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10 things you never knew about Ted Knight

He has ties to Wonder Woman, Star Trek and several puppets.

Image: The Everett Collection

Ted Knight was the perfect man for a role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The groundbreaking workplace comedy took place in a television station, and Ted Knight began his career in various small-market stations around the North East. He hosted a kids show in Providence, and a morning show in Albany. It's no wonder he had such a wonderful voice for the airwaves. The character of Ted Baxter was in his blood — though Knight was far brighter than that lovable buffoon.

If younger generations don't know Ted Knight from Mary Tyler Moore, odds are they laughed at his antics in Too Close for Comfort or Caddyshack, his final film role. Sadly, he passed away at the age of 62 in 1986, still at the top of his game.

You can spot Ted Knight all over MeTV, beyond his regular role on Mary Tyler Moore. He pops up in everything from The Twilight Zone to The Love Boat. Let's take a look at some fascinating facts about his life.


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1

He real name is Tadeusz Wladyslaw Konopka

That could be a little hard to fit on the screen during credits sequences. When working early in his career at WROW-TV in Albany, New York, Konopka played a cowboy character called Windy Knight. The name stuck.

2

He was an accomplished ventriloquist.

No wonder he was so good with that Cosmic Cow in Too Close for Comfort. All that early work in children's television gave him puppeteering skills, which he was able to work into his various roles throughout his career.

Image: The Everett Collection

3

He had a tiny role in 'Psycho.'

Knight appears uncredited in the classic Hitchcock film, as the police officer who gave Norman ("Mother") a blanket at the end.

Image: Paramount Pictures

4

He was a voice on 'Star Trek: The Animated Series.'

Knight also worked without screen credit for this gig. He played Carter Winston in the episode "The Survivor."

5

He narrated some of your favorite superhero cartoons, too.

"Dark Knight"? Hardly. This upbeat Knight was Filmation's go-to narrator for the animation studio's superhero cartoons. Yep, that was Ted narrating the first season of Super Friends. Speaking of a Wonder Woman connection…

Image: Filmation / Giphy

6

Jack Cassidy and Lyle Waggoner almost beat Knight for the role of Ted Baxter.

Though Knight was perfect for the role of Ted Baxter, he was not the first choice. Jack Cassidy turned down the role, which had been written with him in mind. Cassidy portrayed a similar buffoon on the sitcom He & She, but he feared being typecast. Lyle Waggoner, later to be better known as Steve Trevor on Wonder Woman, was next offered the job. He did not wish to leave The Carol Burnett Show. Knight, obviously, won the MTM role in the end. But Cassidy did turn up as Baxter's brother in the episode "Cover Boy."

7

He almost quit 'Mary Tyler Moore.'

Halfway through the series' third season, Baxter broke down in the office of co-creator Allan Burns. "I can’t do it," Knight confessed to Burns. "I can’t play Ted Baxter anymore. Everybody thinks I’m stupid and I’m not. I’m intelligent and well-read, but everyone treats me like I’m a schmuck." We're glad he stuck with it.

Image: The Everett Collection

8

Fans supplied his wardrobe on 'Too Close for Comfort.'

His cartoonist character on Too Close, Henry Rush, was known for wearing random collegiate sweatshirts. He first wore a Michigan pullover. Fans then began to mail in apparel representing their various schools. Knight tried to wear as many as he could. Here he is in a Pacific sweatshirt.

Image: The Everett Collection

9

He recorded an album of novelty songs.

Hi Guys featured cuts like "May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" and "I'm In Love With Barbara Walters." They were not hits, but Dr. Demento was a fan. Take a listen.

Image: Discogs.com

10

He did commercials for a mall in Cleveland.

Though he threatened to quit the character, Knight clearly grew comfortable in the blue blazer of Ted Baxter. He even unofficially slipped into the character, in a way, for a series of regional commercials for the Southgate USA shopping center in the Cleveland area. Sure, why not?

Image: YouTube

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