I recently bought an Amazon Fire so that I could download books and read them with a bright light behind somewhat enlarged type. Upon receipt, I downloaded a true murder mystery, the kind of story I typically enjoy. However, in this story the author was meticulous about describing all the characters–none of which lived a heroic and even an admirable life. For the first time while reading a book, I decided I didn’t care who was murdered, why the murder was committed or who did it! I stopped reading the book.
Then I found another true story, a biography of comedian Don Knotts by his daughter Karen Knotts. I had always enjoyed Don Knotts on the Andy Griffith Show, but that’s about all I knew about him.
Turned out I really enjoyed Tied Up in Knotts: My Dad and Me. Daughter Karen writes a personal story, with any small incidents told by her and others. The book includes a lot about her own life, but the narrative focuses on Knotts’ rise to stardom first, from an abusive home, then as a student ventriloquist, an entertainer in the service, a radio actor, a Broadway actor, a television comedian, a movie star, a voice-over actor and then a popular live theater star. I frankly had not known Knotts was ever a ventriloquist and I didn’t remember (if I ever knew) that he had quite a successful movie career. Thankfully, Knotts also comes off as a very talented fellow, low key in real life, beloved by his co-stars.
I sure as heck didn’t know the 5’6-1/2″, 140-pound Knott had had three wives. Knotts did not seem to me like a man whose physical presence would have been that attractive to women. However, I do agree a sense of humor can be very attractive, and friends said Knotts was considered a “ladies man.” Knotts was also somewhat of a weekend hypochondriac which eventually affected a couple of his marriages.
Daughter Karen also mentions her father’s struggles with anxiety, alcohol and pills and her own mental struggles, but these subjects, I gather, were just in passing and were not particularly significant. Instead we find out about a lifelong friendship between Don Knotts and Andy Griffith, something I didn’t expect, having read gossip in the past about Griffith not being such a nice guy. With Knotts, to the very end, Andy Griffith was a great friend.
So yes, I recommend this book. It’s rather easy reading and if you react as I did, being more and more curious about Knotts’ career outside of Mayberry (and his five Emmy awards), it may send you to a movie or a YouTube clip. Me? I went to YouTube and sat laughing anew at this very funny one-of-a-kind gentleman. And in view of the news of the day, some new laughs were just what the doctor ordered. Enjoy the clip below: