Don Knotts kept his family laughing to the very end
"He had this funniness that was just completely, insanely natural," Karen Knotts said in an interview.
Don Knotts could make people laugh in any situation. Years before fame, during World War II, the West Virginia native was splitting soldiers' side in the Pacific Theater. The lanky serviceman was part of a military comedy troupe dubbed Stars and Gripes. He performed with his pal Danny, a wooden ventriloquist dummy. Knotts claimed he eventually tossed Danny into the ocean.
"Here’s the thing about my dad," his daughter Karen Knotts told Closer Weekly in an interview, "He had this funniness that was just completely, insanely natural."
Born in 1954, Karen had the opportunity to work alongside her father on television a couple of times. In 1970, teenage Karen appeared on an episode of The Don Knotts Show. An actress herself, she continued to land roles on television in shows such as Eight Is Enough, One Day at a Time and Archie Bunker's Place. At last, in 1986, Karen was able to visit Mayberry with her father. She played Opie's receptionist in the made-for-TV movie Return to Mayberry.
According to Karen, dad never lost his comedic touch. She recalls the sitcom icon cracking people up in his final days in early 2006. Karen confessed to Closer Weekly that, at a certain point, she had to run from his room so she could burst out laughing.
"He was literally dying, but he did something or said something that caused my stepmother and me to go into fits of laughter,” explained Karen. At the time, she was reluctant to laugh by his deathbed. "'You should have stayed and laughed out loud,'" she recalls a friend telling her in hindsight. "'That’s what comedians live for!’ He was right — I should have just stood there and blasted out laughing."
In recent years, Karen has been honoring her father with a traveling one-woman show titled Tied Up in Knotts. She shares more heartwarming stories about her hilarious dad. Enjoy a highlight reel from the show: