In addition to his role as Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show,” Knotts also famously played the landlord on the 1970s sitcom “Three’s Company.” The actor died in February of 2006 of lung cancer. He was 81.
Watch a clip from Knotts’ “That ’70s Show” appearance here:
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Stars Had a Collegial Relationship
It was in the Broadway hit “No Time for Sergeants” that Knotts first met Andy Griffith. The two became lifelong friends and costars, with Griffith dragging Knotts along with him on many of his projects.
In fact, Griffith was always there for Knotts, even after “The Andy Griffith Show” ended, Knotts’ daughter Karen Knotts told Closer Weekly last year.
“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,” Karen said. “He was his biggest fan and mentor. Everything later he was in, he wanted to get my dad in, too. Even when he was on ‘Matlock,’ and my dad wasn’t working at the time, he went to the producers and said, ‘I want Don Knotts on the show.’”
The producers balked, because “Matlock” was a drama and Knotts was a comedian. Griffith pushed and pushed, and finally they included Knotts. But they didn’t want to pay him much.
“Andy went to the mat and fought with them on that,” Karen recalled. “They gave him not really what he should have gotten, but at least a decent salary. Everything from the day he met them, he was in my dad’s corner.”
Knotts Also Carved Out His Own Career
But Knotts also forged his own path. After “The Andy Griffith Show,” he appeared on “Three’s Company” and in Disney films including “The Apple Dumpling Gang” and “No Deposit, No Return.” In the last years of his life, he voiced the Turkey Mayor in the animated movie “Chicken Little” and made guest appearances on the TV shows “Las Vegas” and “That ’70s Show.”
Knotts married three times. Two of those ended in divorce, the Los Angeles Times reported. He had two children, Karen and Thomas, who survive him.
As Griffith noted in the foreword to Knotts’ 2000 memoir, “Barney Fife and Other Characters I Have Known,” Knotts was, unlike Fife, a sharp and very self-contained man. He spent the latter years of his life in West Los Angeles before dying at UCLA Medical Center. Griffith was one of his last visitors.