Comedian Don Knotts created unforgettable characters

Published 9:56 pm Monday, February 27, 2006

By Staff
Not only did I enjoy Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show” (1960-68), for which he won five Emmys, I even loved his 1960s family fare film work.
Before “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” mixed live action and animation, there was 1964's “The Incredible Mr. Limpet,” a meek man with the physique of a cartoon character who turned into a fish. Knotts followed that with “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” in 1966, “The Reluctant Astronaut” in 1967 and “The Shakiest Gun in the West” in 1968.
The nervous, bug-eyed Knotts died Feb. 24 of lung cancer at a Los Angeles hospital. He was 81.
In 2005 Knotts guest-starred on Fox's “That '70s Show.”
Knotts honed his nervous man routine with Louis Nye and others on “The Steve Allen Show,” which was a bit before my time. I was never a fan of ABC's jiggle juggernaut “Three's Company,” but Knotts in an ascot as Ralph Furley, a middle-aged landlord who fancied himself a swinger, was as funny in its own way as the bumbling deputy who kept his lone bullet safely in his shirt pocket while he deluded himself into thinking he was competent and sophisticated instead of just well-meaning.
When Andy debuted in October 1960, Knotts, who was not in the pilot and was intended to merely be part of an ensemble worthy of Bob Newhart, stole the show. Sheriff Taylor became his straight man and rescuer.
It stayed in TV's top 10 for its entire eight-year run.
Quips, quotes and qulunkers: “I'm surprised Dick Cheney loves to hunt so much. The five times the government tried to give him a gun, he got a deferment.”
Institution scholar