It’s no surprise to learn that his peers in the television industry truly respected Don Knotts and his work on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Knotts collected five Emmy Awards for his portrayal as Detective Barney Fife on the hit CBS comedy. He took home Emmys in 1961, 1962, 1963, 1966, and 1967. Knotts was a part of the comedy troupe on “The Steve Allen Show” prior to playing Fife.
He took home “Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor or Actress in a Series” honors in 1961. For the 1962-63 Emmys, Knotts won in the “Outstanding Performance In a Supporting Role By An Actor” category. The “Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Comedy” accolades went to him in 1966-67.
Don Knotts Was Top Foil On ‘The Andy Griffith Show’
Knotts’ Fife proved to be the perfect foil for Andy Griffith’s Sheriff Andy Taylor role. Their on-screen chemistry proved to be memorable during the show’s original run. In syndication, Knotts and Griffith have secured their place in television history.
You might recall that Knotts was a regular cast member for five seasons on “The Andy Griffith Show.” He believed Griffith was going to stop the show after five seasons, so Knotts found himself signing a movie deal with Universal Pictures.
Yet Griffith decided to move ahead with the series and Knotts couldn’t get out of his movie contract. So he made guest appearances on “The Andy Griffith Show” in 1966 and 1967, reprising his Fife role. Knotts wasn’t always in his deputy uniform, though, as he’d now moved on to take a position in the Mount Pilot police department.
Don Knotts died in 2006 and Andy Griffith died in 2012.
Jack Burns’ Time On Show Was Just 11 Episodes Long
Losing Knotts was a blow to the show. Griffith and the show’s producers tried to replace him with comedian Jack Burns, who played Warren. Burns was a really good stand-up comic who became one-half of the comedy team Burns and Schrieber with fellow comic Avery Schreiber.
But Burns’s stay on “The Andy Griffith Show” was short-lived. After just 11 episodes, Burns was let out of his contract and released in December 1965. Show fans and Griffith just couldn’t buy into Burns and his role.
“I can’t begin to explain how uncomfortable we were,” Griffith wrote in his book, “Andy and Don.” “I get strung out easily, and if I’m uncomfortable I’m hell to be around, and I was very uncomfortable.”
Jack Burns died in 2020.
Upon Burns’ dismissal, no one else attempted to fill the shoes of Don Knotts. Other character actors played additional roles, yet none of them had ties to Barney Fife.