Just signed on to the computer and saw that everybody’s favorite deputy and everybody’s favorite landlord, Don Knotts aka Barney Fife/Ralph Furley has died. Yes, he was 81 years old and had lived a long and frutiful life, but somehow, the world without Don Knotts is kinda hard to imagine.
I grew to love the Andy Griffith Show through Mr. Smiff. I’d watched it since I was a kid but he turned me on to the show, the brilliance of the writing and characters and since we’ve been married, nigh coming on 17 years, it’s been part of just about the only routine, organized happening at our house, to watch Andy before we go to sleep.
I came to appreciate that Don Knotts was more than just Barney Fife through my love of classic television and seeing old Steve Allen shows. I love the “Man on the Street” and the little nervous guy character he did. He was brilliant.
I actually got to see Don Knotts, not too long ago in the summer of 2004. The Mayberry Crew was appearing at one of their festivals and they were at the Grand Ole Opry. Mr. Smiff was still playing with Mike Snider and they were playing that night and it just so happened some relatives of mine were in from California and Hawaii and they wanted to see the Opry. I didn’t even know Don Knotts was going to be there until I got there.
Mr. Smiff was on an earlier spot and really wanted to see Don Knotts up close. He rarely gets excited or starstruck about celebrities he runs into, in fact, the only time I’ve ever heard him comment about being impressed with famous people he’s seen at the Opry all the years he played out there just about every week (beginning in 1979) was Nolan Ryan and Andy Griffith.
He was told the Mayberry Gang would be there for the second show, so Mr. Smiff went ahead and left for a bite to eat. Because a couple of them were in somewhat frail shape (Howard Morris aka Ernest T. Bass was there and in obvious bad health) they only did the one spot. Mr. Smiff got back and found out the Mayberry Bunch was already gone, he was devastated. He did see Doug Dillard but he’s been a friend and compadre for many years so, nothing against Doug, but….
Me and the Princess got to see Don Knotts, though. She was so excited when she realized that Don Knotts was Mr. Furley. I told her to take it in because someday she would be able to tell her children she saw Don Knotts in person.