Donald Knotts (1924 - 2006)

Jesse Donald Knotts
1924 - 2006
updated February 06, 2019
Donald Knotts was born in 1924. He died on February 24, 2006 at 82 years old.

Don Knotts
Born July 21, 1924 in Morgantown, West Virginia, USA
Died February 24, 2006 in Los Angeles, California, USA (pulmonary and respiratory complications)
Don Knotts, the legendary television character actor, was born Jesse Donald Knotts on July 21, 1924 in Morgantown, West Virginia, to William Jesse Knotts and the former Elsie L. Moore. He was the youngest of four sons in a family that had been in America since the 17th century.
His first stint as an entertainer was as a ventriloquist, performing paid gigs at parties and other events in Morgantown. He decided to make a stab at a career in show business, moving to New York City after graduating from high school, but he only lasted in the Big Apple for a few weeks. He decided to go to college, enrolling at West Virginia University but, when World War II engulfed America, he enlisted in the United States Army. The 19-year-old soldier was assigned to the Special Services Branch, where he entertained the troops. It was while in the Army that Don ditched ventriloquism for straight comedy.
Don returned to West Virginia University after being demobilized. After graduating with a degree in theater in 1948, he married and moved back to New York, where connections he had made while in the Special Services Branch helped him break into show business. In addition to doing stand-up comedy at clubs, he appeared on the radio, eventually playing the character "Windy Wales" on "The Bobby Benson Show". From 1953 to 1955, he was a regular on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow (1951). Destiny intervened when he was cast in the small role of the psychiatrist in the Broadway play "No Time for Sergeants", which starred Andy Griffith, who would play a large part in Don's future career. Don also appeared in the film adaption of the play with Griffith. Don's big break before he hooked up again with Andy Griffith was a regular gig on the The Steve Allen Plymouth Show (1956) hosted by Steve Allen, starting in 1956. He became well-known for his "nervous man" shtick in the "Man-on-the-Street" segments that were a staple of Allen's show. His character in the segments was a very nervous man obviously uptight about being interviewed on camera. He developed this into the fidgety, high-strung persona that he used successfully for the rest of his career.
When "The Tonight Show" moved to Hollywood in 1959 with new host Jack Paar, Don also moved to California as a regular. However, he was soon cast in Andy Griffith's new television series about a small-town sheriff, The Andy Griffith Show (1960), in the role that would make him a legend. For playing "Deputy Barney Fife", Don was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor five times from 1961 to 1967, winning each time.
He soon tasted big-screen success, starring in The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964). Don cut back his appearances on The Andy Griffith Show (1960) to concentrate on making movies after signing a five-year contract with Universal Pictures. For Universal, Don appeared in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966), The Reluctant Astronaut (1967), The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968), The Love God? (1969) and How to Frame a Figg (1971). His mid-1960s popularity as a movie comedian began to wane towards the end of the decade, and the contract was not renewed. Don returned to television as the star of his own variety show, but it was quickly canceled.
During the 1970s, Don had a spotty career, appearing in regional theater and making guest appearances on other television series. He eventually made some slapstick movies with Tim Conway for the Walt Disney Company, but it wasn't until the end of the decade that he tasted real success again. He was cast as would-be-swinger landlord "Ralph Furley" on the popular sitcom Three's Company (1976) after the original landlords, "The Ropers", were spun off into their own series. Since the show was canceled in 1984, he appeared as "Barney Fife" for a 1986 reunion of The Andy Griffith Show (1960) and in television guest spots, including a recurring gig as the pesky neighbor "Les Calhoun" on Griffith's Matlock (1986) series until 1992.
He remained busy for the next ten years touring with plays and doing voice-over work for cartoons. In 2005, Don provided the voice of "Mayor Turkey Lurkey" in Disney's animated film Chicken Little (2005). It turned out to be one of his final films. He died at age 81 on February 24, 2006.
Spouse (3)
Frances Yarborough (2002 - 24 February 2006) ( his death)
Loralee Czuchna (12 October 1974 - 1989) ( divorced)
Kathryn Elaine Metz (27 December 1947 - 17 March 1966) ( divorced) ( 2 children)
Was a ventriloquist in his early years from out of high school and his doll was named Danny.
Enlisted in the United States Army at age 19.
Father of Karen Knotts and Thomas Knotts. Cousin of Jodi Knotts. He was a member of Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity.
Had portrayed Windy Wales on Mutual Radio's "Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B Riders" (1949-1955).
Technically was an Army Reservist for one week. After being inducted for World War II service on June 14, 1943, was assigned to the Army Enlisted Reserve Corps on inactive duty. Reported for active duty one week later, on June 21, and was transferred to active duty status in the United States Army.
Veteran of the Second World War who was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with 4 bronze service stars), Army Good Conduct Medal, Marksman Badge (with Carbine Bar) and Honorable Service Lapel Pin.
Served in the United States Army, under the service number "35 756 363", from June 21, 1943 to January 6, 1946. Discharged in the rank of Technician Grade 5, which was the equivalent of a Corporal.
Together with Tom Poston and Louis Nye, he did the recurring "Man on the Street" skits on The Steve Allen Plymouth Show (1956).
Received his Bachelor's degree in Education from West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia in 1948.
Took an early job plucking chickens for a market when he was told he didn't have a future in acting.
Buried among the stars at the beautiful and prestigious Westwood Memorial Park. 1218 Glendon Avenue, Los Angeles, California.
Died on the same day and at the same age as Dennis Weaver.
Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Actors' Branch).
Don ceased to be a regular on The Andy Griffith Show (1960) after 1965 because originally, the show's producers had intended to end the series after that year, still at a creative and popular peak. Knotts had already signed a multi-picture deal with Universal Studios when Griffith relented to network pressure and kept his show on the air for several more years. Don said later that he deeply regretted having to leave the show, but his film commitments prevented him from continuing as a cast regular.
Received a special tribute as part of the Annual Memorial tribute at The 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007).
His last television role was a guest appearance on the animated series Dave the Barbarian (2004).
He was nominated for a 1973 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Guest Artist for his performance in the play, "The Mind with the Dirty Man", at the Arlington Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7083 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on January 19, 2000.
In the 2003 Mayberry reunion, Knotts said, referring to their child co-star, we call him Mr. Howard now.
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Donald Knotts died on February 24, 2006 at 82 years old. He was born in 1924. We are unaware of information about Jesse's surviving family.
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In 1924, in the year that Donald Knotts was born, J. Edgar Hoover, at the age of 29, was appointed the sixth director of the Bureau of Investigation by Calvin Coolidge (which later became the Federal Bureau of Investigation). The Bureau had approximately 650 employees, including 441 Special Agents. A former employee of the Justice Department, Hoover accepted his new position on the proviso that the bureau was to be completely divorced from politics and that the director report only to the attorney general.

