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Former Andy Griffith Show star to be honored

The City of Morgantown will honor former resident Don Knotts with the 1st annual Don Knotts festival (August 12th – August 15th). Plans include a parade, film festival and to screen some of his film and television work.


Jesse Donald Knotts was born on July 21, 1924, in Morgantown, West Virginia and went on to win 5 Emmy awards for his television work. His most popular role was the Deputy Sheriff "Barney Fife" on the Andy Griffith Show during the 1960s. He has also starred in over 40 movies including several with Disney.

Don is the son of William Jesse Knotts (1882-1937) & Elsie L. Moore (1885-1969).

Don is the Grandson of Lewis E. Knotts (1851 - 1921) and Mary Johnson (1856 - 1922).

His parents were farmers, and Knotts was raised "dirt poor" in West Virginia during the Great Depression. In Knotts' childhood, his father became a paranoid schizophrenic and alcoholic, and Knotts has sometimes joked that he drove his father crazy. Beginning in high school, he performed as a ventriloquist, with modest success.

Don said that during his high school days he was "a giggler and always got people in trouble for telling jokes."

July 21, 1924 - February 24, 2006



Interesting facts about Don Knotts


Was a Ventriloquist in his early years from out of High School and his doll was named, Danny.

Enlisted in the United States Army at age 19.

Father of Karen Knotts.

Was a member of the fraternity Phi Delta Theta.

Portrayed Windy Wales on Mutual Radio's "Bobby Benson" (1949-1955).

Technically was an Army Reservist for one week. After being inducted for World War II service on June 14, 1943, was assigned to the Army Enlisted Reserve Corps on inactive duty. Reported for active duty one week later, on the 21st of June, and was transfered to active duty status in the Army of the United States.

Veteran of the Second World War who was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with 4 bronze service stars), Army Good Conduct Medal, Marksman Badge (with Carbine Bar) and Honorable Service Lapel Pin.

Served in the Army of the United States, under the service number 35 756 363, from June 21, 1943 to January 6, 1946. Discharged in the rank of Technician Grade 5, which was the equivalent of a Corporal.

Together with Tom Poston and Louis Nye, he did the recurring "Man on the Street" skits on "The Steve Allen Show" (1956) television program.

Attended and graduated from West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia, with a BA in theater graduated 1948

Don was conceived after his parents had already raised other sons. His father had a nervous breakdown at the prospect of raising another child from birth.

Older brother "Shadow" died of asthma in 1942.

Took an early job plucking chickens for a market when he was told he didn't have a future in acting.

Listen to an early Don Knotts comedy routine