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Don Knotts Doted on Son & Daughter Who Is Also a Comedian – Andy Griffith Teased His Soft Parenting

Olawale Ogunjimi
Jun 30, 2022
04:20 P.M.
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Don Knotts was a seasoned comedian with many accolades to show for it. In addition to his stellar career, he was a doting dad to two children. Here's a glimpse at the icon's fatherhood, including how he was once teased about his soft parenting.

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American Actor and Comedian Don Knotts will always be remembered as a slender nerd who stole the hearts of television viewers with his comedic spiels.

Many loved the entertainment icon for his quick wits and his notable roles in productions such as "Three's Company," "Mr. Chicken," and "The Ghost."

Don Knotts, US actor, in costume in a studio portrait, against a blue background, issued as publicity for the television series. | Source: Getty Images

Don Knotts, US actor, in costume in a studio portrait, against a blue background, issued as publicity for the television series. | Source: Getty Images

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However, none of Knotts' roles stood out as much as his portrayal of Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife on "The Andy Griffith Show." To date, "The Andy Griffith Show" remains one of television's most classic shows, even though it was first aired in the 1960s.

This has kept Knotts' name fresh in the history books, making him one of the most valued comedians in entertainment.

Although Knotts enjoyed a stellar career in showbiz and will always be remembered for his comedic skills, anyone who has followed his story will know that his life was not all rosy. The actor went through tough times, especially during his childhood.

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American comic actor Don Knotts as deputy sheriff Barney Fife in the TV series 'The Andy Griffith Show', circa 1965. | Source: Getty Images

American comic actor Don Knotts as deputy sheriff Barney Fife in the TV series 'The Andy Griffith Show', circa 1965. | Source: Getty Images

Knotts did not have the best relationship with his parents or siblings growing up. His father was bedridden by the time he was born, battling alcoholism and schizophrenia. Their relationship was so bad that Knotts' father threatened him with a knife on one occasion.

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Unfortunately, the comedian's brothers only made matters worse. One of his brothers, nicknamed Shadow, would often get drunk and torment young Knotts.

Comedian Don Knotts tries to figure out the 1961 Income Tax Return. Los Angeles, CA. Image dated September 15, 1961. | Source: Getty Images

Comedian Don Knotts tries to figure out the 1961 Income Tax Return. Los Angeles, CA. Image dated September 15, 1961. | Source: Getty Images

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The ill-treatment he received continued for years until the comedian's father died when he was 13. At that point, he gained some emotional freedom and was able to fight his brother's terrorism.

Knotts eventually got his complete freedom when he attended Morgantown High School. The actor's daughter would later reveal that Knotts' school years were the best years of his life.

KNOTTS AND METZ'S RELATIONSHIP TIMELINE

American actors Don Knotts, as Barney Fife, and Andy Griffith (1926 - 2012), as Sheriff Andy Taylor in the US sitcom 'The Andy Griffith Show', circa 1965. | Source: Getty Images

American actors Don Knotts, as Barney Fife, and Andy Griffith (1926 - 2012), as Sheriff Andy Taylor in the US sitcom 'The Andy Griffith Show', circa 1965. | Source: Getty Images

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After high school, Knotts proceeded to university, where he met his first wife, Kathryn Metz. She was studying Speech and English, and the only thing she knew about the comedian was that he was the fair-haired boy from the drama department.

But soon, "the fair-haired boy" fought with other suitors to win Metz's heart. Knotts' relentless spirit, as well as support from his fans at the university, was an added advantage.

He captured Metz's heart in no time, and the pair started dating. Knotts and Metz dated for two years before tying the knot in December 1947 in a ceremony at Metz's father's church.

American actor and comedian Don Knotts (1924 - 2006) as Roy Fleming in the film 'The Reluctant Astronaut', 1967. | Source: Getty Images

American actor and comedian Don Knotts (1924 - 2006) as Roy Fleming in the film 'The Reluctant Astronaut', 1967. | Source: Getty Images

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Seven years later, they welcomed their daughter, Karen. The couple's son, Thomas, followed in 1957. Three days after Thomas was born, Knotts traveled to California for work. The actor loved his family greatly, but work was also important, and Metz understood.

For years, Knotts was engrossed in work to the point where his son, Thomas, could testify to his father's hard work. The young man recalled a period when his dad had to work as a director, producer, and star. In Thomas's words:

"That's the hardest I ever remember seeing him work. He worked day and night under such pressure. He was stressed out."

American television actor Don Knotts (second left) sits on a couch with his family at home, March 2, 1961. | Source: Getty Images

American television actor Don Knotts (second left) sits on a couch with his family at home, March 2, 1961. | Source: Getty Images

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Unfortunately, while Knotts spent time working and building his career, his marriage crumbled. Eventually, after staying married for almost two decades, the comedian decided to end his union with Metz.

