Some people are born with the ability to bring happiness to others. Don Knotts was one of those people, even when he was facing his own mortality he still wanted to make the people around him smile and laugh during this usually somber time. His daughter, Karen Knotts, recounted the passing.
“Here’s the thing about my dad,” she explained. “He had this funniness that was just completely, insanely natural. When he was dying, he was making us laugh in hysterics.
He was literally dying, but he did something or said something that caused my stepmother and me to go into fits of laughter, which is why I ran out. I thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to be standing there in front of this man, my dearly beloved father, who’s dying, and laughing.
I was telling this story to Howard Storm, who’s a director, and he said, ‘You should have stayed and laughed out loud. That’s what comedians live for!’ He was right; I should have just stood there and blasted out laughing.”
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Don Knotts had a troubled childhood that would haunt him later in life.
“Knotts was born in West Virginia to a mother who was 40 at the time and a father who suffered from both schizophrenia and alcoholism. Growing up, his father would reportedly hold a knife to Knotts’ neck and threaten him.
“My dad was very burdened down by all these problems,” said Karen. “He had problems with his father and an older brother who tormented him because they were alcoholics.
“When his father passed, he was 13 years old. At that point, that burden — that huge burden — lifted off him, and he became old enough that he was able to get the other brother under control, so he was no longer terrorized at home.”
But despite this traumatic upbringing he made a career where he would bring smiles and happiness to others. From Mayberry to the many other tv/movie roles he starred in.
“He was also a very loving father,” Karen adds. “He didn’t like to go out and do things like you picture most fathers going out and doing — you know, outdoorsy stuff — because he was a very internal kind of person. He liked to tell stories and talk.