Actor Don Knotts famously played the enthusiastic but inept deputy Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show.” And while he was thrilled to get the part, he had one major complaint over his five seasons on the show.
Knotts told author Richard Kelly, who penned the book The Andy Griffith Show, that this one problem ultimately forced him to go to the set propmaster, according to Showbiz Cheat Sheet.
Don Knotts Airs His Major Complaint
“My only complaint about the whole show was that I would [tire out] from the physical workouts,” Knotts said. “I would get irritable by the end of the day, even though I was having a hell of a good time.”
So Knotts told the propmaster, Reggie Smith, “Hey Reggie. Come here. I want a chair with my name on it.”
Smith hesitated to get Knotts a seat. He told Knotts that they just didn’t do that on the show’s set.
“This subject had never come up before and we were in our third year,” Knotts said. “I’m thinking, ‘I’m out of line here, because the star hasn’t asked for this and I have.’”
But Knotts dug his heels in and demanded a chair. He said, “We’re going to do it now…I’d like to have a chair by tomorrow, with my name on it. That’s where I’m going to sit from now on.”
Surprising Words of Support
To his surprise, Knotts then realized that Andy Griffith had been standing there behind him throughout the whole conversation – “and it really delighted him,” Knotts said.
“Reg, I want one, too,” Griffith told Smith.
So both actors got their chairs. And they soon found out that everyone on set, from fellow actors to show producers, wanted chairs to sit in.
“The Andy Griffith Show” aired a total of 249 episodes over the course of eight seasons. As his profile rose, Knotts left after the fifth season to pursue a movie career.
According to IMDB, after Knotts left, producers considered Jerry Van Dyke for the role of the deputy. Van Dyke passed to star in “My Mother the Car.” But later on, he said he should have taken the deputy role instead.
As for Knotts, he got on the show by reaching out to Andy Griffith and telling Griffith that his sheriff might have use for a deputy. Griffith reportedly replied, “Lord! Call [producer] Sheldon Leonard.”
Leonard met with Knotts, then left Knotts hanging for three weeks, before ultimately deciding to give him the role. And the rest is television history.