I grew up with Opie, Andy, and Barney. For me the series of a small town in the south revealed the it was typical small city USA. Living in the Midwest this show became a framework of what life was like then. For instance, the Barber shop scenes brought memories to me as I personally had a barber as well.
In the chair I would sit while surrounded by older men. These came around the same barber shop daily. I saw the same ones on the weekends when I had a haircut. From this small shop the world problems were discussed. Looking out you could see the main street in all its small town finery. In this setting, I personally believe Barney Fife, a.k.a. Don Knotts demonstrated his true comedy genius. Although, many see Don Knotts getting his rise in comedy on a show called 'Laugh-in', his best work I feel was done in Mayberry. It was in this setting, week after week, you would lose yourself in the character that he played.
Many Americans valued this show. The setting was one that many including myself identified with. There was no doubt that the same figures roamed our streets. From the barber, small town sheriff, the mechanic, and the deputy, it all made perfect sense. In a way we knew that the characters were exaggerated a bit. Especially the small town deputy called Barney Fife. How could anyone be like that for real. But then, his comedic way always made the show. It took us away from the days of problems and schedules that were way too busy.
Moreover, when Barney was around, you always knew it. Something about the way he pulled up his pants and guns, with a twist and a nod of the head. The hat always came down to his eyebrows and looking out with a firm reflection, the deputy always had the situation in control. That is until he found out the person he locked up was the wrong one. Then there are the times Barney would shake and shudder, and visibly come around to the duties at hand. Capturing bad guys, going on a date, and keeping the peace in Mayberry. It revealed a time when you knew the simple times were gone, but it was great to see them illustrated in the show. Barney and Andy together added to the mix.
Barney Fife, The Ghost and Mr Chicken, and many more achievements made Don Knotts who he was. He could always look scared and still come out on top. The hero, with a secret, but it came out okay anyway. With Barney, the straight leads, the serious leads would play second to Barney’s ability to get a laugh. But without those seconds and serious leads, it would not be the same. Out of the mix of the unreal, into real life, that is what Don Knotts did. He did it well.
I genuinely miss his talent. There is not a person who I think would doubt this mans genius. He was able to act and did it well. Bring it to you and make you lose all sense of time. There for a short period, was a character that took you away with him. He did this for me and many others in shows like Mayberry, Three’s Company, and others. From the television screen to the big screen, Don Knotts played it well. I can remember him in western, and small bits on television, as well as major shows. In them all, his comedy genius was revealed.
When the news came of his death, I remembered the shows I grew up with him on. Those times when I was taken away from the life I was living. It was there on a silver thread and a box screen with pictures that I drifted away with Don Knotts and Mayberry. It was also there I did not forget the characters that I came in contact with on a day to day basis. Out of those characters, shows are created. That where Mayberry came from. That was where Don Knotts developed.
Somewhere in the creators genius stands Don Knotts. The ability to create, develop, and move forward with the times. Now the times will sadly move ahead without this talent. But in the golden vaults of yesteryear, stands a true hero. A deputy in uniform with a shaken look and a talent to make you laugh. A person who history will remember fondly. His name is Don Knotts.
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