Don Knotts and Andy Griffith worked together before their pairing on “The Andy Griffith Show.” Once Knotts left, he reached out for help.
Let’s set the scene up a bit. Knotts, who played Deputy Barney Fife, thought Griffith was going to end the show after five seasons. Knotts signed a picture deal with Universal Pictures. They previously had worked together on Broadway.
When Griffith decided to keep going with “The Andy Griffith Show,” Knotts could not get out of his deal.
So he moved forward with his first film project called “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.” In getting the pieces together, one thing Knotts needed was someone who could form a solid story and script. Who could do this as a rather quiet favor to him? Griffith himself, according to an article on MEtv.com.
Knotts Receives Helping Hand From Star Of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’
“Remembering what a good story constructionist Andy Griffith is, I called Andy and asked if he would consider helping us put this story together,” Knotts said in an interview. “He said he’d be happy to.”
Griffith did help Knotts out in an uncredited way. “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken,” which debuted in 1966, set Knotts up for a run of success in films with Universal Studios.
Among Knotts’ other Universal films were “The Reluctant Astronaut,” “The Shakiest Gun In The West,” and “The Love God?”. Knotts also would appear in some Disney movies with Tim Conway, including “The Apple Dumpling Gang.”
Knotts did make random appearances on “The Andy Griffith Show” after leaving as a cast regular. The storyline had Fife now a member of the Mount Pilot Police Department. But he returned to Mayberry when Griffith needed help on a case.
Griffith, Knotts Had Working Relationship Going Back To Broadway
Before they worked together to clean up Mayberry’s crime scene, Andy Griffith and Don Knotts spent some time on Broadway.
Griffith played Will Stockdale in “No Time For Sergeants,” a role which he would reprise in the film version. Knotts played Corporal Manual Dexterity in both the Broadway and film versions. The play first hit Broadway in 1955. The movie version was released in 1958.
When Griffith started putting together the cast for his TV show, he remembered Knotts. One other character Knotts created was a rather nervous, twitchy fellow who would be interviewed by talk-show host Steve Allen. Knotts was part of Allen’s comedic group on “The Steve Allen Show.”
This type of nervous character and his energy would be advantageous when Knotts started working on creating Fife. It proved to be an endearing trait for the deputy who always carried one bullet in his shirt pocket.