The Death of Don Knotts

DonKnotts
July 21, 1924 – February 24, 2006″Itook a lot of Barney into films like theShakiest Gun in the West and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. I have no regrets aboutthe effect that character had on me.”

byKevin and me

Don Knotts was certainly aunique character.Whether you liked him as Barney Fife, from the Andy Griffith Show, or asMr. Furley with the worst toupé ever ever ever on Threes Company, he was great. Like many TV starsof the Sixties (such as Don Adams or Bob Denver), he was typecast, and heembraced it. Don did movies as well, including The Incredible Mr. Limpet,The AppleDumpling Gang, and later on, a magical role in Pleasantville,with Leo’s boyfriend Tobey and Reese. My (Scott) personal favorite was TheGhost and Mr. Chicken.  

It’s very funny, it’s very him, and honestly,parts of it were very scary, helped immensely by Vic Mizzy’s spooky organmusic.

Don (born Jesse) had a turbulentchildhood.  His father suffered from hysterical blindness, twice threatenedhis mother with a knife, and seldom left his bed because of depression. His three brothers constantly drank and fought, and one died from an asthmaattack while Don was still a teen.  A lot of times people that come from f*ckedup homes become entertainers, have you noticed?  Thanks Jayne, for theinfo.

Don, a former smoker, was apparently sufferingfrom lung cancer, and cancelled a public appearance in his hometown ofMorgantown, West Virginia lastyear due to illness. Towards the end of his life, Don was living with theage-related eye disease, macular degeneration (like Stephen King is now).

Don and Mrs. Knotts, FranceyYarborough, lived together in a fourthfloor condo in West Los Angeles.  

Just walk up tothedoor, and ring the bell.  

Thanks Steve, for that tip.

On Friday, February 24,2006, at 11:00 p.m., he died at UCLA,(corrected from an earlier report that it was Cedars.  Reuters reported itincorrectly, thus so did I) from complications of lung cancer. 

His (38 year old) third wife (of two years) was at his side. Andy Griffith had visited him earlier that day,hours before he died. According to Andy, “I was with him just before hedied.  He was kind of unconscious.  I don’t know that he could hearme, but we all believe he heard my voice.  I told him I loved him.” According to one “close” source, Don and his wife had been togetherfor twenty years.

He was 81 years old.

When Knotts’ death wasannounced, Andy Griffithissued this statement: “Don was a small man …but everything else about him was large: his mind, his expressions. Don wasspecial. There’s nobody like him. I loved him very much. We had a long andwonderful life together.”  Of course, Johnny Grant sent flowers that gracedDon’s staron the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

On a Monday afternoon, Don was buried ina $36,000 grave near Eva Gabor in WestwoodMemorial Park, in Los Angeles.

 I have no funeral details, and they hauled out that old chestnut about a publicmemorial that we won’t be privy to.

Trivia:

He won five Emmys for his role asBarney Fife.

He died on the same day as DennisWeaver, and the day before Darren McGavin. Bad week for Sixties maleTV starswith names that start with D.

He started out as a ventriloquist (eek) and amagician.

Checkout this great tribute website, HERE.

Checkout this great website about The Andy Griffith Show, HERE.

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