Don Knotts, a very special man, passed away Friday
His son Tom and I have been very close friends since my high school days. Of all of my friends' parents, Tom's dad was truly one of the nicest.
Tom and I were quite inseparable in high school along with two other friends, Stan Brooks and Jack Gindi. The four of us were always close in those early days (and remain so). More often than not we would be found hanging out at Tom's house.
Don loved spending time with our "gang" as well. He was always warm to us, always friendly and always very much the comedian. I recall many evenings where he would have us rolling over in laughter with his schtick (which was generally far more baudy than his Barney Fife persona). He taught us poker and we spent many late night marathon sessions together. He was always threatening to cut his son "out of the will" when he spent too much time cogitating over his hands.
The last time I saw Don was just over a year ago when he took Tom, his fiancee, my wife and me out for dinner. Afterwards we all went to his home and had a great time with him and his wife. He rarely talked about his long career in show business but my wife really drew him out that night. She was always a big fan of his.
What struck me that evening was how much he loved his career, the people he worked with, the experiences, the excitement. He seemed truly a man with no regrets; a man who had done it his way. I'll always cherish that last evening with him and the passion he shared for his craft which was quite simply making other people laugh.
Several years ago he gave my wife, and autographed, a beautiful animation cell from his movie, The Incredible Mr. Limpet. She's always loved that cell and now it's hanging in our 3-year-old daughter's bedroom. Whenever I look at it, I know it will make me smile.
He will be missed.