published Friday, April 15th, 2011

Don Knotts’ daughter offers a trip down Mayberry lane in Spring City

IF YOU GO

What: “Tied Up in Knotts” featuring Karen Knotts.

When: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Tennessee Valley Theatre, 184 W. Jackson Ave., Spring City, Tenn.

Admission: $15 (box office open 4-6 p.m. today).

Phone: 423-365-PLAY.

Website: http://tennesseevalleytheatre.com

Don Knotts may forever be remembered for his most famous character, but there’s much more to the actor’s legacy than Barney Fife, says his daughter.

Karen Knotts will share her memories Saturday in two presentations of “Tied Up in Knotts” at Tennessee Valley Theatre in Spring City.

“The show is the story of my relationship with my father,” Knotts said by phone earlier this week from Los Angeles. “It’s very much a father/daughter story.”

But even the family lore comes with plenty of behind-the-scenes perspective, and “The Andy Griffith Show” was pivotal in her formative years, she said. So in addition to discussing how different aspects of her father’s fame affected her and her brother, the actress said she’ll talk about Knotts’ childhood hardships, how he broke into show business, how he met Andy Griffith, her experiences on the Mayberry set as a little girl and her relationships with other actors on the show.

“I do lots of characters, too,” she said. Previous shows, for instance, have found her mimicking the particular cadence of Frances Bavier’s Aunt Bee.

Don Knotts won five consecutive Emmy Awards for his portrayal of the high-strung deputy, picking up a Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy trophy for each year he was on the show.

After leaving Mayberry, he appeared in a series of film comedies, including “The Incredible Mr. Limpet,” “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” and “The Shakiest Gun in the West.” Most of his later work, including a turn as the wacky Ralph Furley on the TV series “Three’s Company,” drew in some way on the personification of Barney, his daughter said.

“All of his energy went into [Barney],” she said. “That was the part he was meant to play. Some of the characters he played after that were reincarnations of Barney in a different world or different situations. But he was able to keep bringing it to life again.”

Knotts said she appreciates audience feedback, as she continually refines the material she mines for the show.

“My problem is narrowing it down,” she said. “I can’t keep those poor people for three days.”

about Lisa Denton...

Lisa Denton is deputy features editor and content editor of Current. She previously was a lifestyle, entertainment and region reporter/pod leader for The Chattanooga Times, which she joined in 1983. Lisa is from Sale Creek and holds an associate’s degree in journalism from Chattanooga State Community College. Contact Lisa at 423-757-6281 or ldenton@timesfreepress.com.

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