‘The Andy Griffith Show’: How Don Knotts Was ‘Not Barney Fife’ as a Dad, According to His Daughter

Don Knotts was one of the funniest men on television. At times, it seemed like his face was made of rubber. Additionally, his comedic timing helped The Andy Griffith Show truly shine. In fact, Andy Griffith once said that it was Knotts who really brought the show together. Deputy Fife allowed Andy to play the straight man and it made a world of difference. Without Knotts’ contribution to the show, Andy probably would have turned in his badge and gun after a season or two.

Don’s daughter, Karen Knotts recently wrote a book about her father. In Tied up in Knotts: My Dad and Me, she told the world what it was like to have the iconic comedian and actor as a father. Recently, she sat down with Fox News to talk about the book as well as what it was like to grow up with Don as a dad. At one point, she told the publication that her father left Barney Fife in Mayberry at the end of the day.

Don Knotts the Father

Fox News wanted to know, “What was Don Knotts like as a dad?” Karen cleared the air quickly. “He was not Barney Fife,” she said. However, that does not mean there was a lack of laughter in the Knotts household. “That was a great, funny character. But, my father was witty and funny all on his own.”

Overall, though, she said that Don Knotts was “…a good father. He wasn’t a tough father at all, but he had high standards for us.” However, it wasn’t all laughs when she was growing up. “Like anyone else,” she said, “he had his moods.”

Don Knotts’ “moods” could be chalked up to depression. Like many of the funniest comedians, he suffered from the condition after living a hard life. As a child, Karen Knotts did the best she could to help keep her dad’s spirits high. “He had depression that I had to talk him through sometimes.” Then, she talked about his childhood.

Learning more about Don Knotts’ upbringing reveals why he had such high standards for his children. It seems that he really wanted his kids to live a better life and better provide for their future families. Karen said, “…he had a really difficult childhood. He came from an alcoholic older brother and a paranoid schizophrenic father.” That was only the beginning, though. She went on to say, “He was living in extreme poverty during the Depression.”

Summing up one aspect of her relationship with Don Knotts, Karen said, “I become like a mini-shrink – I would try to motivate him not to feel so depressed, to feel more positive about things.”

Don Knotts tragically passed away on February 24th, 2006 after a battle with lung cancer.

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