Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Get Well Deputy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A homecoming tribute for Don Knotts in his native West Virginia has been canceled because the 81-year-old actor best known for his role as Deputy Barney Fife on "The Andy Griffith Show" is too frail to travel, organizers said on Wednesday.
Due to unspecified health problems, the actor was advised by his doctors not to make the cross-country trip this summer, said Jack Thompson, a spokesman for the convention and visitors bureau in Knotts' hometown of Morgantown, West Virginia.
As a result, a weekend-long festival that had been scheduled for Aug. 12-14 has been postponed indefinitely.
"We really wanted to honor him, and for us to do that properly, we just needed him to be here," Thompson said.
Thompson said the city would go ahead with a few events that had been planned as part of the festival, including commemoration of a sidewalk star along the city's main street and the opening of a monthlong memorabilia exhibit.
The town's daily newspaper, The Dominion Post, said the actor in a phone call described himself as mobile, though not feeling well.
"I'm sorry I couldn't make it," he was quoted as telling the newspaper. "I would have liked to have come back."
Knotts is best remembered for his TV role as Barney Fife, the excitable sidekick and loyal deputy to the town sheriff, Andy Taylor, played by Andy Griffith on his 1960s comedy series. Knotts' performance on the CBS hit, set in the sleepy North Carolina town of Mayberry, earned him five Emmy Awards.I am a huge Don Knotts fan. I saw Don Knotts in a off-broadway play for my anniversary about nine years ago. I was also in a elevator with an elderly man. I did't pay him much mind until I noticed that it was Don Knotts – I had to double-take. You don't run into many celebraties out here. I said, "Hello," and he just smiled at me. That was six years ago and he looked very frail then. I wish him all the best.
Knotts left the series in 1965 to host his own variety show and later played landlord Ralph Furley on the 1970s-80s sitcom "Three's Company."