Don Knotts’ popularity peaked around the ’50s and ’60s as he starred in numerous films and TV shows in both leading and supporting roles. He was one of the crowd’s favorites and managed to draw audiences who fell in love with his skits, authenticity and brilliant sense of humor. The actor made a short appearance in 1973 on the popular sitcom Here’s Lucy starring Lucille Ball. The series also starred her boyfriend Gale Gordon and her two children.
Don had an extremely good decade in the ’70s in relation to his acting career, with countless acting opportunities flowing his way after his immense popularity gain in the previous two decades. The actor made many guest appearances on TV shows, and the episode where he appeared in Here’s Lucy ended up becoming the season’s most beloved and most watched one.
Another one of Don Knotts' attempts at voice-overs occurred in 2000, just six years before he passed away, when he lent his voice to the animated musical comedy film , which put an anthropomorphic spin on Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by animating a bunch of animals instead of humans to take the roles of the characters. Many of the film's voice-overs were done by popular country singers, especially for the lead characters, which made the movie appealing to a wider range of audiences.
Don Knotts' role was as Mutt Potter, and old and scared dog with big ears, a haircut that looks like a piece of synthetic grass, and sad droopy eyes. The film received mixed reviews from fans, with a 66% score on Rotten Tomatoes by over 1,700 of the site's users, but got almost no attention from film critiques and largely went unnoticed by them. It was considered a good take on the 1876 novel and a great and humble entry for Don Knotts' long filmography.
Don Knotts' final film role prior to his passing was a straight to DVD comedy film titled Air Buddies, which was the 6th entry into the Air Bud film series about a sports-playing Golden Retriever named Buddy and his gang of puppies. The film series is one of the world's most successful direct-to-DVD franchises and had grossed over $200 million by 2014. This was not only Don Knotts' last film, as it was also Patrick Cranshaw’s final one, as both passed away just prior to the release of the film.
Air Buddies came out on December 12, 2006, just a few months after the death of the popular actor. He lent his voice to portray Sniffer, an old bloodhound who lost his sense of smell a long time ago. His character later regains his sense of smell after being sprayed by a skunk. He's one of the protagonists of the movie and serves as a wise and old dog. The film received mixed reviews, scoring a rating of 4.8 out of 10 on the popular film review site IMDB, based on the combined ratings of over 3,000 of its users.
Another one of Don Knotts' popular guest appearances was on the successful show Fantasy Island where he appeared multiple times from 1978 until 1979. This was one of the most popular shows in the '70s and had numerous guest stars and celebrities making their appearances on the show. It was so popular in its time that the studio tried to revive it fourteen years after the show had ended in 1984.
The revival only made it for one season though.In the episode where Don Knotts appeared, he was set to play the part of a private eye, and discover at the end of the episode that his "suspects" were actually a bunch of actors.
The Love Boat
One of Don Knotts last guest appearances on TV shows was his role in the popular comedy-drama TV show The Love Boat which was set on the luxury passenger cruise ship S.S. Pacific Princess. The show aired from 1977 until early in 1987 and revolves around the ship's captain and a handful of its crew and passengers. Don Knotts appeared in episode 7 of the show's third season, he played as a famous TV celebrity disguised as a shoe salesman in an episode that is still considered today one of the better ones of the season.
In the episode, an attractive woman, played by Julie Newmar, tries to put her magic on Don Knotts character. He eventually relents and reveals his true identity to her.