A Mayberry State Of Mind
Don Knotts / Barney Fife
Jesse Donald Knotts, born July 21, 1924 in Morgan town, West Virginia, where he was raised. Don is the youngest of 4 sons born to William Jesse Knotts and Elsie L. Moore. During his childhood, Don Knotts' father became a paranoid schizophrenic and alcoholic. Don has sometimes joked that he drove his father crazy.
Don first began entertaining as a ventriloquist in high school and performed at parties and events in his hometown of Morgan town. After graduation, Don moved to New York City to take a try at show business. He only stayed in New York a few weeks before returning to West Virginia to attend college at the West Virginia University. At age 19, he joined the Army during World War II, where he was assigned to the Special Services branch. His job duty in the Army was primarily of entertaining the troops in a GI variety show called Stars and Gripes. After leaving the Army, Don returned to West Virginia University. He graduated with a degree in theater in 1948, got married, and moved back to New York where he did some stand up comedy and a role as Windy Wales on the radio show, The Bobby Benson Show. From 1953-1955 he was a regular on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow. Don met Andy Griffith when he auditioned for a small role in Andy’s hit play, No Time for Sergeants. The two soon bonded while whittling sticks. They worked together for almost two years on Broadway. They both reprized their roles in the film adaptation of No Time for Sergeants, which was Don’s first movie.
In 1959, Don moved to California, where he soon after was cast as the Deputy Barney Fife in The Andy Griffith Show, the role that made him famous. Don played Deputy Fife for the next five years, winning Emmy's for Best Supporting Actor in 1961, 1962, 1963, 1966, and 1967. Thinking the show was ending after the fifth season, Don signed a contract with Universal Studios for five movies, so could not return as a regular when it was decided to continue the show another season, but did return for five more episodes during the final three seasons.
Don Knotts’ films include It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964), The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966), The Reluctant Astronaut (1967), The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968), and How to Frame a Figg (1971). After his five film contract with Universal Studios ended, Don continued to work steadily, but did not have have a regular role again until 1979 when he began to play Mr. Furley on Three’s Company until the show ended in 1984. In 1986 he reunited with Andy Griffith in the television movie Return to Mayberry and had recurring roles in Andy’s hit show Matlock until 1992. After 1992, Don had small roles in various movies and television shows. Sadly, Don Knotts passed away on February 24, 2006 at the age of 81 from lung cancer, but his character of Barney Fife will forever live on as The Andy Griffith Show continues to garner fans from every generation for over 50 years later.
With out the Deputy called Fife, what would have happened to the quiet, small North Carolina town called Mayberry. Barney Fife had a nose for fetching out them stills as he showed us all when he arrested hard to find Rafe Hollister. While Andy seemed to be more lacks in his duty, Barney always followed it to the letter. He was never partial and treated everyone the same, he'd even frisk his mother if he felt the need, which he did on least one occasion. He fought all the tough crimes wrote out many of tickets for J Walking and Littering, what ever it took to stop Mayberry from becoming a regular sin city. Many of the ladies felt Ole Barn had a striking resemblance to Rock Hudson and at least one compared him to Frank Sinatra.While at times when relaxing on the porch and or accompanying Andy on the Guitar, Barney could sing yet at other times he sounded like a sick cat caught in a fan. Barney while having a reputation as a ladies man and held a number of relationships he only had a few that were as serious as the one he had with Thelma Lou. She was always by his side and forgave him for all his faults and helped him with his worries.