The one and only Don Knotts, the beloved Barney Fife of The Andy Griffith Show, was on his deathbed in February 2006, when his daughter, Karen, felt the need to run out of the room… so she could laugh. As horrific as that might sound, anyone who knew Don wouldn’t be the least bit offended to hear that response.

“Here’s the thing about my dad,” says Karen in an exclusive interview. “He had this funniness that was just completely, insanely natural. When he was dying, he was making us laugh in hysterics. He was literally dying, but he did something or said something that caused my stepmother and I to go into fits of laughter, which is why I ran out. I thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to be standing there in front of this man, my dearly beloved father, who’s dying, and laughing. I was telling this story to Howard Storm, who’s a director, and he said, ‘You should have stayed and laughed out loud. That’s what comedians live for!’ He was right; I should have just stood there and blasted out laughing.

“Being funny,” she adds, “was just something so natural. It was a gene or….well, I don’t know what it was, except that it was just an out of control natural funniness.”

Please scroll down for the rest of Karen Knotts’ reflections on her father.

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