Forget Limp Bizkit – these kids are rocked by “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” – spunky DON KNOTTS! And their idolatry just might save the world, says their officially sanctioned guru!
A high school in the Midwest has a club dedicated to a most unlikely Hollywood hero – Don Knotts! At weekly meetings about 20 students from Webster Groves High School in Webster Groves, Mo., gather in a classroom to discuss the career of the actor who played lovable Deputy Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
The club is OFFICIALLY sanctioned by the school, and co-founder Will Patton, a junior, believes that its existence “is pretty reassuring about the future of our world.”
Knotts, who died in 2006 at age 81, first found fame back in 1956 on Steve Allen’s variety show, playing the nervous guy in the “Man on the Street” sketch.
He went on to win five Emmy Awards as Barney Fife between 1960 and 1967, creating a legendary TV character who was self-important, romantic, nearly always wrong and dreaming of the day he could use the one bullet that Sheriff Andy Taylor (Griffith) gave him.
Knotts also appeared as the wacky landlord Ralph Furley on “Three’s Company” from 1979 to 1984 and starred in a string of comedy movies, including “The Incredible Mr. Limpet,” “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken,” “The Shakiest Gun in the West” and “The Love God?”
It may seem unlikely that a group of today’s high school students would have a club dedicated to Knotts, seeing how the actor left Griffith’s show decades before they were born.
But club members came to know and love Knotts through TV reruns, DVDs and their parents.
“My dad’s all-time favorite TV character is Barney Fife, so naturally, I am a fan today,” said club member Jackson Hotaling, a junior. “TV Land was always on the television during my youth.”
Sophomore Chris Endicott, a member of the school’s band, said he’d heard his great-grandfather’s second cousin once caught a glimpse of Knotts.
“I think that makes me related to him, at least in my heart,” joked Chris. “When I heard about this club, I had to join.”
Chris added the school’s musical instructor once “murdered me verbally” when he asked to be let out of practice early so he could go to a Don Knotts club meeting.
Club co-founders Patton and junior Andrew Gurney found out they were both Don Knotts fans in middle school and felt that young people can still be drawn to his “everyman” style of humor.
“He’s someone EVERYONE can relate to,” said Gurney. “We relate to his everyday struggles and how he still manages to accomplish great feats.”
At a recent club meeting, members watched Knotts’ 1966 film “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” and filled out questionnaires during the screening.
“What does Don have plenty of?” one question asked.
The answer: “Spunk.”