Fans of the The Andy Griffith Show know actor Don Knotts’ lovable and goofy deputy character Barney Fife well. However, they likely don’t know as much about Knotts’ personal life, including the fact that his daughter followed in his comedic footsteps.
Knotts was married three times in his life, but only had children with his first wife, Kathryn Metz. Knotts and Metz’s marriage lasted from 1947 until 1964. Although their relationship ended in divorce, the couple shared two kids together. Their youngest was a son named Thomas Knotts. In addition, the couple’s first child, a daughter named Karen Knotts, also became an actor and comedian like her father.
Karen grew up and pursued acting and comedy just like her famous dad. However, early on in her life, Karen didn’t see her father very often. Knotts had a grueling work schedule during his acting career, and frequently brought his work home with him. When The Andy Griffith Show debuted in 1960, Karen was only 6 years old and didn’t see her father much. She spoke in depth about her childhood and growing up with a famous dad during a July 2020 interview with Closer Weekly.
“We didn’t see him a lot, because he worked 10, 12 hours a day,” Karen Knotts revealed to CW. “And when he was home, he was always holed up in his room working on his lines and stuff like that.”
At an early age, Karen knew she wanted to become an actor. She remembers trying to help Knotts with some of his lines during her youth.
“At the time I already knew I wanted to act. So I would try to act it out and he’d say, ‘No, no, no. Just give me the lines straight, no inflection, nothing, otherwise you throw me off.’ I was just a part of that process,” she recalled.
Don Knotts’ Daughter Followed in His Comedic Footsteps
Although Don Knotts stayed busy with his career, he did bring Karen and Thomas on set multiple times. His daughter remembers her fascination with television and movie sets. What struck her is how fake they looked in person, but that Hollywood magic could make viewers see them as real.
“Watching the show, you get so involved in it that everything seems real,” Karen explained to CW. “I just remember walking around the set and being amazed at how not real it was.”
She got to know Ron Howard who played young Opie while on set of The Andy Griffith Show. The two were around the same age, but she says Howard was mature beyond his years.
“Ron wasn’t like a kid at all,” Karen remembers of their time together on set. “Not like any kid I knew. He just had this poise and this maturity about him. I remember him showing me a little transistor radio that could fit in your hand, which in those days was unheard of. I hadn’t seen anything like that. It was gold in color, and I guess was a precursor to him becoming a director.”
Her time on TV and movie sets are one of the motivating factors in her own acting career. Growing up in that environment around her father made a huge impact on Karen. Additionally, she even created a one-woman show called Tied Up in Knotts, which tells her dad’s story. Karen has performed the show for the last decade.
“I act as characters, I tell stories sometimes as a character, sometimes as my dad in his natural delivery. Sometimes I even act out Barney Fife,” Karen says about Tied Up in Knotts. “By the end of it, I actually manage to get through his whole life in 90 minutes, which is a miracle. The biggest compliment to me is when people say, ‘I feel like I really know your dad now.’”