PostHeaderIcon Karen Knotts: The Dad I Didn’t Know

Karen Knotts went to USC where she learned her craft from Emmy Award winning director Alex Siegal. She did Equity regional theatre across the country. Roles included a prostitute in “Norman is that You?” and a prude in “Mind with the Dirty Man.” Karen’s first TV break was a miniseries starring George Peppard entitled “One of Our Own”. She played a hippy hitchhiker. The part required her to recite limmericks while “smoking pot” while holding a guitar, then throw herself through the car’s windshield. Television roles followed, in “Return to Mayberry” she played a former highschool beauty queen, and in “Vice Academy” a demented prison guard. Karen did well in sitcoms, even being directed by the colorful Carroll O’Connor. Recently, Karen starred in “An Occurrence at Black Canyon,” playing a sexually frustrated artist in 17th century France. Upcoming is Sy Rosen’s “Speed Dating.” Other fun credits are “Twinkles and Friends” (a TV pilot for kids), “Out of the Shadows” (a documentary about illiteracy) and the stage farce “Lend Me A Tenor” in which she won an ADA Actor’s award for Lonnie Chapman’s Group Rep Theatre (GRT).

The Dad I Didn’t Know

When Dad was a boy, there were hard times at home. The family was poor, his father was sick and couldn’t work, and his mother worried every week about how she was going to pay rent. But when he got to high school, everything changed. Dad’s personality which had previously been shy and withdrawn, suddenly exploded. He often said this was one of the best times of his life.

He became a very known and popular personality on campus. His humor was emerging. He ran for, and got elected to class president, and he wrote a column for the school paper called ‘Dots and Dashes by Knotts.’ It was full of fun little tidbits (and humor of course) about other students and high school happenings.

Another great thing that happened was the beginning of a deep and lasting friendship with another popular boy, Jarvey Eldred. Jarvey came from a wealthy family who lived on the ‘other’ side of the tracks. He was handsome, fun, and a great dancer. Jarvey often borrowed the family car and the guys would go out on double dates together. All the girls in their class wanted to date them.

Don and Jarvey developed a song and dance act which they performed at school functions. Later, another boy was added make it a trio, Ritchie Ferrara. Ritchie was an awesome musician, he played banjo, so now they had even more booking appeal. Both Ritchie and Jarvey were dad’s life long friends.

Years later when Dad was hot as a performer on ‘Man on the Street’ (a sketch from ‘The Steve Allen Tonight Show’), he was invited to perform in Cuba (I’m not sure what show, I think it was a variety show). He went down there and immediately got sick, among other things he had a terrible stomach ache. Everyone was afraid that he would have to cancel his appearance. He called Ritchie, who by this time was a doctor. Ritchie immediately flew down. After his examination, he privately diagnosed the case as stage fright. So he went to the store, bought groceries, came back and proceeded to cook a huge Italian spaghetti dinner.

Dad was perplexed, he couldn’t understand the treatment. Then Ritchie started telling stories and they got to laughing, piling in the food, drinking wine, and next thing you know, that stomach ache had vanished! Dad went on to perform on the show. They did things like that many times for each other over the years, and Dad regularly flew out to visit Jarvey in West Virginia. To this day Ritchie still plays a mean banjo.

*You can catch Karen this weekend at the Mayberry Days celebration in Mt. Airy, N.C. She’ll be performing her show, Tied Up In Knotts!, at the Downtown Cinema theater.


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Of course, we’ll always remember

16 Responses to “Karen Knotts: The Dad I Didn’t Know”

  • Lee Lofland says:

    These comments were posted on Facebook:

    Cathy Lee Carper – Just read through the article… really enjoyed it. I also remember him in a few Disney movies – he was GREAT.”:)

    Robert Walker – We’ll never see the like of him again. Remember as a kid first time I saw him was on The Tonight Show where he did great skits for none other than the amazing Steve Allen. Dates me.

  • Lee Lofland says:

    From crimescenewriter:

    Betty Gordon writes – Lee, thanks for the piece on Karen Knotts and her dad. So many of us enjoyed The Andy Griffith Show.

  • Becky Levine says:

    Lovely post. How fun for you to get to hook up with Don Knott’s daughter!

  • Great post! My childhood memories would not be complete without remembering Don Knotts. Would love to see Tied Up In Knots!

  • SZ says:

    Your new best friend Lee ? Is Facebook the new blog tool ? I have made one, however have not used it much yet.

  • Donnell says:

    Karen and Lee. What a great post! Thanks for sharing your memories of your dad, truly one of my all-time favorite character actors. Along with The Andy Griffith Show, who can forget The Ghost and Mister Chicken and the Incredible Mr. Limpet. My condolences on your loss and best of luck to you in your career!

  • Lee Lofland says:

    SZ – Everybody is my best friend! Facebook is quite popular.

    Sue Ann – I plan to see Karen’s show this weekend.

    Becky – Yes, very cool.

  • Lee Lofland says:

    From Facebook:

    Susan Littlefield wrote – “Great article! I loved Don Knotts in anything he played. He was so funny as the landlord in Three’s Company. I didn’t know he had a daughter.”

  • Vivian Zabel says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I was a great fan of Don Knotts and Andy Griffith.

  • Mary Q says:

    Definitely have fond memories of Don Knott’s movies and on the Andy Griffith show. Thanks to Karen for sharing some of her memories and his history.

  • D. Swords says:

    Hi Karen,

    Great post. I am a great fan of The Andy Griffith Show. I don’t think there has ever been a TV show that has wider appeal or a larger fan base than TAGS. Just today, someone at work was talking about the show.

    When I used to work the street as a policeman, I had a partner who was also a fan, and we would work lines from the show into our conversations with people. Of course, they didn’t know what was going on, but we had a blast with it.

    There will never be another show like it, and I hope no one ever tries to do a remake. It just wouldn’t work.

  • Lee Lofland says:

    I don’t know, Dave. How about Karen as Barney and Thelma Lou’s daughter, and she’s now the sheriff?

  • D. Swords says:

    Well, Lee, I meant no one could replace Andy and Barney, but your idea might work, if you’d play Floyd Lawson, Jr. – proprietor of Floyd’s Tonsorial Parlor

  • Elaine Grant says:


    What a nice post. Barney Fife was the deputy we loved to hate, wasn’t he? We cringed at his ineptitude as a deputy and his boastful ego, yet we loved him to the core. I confess I have the full set of TAGS on VCR and DVD and, seriously, watch one episode every night before bedtime and have for years. My family laughs because I watch every marathon that comes on TV even though I own the DVD’s and can literally quote the dialog. Yet, I very rarely watch the ones after Don left the show. They just aren’t the same. And I’m old enough to remember him when he played the “nervous” man so many years ago. So funny!

    One day I’m going to Mayberry

    Thanks again for your lovely story about your father.


  • Hannah says:

    i feel so sorry about his death i have posters all over my room ond all his movies and im 10

  • Hannah says:

    theres a girl in h&r block commercial that looks like him and stars in cory and the house sometimes her face looks just like his

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