It’s impossible not to fall in love with the characters of “The Andy Griffith Show.” The small-town mannerisms of Deputy Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts and Sheriff Andy Taylor, played by Andy Griffith, made fans eager to watch every night. Long after the show ended, the two stars remained good friends off-camera.
Fans can attribute the hilarious and heartwarming chemistry between Don Knotts and Andy Griffith to how they got along so well behind the scenes. Even when they weren’t acting, they were real-life best friends. For instance, their friendship was evident during a particular clip from 1965.
During the CBS special “Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, and Jim Nabors Show,” Knotts hilariously can’t remember President Lincoln’s famous historical speech: The Gettysburg Address. The hilarity that ensues in the clip showcases the chemistry between the late actors.
Before the address, the sketch opens with Andy Griffith and Don Knotts playing their characters from “The Andy Griffith Show.” They perform a song entitled “Friendship,” initially written by Cole Porter in 1939. Judy Garland also recorded the song. The actors perform on a reconstructed version of a Mayberry courtroom.
Andy Griffith & Don Knotts: Friends Both on and off the Camera
Knotts and Griffith became fast friends in 1955 before they had their hit TV show. Together they starred in a Broadway play called No Time for Sergeants. After that, they continued their friendship as they entered the Hollywood scene as actors.
“They were two Southern guys alone in Manhattan, so they were drawn to each other instantly,” Daniel de Visé, Knotts’ former brother-in-law, told Closer Weekly in 2019.
The CBS special was a historic moment for both the fans and the friends. Fans had not seen Knotts and Griffith together since Knotts left the series in early 1965 at the end of the fifth season. However, this wouldn’t be the last time fans would see Don Knotts in Mayberry.
After the CBS special debuted, Knotts reprised his role as Deputy Barney Fife for a guest appearance on “The Andy Griffith Show” just three months later for the episode appropriately titled “The Return of Barney Fife.” Knotts had a total of five cameos on the show and won a further two Emmys for his role.
After Knotts’ departure, the show hired a replacement deputy named Warren Ferguson when the sitcom returned for a sixth season. Fellow comedian Jack Burns took on the role, yet no one could replace the original goofy, fun-loving character played by Knotts.