‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star Ron Howard Remembers Don Knotts on Late Actor’s Birthday

by Joe Rutland

Actor-director Ron Howard is sweetly remembering his costar from The Andy Griffith Show, Don Knotts, on Knotts’ birthday. Howard offers up some tender words about Knotts in a message from Twitter on Thursday. Of course, Knotts played Deputy Barney Fife in the CBS sitcom. That was opposite Howard, who played Opie Taylor, Andy Taylor’s son. Let’s see what Howard writes here about his dear friend.

Fans flooded Howard’s comments with their own remembrances of Knotts or heart emojis. Millions of people grew up seeing Knotts in probably his best-known role. Yet he was not finished with television. Another generation would see Knotts play Ralph Furley on Three’s Company.

Don Knotts Starred On ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ For Five Seasons

Knotts would leave The Andy Griffith Show after just five seasons. Losing him would actually leave a void there. Comedian Jack Burns tried to fill it as Warren, but that did not work out. Knotts would make occasional guest-starring appearances as Fife after leaving. The actor was fond of saying that he would not have left the sitcom. Why did he? Well, Knotts thought that Griffith was just going to do the show for five seasons. Upon reaching that mark, he started looking for other work. Knotts would sign a movie deal with Universal Pictures. It led him to star in movies like The Reluctant Astronaut and The Love God?, among others.

Yet Knotts and Griffith had worked together before the sitcom. If you have seen No Time for Sergeants, then you know that the actors had a memorable scene together. The movie was done after the play had been a hit on Broadway. Griffith starred as Will Stockdale.

Andy Griffith Wasn’t a Fan of Knotts’ Work on ‘Three’s Company’

Howard would play Opie for the show’s entire eight-season run. All the gang would come back together one more time in the TV movie Return to Mayberry. It would be the last time Knotts played Barney from The Andy Griffith Show. But he and Griffith even worked together on Griffith’s legal drama Matlock. One time, in an interview, Griffith recalled having to tell Knotts to turn his acting down a notch. He had not been a big fan of Knotts’ work on Three’s Company. Griffith felt like Knotts was simply going over the top in his portrayal of Furley.

“I thought Don, for instance, was awful on Three’s Company,” Griffith would say in an interview for the Archive of American Television. Griffith adds that “I told him when he came into Matlock. I said, ‘Don, bring it down, bring it down. You were on Three’s Company too long.’ Because he was performing the same way with those big, huge takes and everything.”