‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Griffith Told Don Knotts He Was ‘Awful’ on ‘Three’s Company’

by Joe Rutland
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Put down “The Andy Griffith Show” star Andy Griffith as not a fan of Don Knotts’ work on the ABC sitcom “Three’s Company.”

“I thought Don, for instance, was awful on ‘Three’s Company’,” Griffith said in an interview for the Archive of American Television. “I told him when he came into ‘Matlock.’ I said, ‘Don, bring it down, bring it down. You were on ‘Three’s Company’ too long.’ Because he was performing the same way with those big, huge takes and everything.”

Griffith, who would play Sheriff Andy Taylor for eight seasons on “The Andy Griffith Show,” also played defense attorney Ben Matlock on “Matlock” for nine seasons.

Knotts famously played Deputy Barney Fife for five seasons on the CBS sitcom. He would have stayed longer but Griffith had said he was just planning to do five seasons of the sitcom. Knotts started going out and looking for other work, leading him to a film contract with Universal Pictures.

But Griffith changed his mind after Knotts already signed the contract, so he was obliged to do movies. Some of those Universal films include “The Reluctant Astronaut” and “The Shakiest Gun in the West.”

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star Didn’t Watch Many Sitcoms Back In 1998

What’s also interesting to note is Griffith’s dismissal of situation comedies when he was interviewed in 2012.

“I hardly watch any situation comedies now,” Griffith said. “I watch ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘The Golden Girls’…that’s about it.” When asked why he doesn’t watch others, he quickly said, “I don’t think it’s funny. Blah. Most of the comedies [are] done in front of an audience.”

“The Andy Griffith Show” has become one of classic TV’s mainstays for decades. Griffith died on July 3, 2012, at 86 years old. He made TV, stage, and film appearances prior to his Taylor portrayal.

On TV, Griffith would show up on variety shows like “The Ed Sullivan Show” and do a monologue. On stage and later on film, he played Will Stockdale in “No Time for Sergeants.”

Griffith managed to gain national notoriety for his stand-up routine, “What It Was, Was Football.” In the bit, he plays a man who has never seen a football game in his life. But once a man named Richard O. Linke heard it on a Southern radio station, the record went from being on a small label to Capitol Records. Linke bought the rights to the record for $10,000 and signed on to be Griffith’s agent for $300 per week.

Both of them also received royalties from the sales and, thanks to big-label Capitol’s backing, “What It Was, Was Football” sold more copies than before. Andy Griffith became a big name and, well, the rest is history.

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