Remember the images: There’s cocky Barney, hitching up his belt, jutting out his lower lip and cocking his head, taking on the role of crimefighter. And there’s Andy, rescuing Barney from the bad guys or from himself — after he had locked himself in a cell. There’s high-strung Barney, the scrawny deputy agitatedly rousting law-abiding citizens as real criminals carry on their business right under his nose.
Don Knotts (1924-2006), television and movie actor, is best known for his roles as ‘Deputy Barney Fife’ in the 1960s television series the “Andy Griffith Show,” and as landlord ‘Ralph Furley’ from the late 1970s television situation comedy series “Three’s Company.”
He was born in February in Morgantown, WV, where his parents and relatives were farmers. He was the youngest of four boys in a family he described as “dirt poor.” Knotts said, “It was the 1930s, and those were tough times for all of us, but we had such humor in our family — except for my father. He was pretty sick. He had a nervous breakdown about the time I was born — maybe I did it — but all my brothers were very funny, and my mother loved to laugh.”
Jesse Donald Knotts graduated from Morgantown High School in 1942. The 1942 school yearbook lists him as Donald Jesse Knotts. He attended West Virginia University, where he majored in speech, hoping to become a teacher. A street in Morgantown has been renamed Don Knotts Boulevard.
Mayberry is where anybody who appreciates that small town love and friendship would like to live. Mayberry is a friendly town where everybody knows everybody and would do anything to help you out anytime you needed them. Don Knotts helped give us Mayberry.