Don Knotts on ‘Three’s Company’: Celebrating Icon’s Hilarious Role on Anniversary of First Appearance

by Jonathan Howard

There are iconic actors and then there are legendary actors. Don Knotts is one of those legendary characters that cannot be duplicated. From his time as a goofy sheriff’s deputy on The Andy Griffith Show to all the great movies and shows after. Knotts made himself a household name.

Now, it has been 43 years since Knotts first appeared as the landlord on Three’s Company. As Ralph Furley, Knotts was a goofy landlord, unsure of the living situation occurring at his rental property. Two women and a man? How peculiar. At this point, many knew the actor from his previous roles.

However, on Three’s Company, he was able to further his reputation as a comedy great and also further himself more from his Barney Fife character. While he wasn’t playing a replica of Fife on the show, his wild facial expressions and loud, boisterous objections were still very much present.

Prior to his appearance on the show, the building managers were the Ropers. Norman Fell and Audra Lindley played Stanley and Helen Roper from 1977-1979. They received their own sitcom, The Ropers. That show ended after just a couple of seasons. Many fans felt that the show ultimately upgraded when Don Knotts joined the cast.

From season four to season eight, at the conclusion of the series, Knotts played as Furley. Always wearing a bright, colorful, and fashionably questionable outfit, the goofy building manager was ultimately friendly. However, he also saw himself as something of a ladies’ man, and a bit of a penny pincher. In Furley’s mind, he was just as attractive and fashion-forward as Jack Tripper. Tripper was the swinging bachelor played by John Ritter.

Don Knotts Won an Award for ‘Three’s Company’

Of course, Knotts had a number of awards in his career. However, the majority of them came during his time on The Andy Griffith Show. As Barney Fife, he won plenty of awards throughout the 1960s. From 1961-1963, he took home the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor. That is quite a run, and he won it again in 1966 and 1967 after returning to the show.

After spending time doing the movie thing, he didn’t receive many more awards. In fact, he wouldn’t be granted another award until 2000 when his star was put on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That is until the TV Land Awards started. We all love TV Land, the one place to get all your old sitcoms and shows. He received the Legend Award in 2004. He was also nominated twice for Favorite Nosy Neighbor but failed to win.

Over the course of his career, Don Knotts made millions of people laugh. His time as Barney Fife set him up for a career of success and notoriety. As Ralph Furley, he brought his classic mannerisms and more to Three’s Company. What a wonderful actor.