‘Matlock’: Don Knotts Daughter Revealed How Andy Griffith Fought To Get Knotts on the Show

by Chris Haney

Hollywood stars Don Knotts and Andy Griffith shared an obvious on-screen chemistry with one another. The pair worked together so well during their careers, that Griffith often tried to involve Knotts in any project he worked on just about. For example, Knotts’ daughter once revealed that Griffith fought hard to get his old pal on Matlock in the late ’80s.

The Andy Griffith Show actors were close on set and off of it. The stars became household names during their time on the Mayberry series. Sheriff Andy Taylor laid down the law in the small town along with the help of his trusty, albeit accident-prone, Deputy Barney Fife.

The tandem’s on-screen relationship worked perfectly on the popular classic TV show that ran from 1960 to 1968. Ironically though, in the early stages of the show’s production, Griffith played the comedic actor and Knotts was the straight-laced character. After only one episode, they changed things up, and for the next 248 episodes fans came to know the stoic Sheriff Taylor and the goofy Deputy Fife well.

The pairing seemed to work so well that Andy Griffith wanted to work with his friend whenever he could. Rumors floated around for years that Griffith became jealous of Don Knotts and his subsequent movie career. However, Karen Knotts put that to rest when speaking to FOX News in 2018.

“One thing I will tell you, and one thing that is different from what has been written in books, was that Andy was never jealous of my dad. He was his biggest fan and mentor. Everything later he was in, he wanted to get my dad in, too… He was in my dad’s corner,” Don Knotts’ daughter told the outlet.

Andy Griffith Went To Bat for Don Knotts As the Pair Starred in ‘Matlock’ Together

As The Andy Griffith Show came to a close in 1968, each of the men were bonafide stars. Don Knotts had already started to take lead roles in comedic movies in the ’60s. He starred in films like 1964’s The Incredible Mr. Limpet, 1966’s The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, and 1967’s The Reluctant Astronaut.

Knotts also had a starring role on Three’s Company in the late ’70s and early ’80s as building manager Ralph Furley. However, by the mid-1980s, his roles began to dry up. Around that time, Andy Griffith had just landed the title role on his new criminal defense attorney TV series Matlock. In 1986, as the show debuted, Griffith insisted that Don Knotts join him once again.

“Even when he was on Matlock, and my dad wasn’t working at the time, [Griffith] went to producers and said, ‘I want Don Knotts on the show,'” Karen Knotts shared. “They said, ‘No, this is a dramatic show, there’s no part for a character comedian.'”

“He kept fighting and fighting, and then they put him on, but they didn’t want to pay him much. Andy went to the mat and fought with them on that. They gave him not really what he should have gotten, but at least a decent salary,” she added.

From 1988 to 1992, Knotts appeared on Matlock before its cancellation in 1995. Like Knotts’ daughter said, Griffith had his old friend’s back, and it helped the pair make TV magic once again for a few years on Matlock.