Don Knotts and Andy Griffith were one of those iconic duos that did seemingly every project together. Their work on The Andy Griffith Show was incredible. Then they made Matlock, a wildly successful TV show as well. The two will forever be linked together.
When The Andy Griffith Show was without Don Knotts after Season 5, the show felt a little empty. The chemistry between him and Andy was incredible. There was nothing like it on television then, nor has there been anything quite like it since.
The two were always making each other better and became excellent friends. Over the course of their careers, they overlapped a lot. This meant the ability to tell each other what they needed was unparalleled. So, when the 50th anniversary of the show rolled around, they sat down together.
Don Knotts, Andy Griffith, and Ron Howard facilitated a conversation about The Andy Griffith Show. During the ‘Return to Mayberry’ special from 2003, Knotts and Griffith talk about their comedic timing.
“Originally, I was supposed to be funny,” Andy Griffith explained. “By the second, I knew that he (pointing at Don Knotts) should be funny and I should play straight to him.”
Don Knotts then chimed in, “But we seemed to fall right in together with the timing. We seemed to like each other’s timing. It just happened.”
“When I didn’t set him up quite right,” Andy Griffith detailed. “He would say, ‘you wanna just come in a little earlier there Andy?'” At which all three of The Andy Griffith Show stars burst out laughing.
Don Knotts’ and Andy Griffith’s Friendship Was Strong Even Before “The Andy Griffith Show”
Knotts and Griffith’s friendship dated a ways back before the two joined forces on The Andy Griffith Show. Before the two worked diligently to make sure Mayberry was a safe place to live, they worked on Broadway together.
“No Time For Sergeants” first hit Broadway in 1955 and featured both actors. Griffith played Will Stockdale, and Knotts played Corporal Manual Dexterity. After Broadway, the show went into production for a feature-length film. That movie was released in 1958.
Consequently, when Griffith was putting together the cast for The Andy Griffith Show, he thought of Knotts. It was a match made in heaven. Their relationship before the TV show was strong and landed Knotts on the show.
Griffith knew that Knotts could be the perfect, twitchy character that he wanted out of his deputy. So, Knotts devoted much of his time to make sure his character would be ready for The Andy Griffith Show.
Once on the iconic show, their relationship blossomed. Their back in forth in discussing comedic timing is a perfect example of how excellent their chemistry was.