When you look back at different Classic TV shows featuring comedy duos, you're often left wondering what it is that brings these two characters together. And that's certainly the case with Andy Griffith's Sheriff Andy Taylor and Don Knotts' Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show. These two couldn't be more different from each other, yet there's something about that combination that kept people tuning in week after week back when the show originally ran in the 1960s, and even years after in reruns.
Andy is the straight man, a folksy fellow serving the good people of Mayberry who pretty much always knows how to handle a situation, and generally keeps his cool. Barney, on the other hand, has tremendous delusions of grandeur, is filled with over-reactions, a false swagger, and often causes many of the comic mishaps that unfold on the show. Yet somehow these two men, fast friends off camera, made that relationship real and allowed us to believe in them as people, not cartoons. But the truth is, Don's contributions to the show, and many of his other projects, including, many years later, Three's Company, can't be underestimated. He brought a comic energy that simply touched his costars and the audience in almost anything he did.
Born Jesse Donald Knotts on July 21, 1924, in Morgantown, West Virginia, Don somehow managed to survive an extremely unhappy and unhealthy (both physically and emotionally) childhood, and was filled with a determination to make others laugh. Needless to say, he accomplished that, and what follows is a look back at his life and career, from his early acting days, his TV success, to making movies.