- November 18, 2021
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The Andy Griffith Show star Don Knotts‘ daughter Karen Knotts recently published a book about her father called Tied Up in Knotts: My Dad and Me. A look at her father’s life and career from her unique vantage point, the book is a treat for fans of the iconic comedy.
The foreword for the book was written by the late Betty Lynn, who portrayed Knotts’ girlfriend on the series, and her thoughts had “Thelma Lou” all over them.
Don Knotts had two children from his first marriage: son Tom born in 1957 and his daughter Karen born in 1954, the latter of whom this fall published Tied Up in Knotts, a memoir about her life with her father, the inimitable actor who portrayed Deputy Barney Fife on the Griffith Show. Her opening thoughts in the book express both a deep awareness of who he was, and at the same time a deep desire to have known him more.
“When I think of Dad, the image that most often comes to mind is of him sitting in his favorite armchair, fingers tapping, saying nothing,” she wrote. “My father was and shall remain, the greatest enigma of my life. He was known for playing characters that were simple, yet he was incredibly complex.”
Knotts, understandably, was most associated for being Barney Fife. So much so, his daughter noted, that “when introduced, [fans or other celebrities] half expected an overexcitable man to jump out of his chair and do something wildly unpredictable,” like Barney Fife. But her father in reality was “a shy and quiet man who looked at them with direct, intelligent eyes.”
Betty Lynn, who portrayed Barney Fife’s girlfriend on the CBS comedy, wrote the foreword for the book. Her remarks, which Griffith fans can almost hear being said by Thelma Lou herself, are made even more poignant by Lynn’s recent death at age 95.
“We loved The Andy Griffith Show, all of us who were on it,” Lynn recalled. “We were so privileged to be on that show. When they put a call in for Thelma Lou, I couldn’t wait to go to set, because I loved doing it so much. I did a lot of movies and things, but the thing that I’m proudest of, really, is being on The Andy Griffith Show. I loved it so much.”
Lynn left the series in 1965 after Knotts himself departed to pursue a movie career. The show’s producers considered perhaps having Thelma Lou become a beauty salon owner in Mayberry.
In the end, however, as Knotts’ brother-in-law Daniel de Visé quoted Lynn as saying in Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show, “I didn’t see that. My whole life was for Barney.”
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