February 16, 2020

Ted Knight's Final Years & Tragic Death of the 'Mary Tyler Moore Show' Star

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Comic actor Ted Knight of the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" had lived a wonderful life. Prior to his untimely death, he had memorable final years as a TV actor.

After being hospitalized, Knight died of cancer in his home in Pacific Palisades at the age of 62, as reported by AP News. He was surrounded by his wife, Dorothy and three children.

His death came as a shock to people who knew him deeply. Knight was a health addict who would stick to fruits and vegetables.

Photo of actor Ted Knight in October 1972. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons



The actor also had plenty of fish and lean meat in his diet. He didn’t smoke and would drink alcohol only lightly.

Knight was a well-decorated TV personality who was adored by his friends and colleagues. He won the Emmys twice in 1973 and 1976.

The awards were for outstanding performance by an actor and supporting role, respectively, in the comedy show "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." The show ran from 1970-1977.

Ted Knight, L-R Jim J. Bullock, Nancy Dussault, Lydia Cornell and Audrey Meadows at Metromedia Television Studios on November 30, 1984 Los Angeles, California. | Photo: Getty Images



Knight became even more famous when he starred on the "Too Close for Comfort" show as Ted Baxter. He also worked with equally talented actors such as Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield in the 1980 movie, "Caddy Shack."

Grant Tinker, head of the MTM Enterprise, said he loved Knight's characters as Ted Knight himself and Ted Baxter in another show. "I loved them both. They gave so many of us so many great laughs," Tinker said, as reported by AP News. 

His daughter, Elyse Knight, said her father would often tell them about his beloved hometown where he grew up.


Nancy Dussault and Ted Knight at Seventh Annual People's Choice Awards on March 5, 1981 at Desilu TV Studios in Los Angeles, California. | Photo: Getty Images


Knight was born on December 7, 1923, in Terryville, Plymouth in Connecticut. His real name was Tadeus Wladyslaw Konopka and was called “sausage” because of his polish blood.


He dropped out of high school and entered the army. He was among the first American troopers who penetrated Berlin in Germany.

His acting career started in the late 1940s. Knight studied acting in Randall School of Dramatic Arts in Hartford, Connecticut where he performed in several production shows, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. 

Photo of Georgia Engel and Ted Knight from the television program "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," in 1975. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons


Knight was loved by his friends and family back in Plymouth. The town council renamed the Canal Street Bridge after the actor, and the ceremony was witnessed by his family.

His daughter, Elyse Knight, said her father would often tell them about his beloved hometown where he grew up. The actor is also remembered as a generous man. 

Photo of Ted Knight and Mary Tyler Moore from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," in 1977. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons


Reverend Stephen Ptaszynski, pastor of St. Casimir's Church, was a testament to the late actor’s generosity. He recalled that Knight donated money to the church when church funds were low, as reported by Waterbury Republican

The late actor appeared in about 300 television series. After leaving the “Mary Tyler Moore Show,” he reinvented himself with one self-titled comedy show, "Ted Knight Show," and later with "Too Close for Comfort."