One of Don Knotts’ more interesting film appearances was his role as the nervous motorist in the epic all-star comedy film by Stanley Kramer called It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The film features a group of characters, played by some of the most prolific actors of the ’60s, as they all engage in a mad attempt to get $350,000 in stolen cash (more than a million dollars in today’s dollar value). The film features popular actors such as Edie Adams, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, and Jonathan Winters. It was unfortunately cut short by the studio who distributed it, but eventually, a restored version of the film was released in a five-disc format containing almost the entire 197 minutes of the original film.
The movie was one of the highest-grossing films of all time when adjusted for inflation, and made about $60 million, which is about $500 million in today’s dollars. It won an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing and received Oscar nominations for its color cinematography, film editing, sound recording, music score, and the original title song.
His Incredible Grave Plaque
Don Knotts will always be remembered for his various legendary roles, including the portraying the carnival ride operator who was sent to space in The Reluctant Astronaut, his role as Jesse, a reluctant cowboy in The Shakiest Gun in the West, and as Barney Fife, the deputy and cousin of Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show. Many people have very fond memories of the man who entertained them and put a smile on their faces from the mid-‘50s up until his passing, five decades later.
Even though almost a decade and a half have passed since Don Knotts died in 2006, his memory lives on as he provides inspiration to many aspiring comedians and entertainers, as-well as those who remember him fondly for his roles. Nothing sums up who Knott was or what he loved most more than the bronze plaque that was made especially in his memory and now rests as part of his grave. The engraved images immediately invoke a sense of nostalgia and longing, as-well-as a warm feeling of happiness at all the wonderful memories this man helped create.
The Last Time I Saw Archie
Don Knotts played in various films that were centered around World War II, it was probably his way of going back to his military past as a decorated veteran who helped raise his soldiers’ morale. In the film The Last Time I Saw Archie, which was a 1961 comedy set in the last days of the Second World War, Don plays as Captain Harry Little.
In the film, Private Arch Hall Sr., played by Robert Mitchum, is a lazy and conniving American in the aviation schools who dominates everyone around him while attempting to not do any work. This leads him to various wacky adventures in what the film called "The Most Uproarious G.I. Comedy of Them All!. '' Unfortunately, the film was not well received by critics and faded away relatively quickly from the eyes of the public.
The Incredible Mr. Limpet
Many young people who have never even heard of Don Knotts will recognize this famous picture of him from one of the posters of The Incredible Mr. Limpet. This was one of his later films, which was done in color and based on a 1942 novel of a similar name, where Don plays a man named Henry Limpet who turns into a talking fish that looks like a tilefish. In the film, he helps the United States Navy find and destroy Nazi submarines.
The Incredible Mr. Limpet was a combination of live-action and animation, something which was quite new at the time, and received raving reviews for both its production and overall entertainment value. It also premiered in a very unique location, appearing on January 20, 1964, at the Weeki Wachee Springs Underwater Theater in Spring Hill, Florida. This was the world's first underwater movie premiere of all time, and Knotts was proud of it, calling it "very very good."
The Apple Dumpling Gang
One of Don Knotts' later live-action roles was a return to his roots from The Shakiest Gun in the West, in the form of a 1975 comedy western film called The Apple Dumpling Gang, a Disney film based on the novel of the same name by Jack Bickham. Don took up the role of Theodore Ogilvie, one of the three main characters in the film. The other two leads were played by Bill Bixby as Russell Donovan and Susan Clark who in the role of Magnolia Dusty Clydesdale. The basic plot of the film is about a gambler named Russell Donovan who gets duped into taking care of a bunch of orphans who happened to strike gold during the California Gold Rush.
The film was an absolute hit in the box office and made over $13 million in theatrical rentals, which is over $600 million in today's money when adjusted for inflation. It received generally mixed reviews, praising it for its humor but criticizing it for the banality of the work. The film was successful enough to warrant a 1979 sequel called The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, which featured the comedy duo of Tim Conway and Don Knotts reprising their popular roles as Amos and Theodore.