In 1930, by the time he was only 6 years old, on August 6th, N.Y. Supreme Court Judge Joseph Crater went through papers in his office, destroyed some of them, withdrew all his money from the bank - $5,150, sold his stock, met friends at a restaurant for dinner and disappeared after getting into a taxi (or walking down the street - his friends' testimony later changed). His disappearance was reported to the police on September 3rd - almost a month later. His wife didn't know what happened, his fellow Justices had no idea, and his mistresses (he had several) said that they didn't know. While his disappearance was front page news, his fate was never discovered and after 40 years the case was closed, still without knowing if Crater was dead or alive.

In 1947, he was 23 years old when on November 25th, the Hollywood "Black List" was created by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Ten Hollywood writers and directors had refused to testify to the Committee regarding "Communists" or "Reds" in the movie industry. The next day, the blacklist was created and they were fired.

In 1954, he was 30 years old when from April 22 through June 17th, the Army v. McCarthy hearings were held. The U.S. Army accused Roy Cohn (chief counsel to Senator McCarthy and later trusted mentor of Donald Trump) of blackmail. McCarthy and Cohn accused the U.S. Army of harboring communists. The Army allegations were found to be true. The U.S. Senate later censured McCarthy.

In 1967, when he was 43 years old, on October 2nd, Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as the first black US Supreme Court justice. Marshall was the great-grandson of a slave and graduated first in his class at Howard University Law School. His nomination to the Supreme Court was approved by the Senate, 69 to 11.

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