Don Knotts spent most of his life of over seven decades, making people laugh. The actor has been an entertainer since his early twenties and every professional activity he had ever engaged in was for the sole purpose of putting a huge smile on peoples’ faces. His sense of humor was part of his everyday life and came completely naturally to him, to the point of cracking jokes and trying to make people laugh even during his last living days. While on his deathbed, his daughter Karen couldn’t stop laughing when he told her a great joke, despite the tragic nature of the situation. She said he would often make people laugh hysterically without even trying, as it came so naturally to him.
Karen said that in retrospect, she thinks it would have been better to stay in the room and laugh, rather than leave it just to be polite. Her father spent all his life as a comedian, so looking back, it seems that he would have appreciated knowing that he retained his sense of humor until his last moments. Don Knotts was born into a challenging life, and spent most of his young years dealing with various hardships. He used his sense of humor as a tool to make life a bit better for everyone, so it’s not a surprise that he would crack one last joke to make everyone laugh and feel good even on the sad day of his passing.
Don Knotts also played as Ralph Furley, the landlord of an apartment building in Santa Monica from the show Three's Company. The show was an American sitcom by ABC that aired from 1977 until the end of 1984. The show is based on the British sitcom, Man About The House. Knotts first appeared on the show in season four's first episode, "The New Landlord", and stayed up until the last episode of the show. Ralph Furley was quite a peculiar character, with some very odd clothing but an overall good personality.
This was Don Knotts' second most popular role to date. He joined the show when it was already quite successful and helped make it even better. Originally he was supposed to play the role for only a few episodes as the original landlord characters from the show left to shoot their own spin-off series, but Knotts’ character, Ralph Furley, quickly became one of the audience's favorites and this caused the writers to add many storylines to his character for future episodes. Knott was nominated for an award called “Favorite Nosy Neighbor” for his role, although he didn’t end up winning it.
The Herbie Franchise
Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo was Disney's attempt to revive the Herbie franchise, featuring the beloved anthropomorphic 1963 Volkswagen Beetle that has a mind of its own. The franchise started out in the 1968 film The Love Bug but began to lose steam after it's a sequel, Herbie Rides Again came out in 1974. Don Knotts appeared in the film as Wheely Applegate,
The film received excellent reviews and managed to revive the franchise, which led to younger audiences getting a chance to put on a seatbelt and enjoy the magic of Herbie. If you’re missing that little love bug, check out the later 2005 rendition called Herbie Fully Loaded starring Lindsay Lohan and Justin Long.
His Final Day
Don Knotts died in early 2006 at the respectable age of 81, at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. His cause of death was cited as pulmonary and respiratory complications of pneumonia related to lung cancer. His health began to deteriorate in the last few months of his life, after a few years of him visibly aging in a fairly fast manner. The actor went to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for therapy during the last months of his life but had gone home after reporting to his family that his health had improved somewhat.
Knotts was buried at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles. He had many guests attending the funeral and received glowing and loving obituaries, with many of the attendees citing him as one of their greatest influences. In early 2011, his family replaced that granite headstone that marked his grave with a bronze plaque containing an engraved image of many of his most popular characters, such as Roy Fleming from The Reluctant Astronaut and Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show, with the engraving: "He saw the poignancy in people's pride and pain and turned it into something hilarious and endearing".
One popular film that many people don’t know that Don Knotts played in is the 2005’s popular animated children’s film Chicken Little. This role ended up being the actor's final role, which was a fitting ending for a long and successful entertainment career. Knotts voiced the character of Mayor Turkey Lurkey in the iconic Disney film, which ended up being a critically acclaimed film.
The film starred a young and cute rooster who has to deal with social problems after having a panic attack and proclaiming famously that “the sky is falling!”. Don Knotts' role in the film as Mayor Turkey Lurkey, was a return to his usual style of roles, with him playing a friendly and kind turkey who like the rest of his type-casted characters, is not the brightest tool is the shed.