Don Knotts, born Jesse Donald Knotts, was an american comedian, mostly know for his role as Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show. Don Kotts was born on July 21, 1924 in a West Virginian suburb city. He is best remembered by his performances on television, and his biography is well documented, as well as fascinating.
His family had been inhabitants of America since the 17th century, and his parents were both farmers. Jesse was the youngest of four sons in the family. His father was an alcoholic, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia when after he suffered a nervous breakdown. Don was thirteen at the time, and began his comedy career roughly at the same time, first by performing ventriloquist acts at parties and other places in the local Morgantown. He briefly went to New York to search for fortune there, but couldn't keep up with the tense life of a big city, and went back home after a few weeks.
Knotts got married with Kathryn Metz, with whom he had a daughter and a son, and then eventually settled down at New York. Don then started doing stand-up comedy at various clubs, but first saw mainstream attention through television in 1953, when he performed in the soap opera Search For Tomorrow. He then met Andy Griffith during a Broadway play, and again, he didn't even know that the meeting would prove to be crucial for his future career. In 1956, he performed with Andy Griffith on The Steve Allen Show, where he first started developing his iconic nervous persona.
In 1960, Don joined the Andy Griffith Show and instantly became a comedy legend. He won five Emmies for his performance at the show. He then starred in films, usually acting his trademark nervous man role. In 1970, he had a show of his own, but it didn't gain much popularity and was was canceled rather quickly. Nothing much happened at Don's career life until the the end of '70s, where he, starting from 1979, portrayed the landlord Ralph Furley on the famous American sitcom Three's Company.
After the show ended in 1986, Knotts tried and established a little reunion with Andy Griffith in the film Return to Mayberry. He went inactive and mainly acted a voice actor after the rather successful reunion. Don was still a recognized stand-up comedian, but his failing health lead to fewer and fewer live performances. His voice acting highlights include acting the voice for the 2002 Scooby Doo video game, Robot Chicken, and others.
Although Knotts, like many comedian geniuses, was an archetype of the ever-depressed comedian, who can only laugh on stage and seldom laughs in real life. His geeky, nervous character was one of the best moments that comedy ever saw, as comedians know how hard it is to make a superficially evil and arrogant character extremely funny, like Knotts did. Knotts died in 2006 from lung cancer complications with his daughter and wife beside his bed. Andy Griffith had reportedly visited him a few hours before his death.
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