Don Knotts' son reveals the most intense phase of his father's career

1970 was a rough year!

Shout! Factory, LLC

Kids absorb a lot more than we assume they do. There's a period before we're burdened by adulthood, where we soak in everything that we see. That means that children are often much more insightful than their grown-up counterparts. They have the time and the open-mindedness to pick up on what the rest of us miss.

Thomas Knotts, son of Don, had a backseat view of one of Hollywood's most successful career arcs. Tom was just three years old when his father shot to national fame during the first season of The Andy Griffith Show. The elder Knotts, of course, was a standout as Deputy Barney Fife, a role which would earn him more acclaim than anything else in his life as an actor.

But in the wake of The Andy Griffith Show, when Knotts was expected to capitalize on his beloved TV and movie roles, he found himself instead in uncharted territory. By 1970, Knotts was going to great lengths to sustain the peak his career experienced. The most promising work available to him, though, was as a variety show host. There was no shortage of opportunity, with Knotts eventually headlining a whopping twenty-two consecutive shows. But he was an actor, not a stand-up comic. He just wasn't cut out for hosting full-blown variety hours.

In Daniel de Visé's Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show, the author includes interviews with both Don Knotts and his son regarding this period of Knotts' life.

"For the first time in my career," Knotts recalled, "I felt I was up against something I could not handle. For openers, I couldn't deal with writers firing that many sketches at me every week. I couldn't seem to make decisions on material that fast."

Knotts' son, Tom, provided his view on the time as well:

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

Don Knotts wasn't alone. That 1970-71 television season featured unprecedented amounts of variety shows, with hosts like Jim Nabors, Tim Conway, Red Skelton, Carol Burnet, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Dean Martin, Flip Wilson, Tom Jones, Andy Williams, and Lawrence Welk fighting for ratings. 

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KMT6600 1 month ago
Don Knotts was a very funny and likeable man He always made me laugh It really had to be hard as his son but then to think of him as a Dad but then love him as a comedian and a Father
cperrynaples 1 month ago
Many of those shows were gone by next year because Prime Time Access cut 4 hours out of every network schedule! Ed Sullivan went off after 23 years! Can you believe they misspelled Carol Burnett? They only have written her name a thousand times...LOL!
FLETCH 1 month ago
Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show is a must read for all fans of TAGS. Excellent book.
Runeshaper 1 month ago
Sounds rough 😞
Adamtwelvia Runeshaper 1 month ago
Glad he was able to bounce back with "Three's Company"
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