HomeEntertainment‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Don Knotts Wore Barney Fife’s Nice Suit in Big-Screen Films

‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Don Knotts Wore Barney Fife’s Nice Suit in Big-Screen Films

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

We all have that one fancy outfit that makes us feel like a million bucks. We take it out for every formal occasion and save it for when we really want to get all dolled up. Don Knotts was the same way, except his fancy outfit wasn’t a few pieces he pulled off the rack at JC Penney; his fancy suit originated with Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show.

Don Knotts’ fancy dress suit came from an episode of The Andy Griffith Show where Barney takes his girlfriend Thelma Lou, played by the late Betty Lynn, on a date. He shows up in a grey and white speckled suit, white boater hat, and striped bowtie.

It’s a far cry from his usual deputy’s uniform, and he wears it well. So well, in fact, that Don Knotts would go on to wear the suit in at least three other films. Knotts wore the suit for his roles in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Reluctant Astronaut, and How to Frame a Figg. The unassuming grey suit became an iconic, staple look for Don Knotts.

‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Thelma Lou Broke Barney’s Heart

In Thelma Lou’s last appearance on The Andy Griffith Show, she actually did the unthinkable: broke Barney’s heart. Betty Lynn recalled the episode in an interview during a 1991 cast reunion on Nashville Now. She was asked, “How could you do that to Barney?” and replied,

“More people ask me that, it’s like I set out to do the most terrible thing in the whole world was to hurt Barney Fife.” Lynn continued, “I was hurt, that was my last show! And I really, I was shocked when I got the script. I had no idea. I read this and I thought, what?”

Betty Lynn didn’t like the script, but she was a professional, so she performed it beautifully. She said, The first reading I said, ‘I don’t think she’d ever do this! I don’t think she’d ever do this!’ And [director and producer] Aaron Ruben said, ‘Oh yes, she really is doing this.’ So I said, ‘Well okay.’ I was kinda sad […].”

Additionally, Lynn mentioned fans’ reactions to her after the episode. She said, “A lot of people I run into through the years mention that show in particular. They say, ‘How could you have done that?’ I say, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know how I did it.’ I didn’t feel happy about it.”

Betty Lynn passed recently at the age of 95. She lived in Mount Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith’s hometown. There, she was always happy to sign autographs or chat with fans of the show. She participated in Mayberry Days festivals and met with fans at the Andy Griffith Museum. According to Ron Howard, she had a “positive spirit and energy,” and her impact in the community was surely felt.