July 21, 1924: Actor Don Knotts Born in Morgantown

Jul 21, 2017

Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On July 21, 1924, actor Don Knotts was born in Morgantown, where his mother ran a boarding house. During World War II, he honed his comedic skills entertaining troops in the Army.

After the war, Knotts returned to Morgantown and earned a drama degree from West Virginia University. He first came to national attention with a role on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow and then got his big break in the Broadway play No Time for Sergeants, stealing scenes opposite Andy Griffith. At the same time, Knotts was becoming a household name for his comedic turns on Steve Allen’s TV variety show.

In 1960, Knotts got the role that would immortalize him as a TV legend. For five seasons, he portrayed the nervous deputy Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show. He won five Emmy awards before leaving the show in 1965 to do feature films. He won three more Emmys for guest spots on Andy Griffith after leaving the show.

Knotts returned to television in the late ’70s, portraying a meddling landlord on Three’s Company. He died in Los Angeles in 2006 at age 81.