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Comedic actor Don Knotts (July 21, 1924-February 24, 2006) will be forever remembered as the nervous deputy Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith Show on television. Knotts, who was born in Morgantown, graduated from Morgantown High School and received a drama degree from West Virginia University. After appearing in Broadway and screen versions of No Time for Sergeants in the 1950s, he became a regular on the Steve Allen Show. Knotts received five Emmy Awards for his work on the Andy Griffith Show from 1960 to 1965. Originally, Griffith was intended to be the comedic lead, but as he said later, “By the second episode, I knew that Don should be funny and I should play straight.” After leaving the show, he earned three additional Emmys for guest appearances and starred in a number of feature films. Knotts returned to television in the late 1970s, portraying a meddling landlord on Three’s Company, which co-starred another West Virginia native, Joyce DeWitt. In the 1980s and 1990s, Knotts performed in a number of stage productions and appeared occasionally on Andy Griffith’s show, Matlock.

Don Knotts died in Los Angeles. On July 23, 2016, Jamie Lester’s statue of Knotts in his role as Barney Fife was unveiled in front of The Metropolitan Theatre on High Street in Morgantown.


e-WV presents West Virginia Public Broadcasting on Don Knotts

This Article was written by Stan Bumgardner

Last Revised on March 14, 2023


From Mayberry to Charleston. Charleston Gazette, 4/29/1993.

Cite This Article

Bumgardner, Stan "Don Knotts." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 14 March 2023. Web. 12 July 2024.


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