It was revealed that Knotts' romantic involvement with Lynn Paul, Andy Griffith's manager's assistant, was the cause of the split. Thomas would later reveal that his father hated leaving the marriage, but he had a lot of personal issues to deal with.

Following the pair's divorce, Metz agreed to a $338,400 settlement, and the pair remained warm towards each other afterward.

DETAILS OF KNOTTS' FATHERHOOD

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Don Knotts in "Urban Plowboy" - February 9, 1982. | Source: Getty Images

Don Knotts in "Urban Plowboy" - February 9, 1982. | Source: Getty Images

After Knotts and Metz parted ways, the latter relocated to North Carolina with their son, while Karen remained with her father. Years later, Karen would open up about the comedian's great fatherhood, despite his busy schedule.

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Karen confessed that Knotts worked long hours and sometimes missed dinner because he arrived home late. However, the comedian made sure to go to his children's room and say goodnight.

"One night, I just couldn't go to sleep, and he bought me a little radio, and I left it on all night, and it cured me of my sleeplessness," Karen recalled.

American television actor Don Knotts stands his family on the porch of their home, March 2, 1961. | Source: Getty Images

American television actor Don Knotts stands his family on the porch of their home, March 2, 1961. | Source: Getty Images

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She also revealed that her father was insanely natural and had an out-of-control funniness. Overall, Knotts had a great relationship with his kids. They occasionally visited him on set, which proved how much the kids loved their father.

On one of those visits, Karen recalled how Andy Griffith teased Knotts about his soft parenting towards his daughter.

Portrait of American television actor Don Knotts as he poses, arms crossed, at the bottom of the steps to his house and his daughter Karen (in white) eats with a friend in the background.  March 2, 1961.| Source: Getty Images

Portrait of American television actor Don Knotts as he poses, arms crossed, at the bottom of the steps to his house and his daughter Karen (in white) eats with a friend in the background. March 2, 1961.| Source: Getty Images

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According to Karen, Griffith had told the comedian that he loved his daughter, but she was slow. "Are you done?" Knotts pulled his friend into the restroom and asked. In response to Knotts's question, Griffith teased him with these words:

"You're one tough dad."

Don Knotts and daughter Karen during American Foundation For The Performing Arts Gala at Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. | Source: Getty Images

Don Knotts and daughter Karen during American Foundation For The Performing Arts Gala at Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. | Source: Getty Images

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Whether Knotts was a soft parent or not, one thing was sure: the actor loved his children and enjoyed spending time with them even when they had grown up.

A picture shared on Karen's Facebook page on Knott's posthumous birthday in 2021 showed the father of two spending time with his kids in his daughter's home in the 1980s.

INSIDE KNOTTS' FINAL YEARS

Actor Don Knotts with his wife Loralee Czuchna, attending the Los Angeles Television Awards, 1975. | Source: Getty Images

Actor Don Knotts with his wife Loralee Czuchna, attending the Los Angeles Television Awards, 1975. | Source: Getty Images

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Before his demise and after one failed marriage, Knotts married two more times. He tied the knot with Loralee Czuchna in 1974, but the union was short-lived and ended a few years later in 1983.

Then he found love again in his last years, tying the knot with his third wife, Frances Yarborough, in 2002. Three years later, the comedy icon was diagnosed with lung cancer. He hid the diagnosis from many people, including his children and Griffith.

However, on Christmas Day in 2005, the comedian and his wife hosted Thomas and Karen. As usual, Knotts insisted on keeping his condition away from his children.

Don Knotts and wife during 27th Annual Vision Awards at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. | Source: Getty Images

Don Knotts and wife during 27th Annual Vision Awards at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. | Source: Getty Images

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By January 2006, shortly after the New Year, Knotts had sunk into delirium and was admitted into Cedars Sinai Hospital. He lay on his deathbed surrounded by his kids, and during that period, he finally decided to tell Thomas and Karen about his illness.

Despite being in his final days, Knotts still tried to make everyone laugh. Karen recalled that on one occasion, he said something funny that made her run outside to laugh hard. Karen said she did that because she did not want to laugh in the presence of her dying father.

Unfortunately, the joy Knotts brought his family soon ended. He died at 11 p.m. on February 24, 2006, with his children and wife embracing him.

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WHERE IS KAREN NOW?

Karen Knotts poses with her memoir "Tied Up in Knotts" at Book Soup on March 03, 2022 in West Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Karen Knotts poses with her memoir "Tied Up in Knotts" at Book Soup on March 03, 2022 in West Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Sixteen years have passed since Knotts died, and Karen is still preserving her father's legacy. She has followed in her father's footsteps as a comedian and currently runs a one-woman comedy show titled "Tied Up In Knotts."

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