Don Knotts’ Daughter Said She Had To Leave His Deathbed To Laugh


UPDATED 11/15/2021



Don Knotts, who is best known for playing the role of Deputy Barney Fife in The Andy Griffith Show, was lying in his deathbed, as his daughter, Karen had to immediately rush out in order to laugh. Karen has given a good explanation for the behavior that many may find odd or even disrespectful.


She said, “Here’s the thing about my dad. He had this funniness that was just completely, insanely natural. When he was dying, he was making us laugh in hysterics.”

Karen Knotts had to leave her dad Don Knotts’ deathbed to laugh

THE SHAKIEST GUN IN THE WEST, Don Knotts, 1968 / Everett Collection

In a new book, Karen writes about the entire situation candidly. “He wasn’t there trying to make anybody laugh – he was naturally funny! And at times, he would be funny when he didn’t mean to be. So that’s what happened.”

RELATED: Don Knotts: The Untold Truth of America’s Beloved Deputy Sheriff

“We were sitting with him because we knew it was very close to the end of his illness. It was just such a somber mood. Then all of a sudden he just started doing something so funny that just gave us the giggles. And he would do that – just suddenly do or say something at a quiet moment to make you laugh. That came to him naturally.”

She wishes she had stayed to laugh it out with her father

She later regretted not having laughed in front of her father, but she only did so because she thought it would be rude. I just couldn’t hold it in. I had to run out of that room. I didn’t want him to think I was laughing at him because he could be sensitive. But I just thought, ‘Oh my God, I need to step out now.'”

Karen says she later told Director Howard Storm about all of it, and he said in response, “You should have stayed there and laughed! That’s what comedians live for.” But she was just having a tough time thinking about laughing in front of her dad as he was dying.

THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, Don Knotts, 1960-68 (1961 photo by Gene Trindl) / Everett Collection

RELATED: Andy Griffith Convinced A Dying Don Knotts To Let Him Visit By Channeling His Inner Andy Taylor

Enjoy our deep dive into the life and career of the wonderful Don Knotts…

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