‘The Andy Griffith Show’: How Serving in the Army Helped ‘Solidify’ Don Knotts’ Love for Entertaining

by Clayton Edwards
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Today, most people know Don Knotts for his time on The Andy Griffith Show and movies like The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. However, before that, he served in the US Army. While serving, Knotts entertained his fellow troops at comedy shows. At that time, he wasn’t the comedian we all know and love today. Instead, he performed a ventriloquist act that he had been practicing for years. Then, he got the chance to be part of a few comedy sketches and quickly decided to ditch the dummy and start a new path.  According to his daughter Karen that’s when the future Barney Fife knew what he wanted to do with his life.

Karen Knotts recently wrote the book, Tied Up In Knotts: My Dad and Me, about growing up with Don Knotts. Recently, she sat down with Fox News to talk about the book and her father. At one point during the interview, she discussed how his time in the military set his feet on the path that led him to stardom.

Fox News wanted to know “Before fame, he served in the army. How did that experience help him find his love of entertaining?”

Karen Knotts clarified saying that Don “had that love since he was five years old.” Then, she went on to talk about the role the Army played in his life. “What the army did was solidify it for him.” Karen said that her father got into the army show as a ventriloquist and helped put on comedy sketches. She added that comedians who made guest performances could all see how funny he was. Before long, he got tired of ventriloquism. So, he asked his sergeant if he could put the dummy away and just do comedy.

They told Don Knotts he had to stick to the ventriloquist act. Knotts was a step ahead, though. Karen explained, “He mysteriously lost the dummy. But, what were they going to do send him back home because he lost that dummy? They were stuck with him.” Then Karen said, “He ended up being the star, not the dummy.”

So, What Happened To Don Knotts’ Dummy?

Don Knotts started performing with the dummy, whose name was Danny, in junior high. So, by the time he got to the army, he was good at what he did. However, when they wouldn’t let him skip the ventriloquist act, Don knew he had to make a drastic move.

By that time, he was “second banana” to the show’s star comedian and he loved it. In an interview, he said, “I liked doing that better than the ventriloquism. But, they kept saying, we need you to do the ventriloquist act. So, one night I left Danny on a beach when we left and reported him missing in action.”

Outsider.com