Don Knotts continues to be a popular name for his work as Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Although sitcom lovers are familiar with his name, there was one nickname that Don Knotts could not stand.
Don Knotts Nickname from Andy Griffith
According to IMDb, he hated his first name, which was Jesse. Andy Griffith had taken on the habit of calling him “Jess” while the two were working on set together. Knotts made the mistake of telling Griffith how much he disliked his first name, and of course, like two pals will do, Griffith called him “Jess” just to mess with him.
Don Knotts was born in Morgantown, West Virginia on July 21, 1924. He won the Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor five different times.
Despite a number of roles throughout his career, Knotts appearance on “The Andy Griffith Show,” remains his landmark role.
Friendship Between Griffith and Knotts
The fun and spunky friendship between sheriff and deputy are partially why the show was so popular. This friendship translated off the screen as the two had worked together starting in the 1950s and then held onto that bond the rest of their lives.
A book called “Andy and Don, The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show” details the kind of relationship the two had. The book is written by Daniel de Visé, the brother-in-law of Knotts.
“Andy and Don were fellow Southerners, born into poverty and raised among ne’er-do-wells, bullies and drunks. They grew up during the Depression, Andy on the wrong side of the tracks in North Carolina, Don in a threadbare West Virginia boardinghouse,” de Visé wrote, according to The Virginian-Pilot.
Andy Griffith’s Upbringing: Inspiration for the Show
Meanwhile, Griffith was born in Mount Airy, North Carolina. It was the inspiration behind Mayberry.
Andy Griffith was actually with Don Knotts in 2006 at his deathbed. He passed away in Los Angeles, California from pulmonary and respiratory complications from pneumonia that were related to his lung cancer.
They first met in the 1955 Broadway production of “No Time for Sergeants.” They reunited in 1960 after Knotts saw Griffith on “The Danny Thomas Show.” This is how “The Andy Griffith Show” came to be.
According to a 1999 interview with the Archive of American Television, Knotts spoke on how Griffith was always lighthearted and laughing.
“His wife used to say to me, ‘Don’t sit in front of Andy at the movies! If something funny hits him, he’ll hit you right on top of the head.’ That’s the way he is; he’ll hit the wall. If I said something funny to Andy, he’d run clear across the sound stage. He’s just very demonstrative. He’s fun to be around.”
He’s likely one of the few people that could have gotten away with calling him “Jess.”