Last Known Activity Actor, Comedian. Born Jesse Donald Knotts in Morgantown, West Virginia, he is best known for his roles as 'Deputy Barney Fife' in the 1960s television series the "Andy Griffith Show," and as landlord 'Ralph Furley' from the late 1970s television situation comedy series "Three's Company." He began his career as a ventriloquist and comedian in his local hometown of Morgantown. Following an unsuccessful career launch in New York, he returned home to attend West Virginia University. He entered the United States Army following his freshman year and served in the Pacific Theater entertaining troops in a variety show called "Stars and Gripes." Following the war he returned to college, graduating in 1948 with a Bachelor's degree in Education. After completing college he moved to New York City where he became a regular on several radio and television programs, including the "Steve Allen Show." In 1955 he made his theatrical debut on Broadway, appearing in the comedy "No Time for Sergeants" along with Andy Griffith. In 1959 he moved to Hollywood where he joined Griffith on the "Andy Griffith Show." He appeared on the series from 1960 to 1965 as a regular cast member, earning five Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performance as a Supporting Actor. In 1965 he left the show to follow a film career. Over the next two years he returned periodically to the "Andy Griffith Show" in numerous guest appearance roles. Following a successful career in low-budget films which lasted late into the 1970s, he returned to television as the leisure-suit clad landlord in "Three's Company." He appeared on the series from 1979 to 1984. His notable TV and film credits include "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" (1963), "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" (1964), "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" (1966), "The Reluctant Astronaut" (1967), "The Shakiest Gun in the West" (1968), "The Love God" (1969), "The Don Knotts Show" (1970), "The Apple Dumpling Gang" (1975), "Gus" (1976), "Return to Mayberry" (1986), "Matlock" (1986), "Pleasantville" (1998) and numerous voice over characterizations on animated films. (bio by: Nils M. Solsvik Jr.)
Other Comments: At 19, Knotts joined the Army and served in World War II as part of a traveling GI variety show and as a nurse, including in the Pacific Theater.
Knotts got his first taste of showbiz in the Army during WWII while serving in the South Pacific Theatre of Operations. More specifically, he was a comedian in a touring G.I. variety show called "Stars and Gripes".