Griffith Show, or as Mr. Furley with the worst toupé ever ever ever on Three’s Company, he was great. Like many TV stars of the Sixties (such as Don Adams or Bob Denver), he was typecast, and he embraced it. Don did movies as well, including The Incredible Mr. Limpet, The Apple Dumpling Gang, and later on, a magical role in Pleasantville, with Leo’s boyfriend Tobey and Reese. My (Scott) personal favorite was The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.
Don (born Jesse) had a turbulent childhood. His father suffered from hysterical blindness, twice threatened his mother with a knife, and seldom left his bed because of depression. His three brothers constantly drank and fought, and one died from an asthma attack while Don was still a teen. A lot of times people that come from f*cked up homes become entertainers, have you noticed? Thanks Jayne, for the info.
Don, a former smoker, was apparently suffering from lung cancer, and cancelled a public appearance in his hometown of Morgantown, West Virginia last year due to illness. Towards the end of his life, Don was living with the age-related eye disease, macular degeneration (like Stephen King is now).
Don and Mrs. Knotts, Francey Yarborough, lived together in a fourth floor condo in West Los Angeles.
Just walk up to the door, and ring the bell.
Thanks Steve, for that tip.
On Friday, February 24, 2006, at 11:00 p.m., he died at UCLA, (corrected from an earlier report that it was Cedars. Reuters reported it incorrectly, thus so did I) from complications of lung cancer.
His (38 year old) third wife (of two years) was at his side. Andy Griffith had visited him earlier that day, hours before he died. According to Andy, “I was with him just before he died. He was kind of unconscious. I don’t know that he could hear me, but we all believe he heard my voice. I told him I loved him.” According to one “close” source, Don and his wife had been together for twenty years.
He was 81 years old.
When Knotts’ death was announced, Andy Griffith issued this statement: “Don was a small man … but everything else about him was large: his mind, his expressions. Don was special. There’s nobody like him. I loved him very much. We had a long and wonderful life together.” Of course, Johnny Grant sent flowers that graced Don’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
On a Monday afternoon, Don was buried in a $36,000 grave near Eva Gabor in Westwood Memorial Park, in Los Angeles.
I have no funeral details, and they hauled out that old chestnut about a public memorial that we won’t be privy to.
He won five Emmys for his role as Barney Fife.
He died on the same day as Dennis Weaver, and the day before Darren McGavin. Bad week for Sixties male TV stars with names that start with D.
He started out as a ventriloquist (eek) and a magician.
Check out this great website about The Andy Griffith Show, HERE.