Don Knotts’ Daughter Continues His Acting And Comedy Legacy

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Remember Sheriff Deputy Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show? He was, of course, played by Don Knotts. From his first marriage to Kathryn Metz, Knotts had a daughter, Karen, who has spent years following her father’s path by enjoying a career in comedy.  Karen’s stage show, Tied Up In Knotts!, serves a tribute to her father, who died of lung cancer.

The show has been going on for over ten years, and Karen describes it as “family friendly, and at its heart, a father-daughter story.” She wrote on her official website, “When my father, legendary comedian Don Knotts, passed away in February 2006, I wanted to pay tribute to him the way I knew him best: as an amazing, loving dad. That’s when I created my live, one-woman comedy show.’”

Don Knotts didn’t want Karen Knotts to become an actress

Kareen Knotts
Don Knotts, with his first wife, Kathryn Knotts, and their children, Karen Knotts and Thomas Knotts, ca. early 1960s (photo by Gene Trindl)

Although Knotts and his daughter got along well, he did not welcome the idea of her being an entertainer. “I always wanted to be an actress, even when I was young, but he said, ‘No, that’s not a good life for a child,’” Karen recalled. Regardless of her father’s feeling, Karen took a drama class at Beverly Hills High School and proceeded to USC of Cinematic Arts. However, as the supportive father Knotts was, he ultimately had her back on the choice to become an actress, which has paid off.

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“I told him, and he kind of freaked out about it,” she added. “He said, ‘It’s such a hard life. You don’t understand.’ We kind of butted heads, but he supported me 100 percent in the end.”

Karen Knotts

Karen, who is 68, has had a successful acting career starring in theater productions, like George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s play, You Can’t Take It With You. In 1968 she co-starred with her dad inThe Shakiest Gun in the West, guest starred on Archie Bunker’s Place and appeared in Exorcism and An Occurrence at Black Canyon. You could also catch her in the TV reunion film, Return to Mayberry, in which she played the receptionist for Opie Taylor (Ron Howard).

The Trailblazer’s Acting Career

Setting the pace for his daughter, Knotts won five Emmy awards for his role as Fife in The Andy Griffith show, which he starred in from 1960 to 1965. He also hosted a self-titled variety show and costarred in the sitcom Three’s Company.

Karen uses her show, Tied Up In Knotts!, to keep her father’s iconic trail alive and raise awareness concerning the issue that ravaged her father’s health in his older years — macular degeneration.

WAKE ME WHEN IT’S OVER, Don Knotts, 1960, TM & Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp./courtesy Everett Collection

“I consider my live comedy show a ‘Docu-Comedy,’ because I’m presenting the truth about Dad’s life as well as delivering laughs,” Karen wrote. “For me, it’s a love story that continues to grow as I share these precious memories with audiences who continue to find joy in the legacy of Don Knotts.”

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