Barney / Don Knotts

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FAQ: Barney / Don Knotts

Why did Barney (Don Knotts) leave TAGS after the 5th Season?

Andy had originally signed to do the show for 5 years, and I had a five year contract. He said " I'm only going to do this for 5 years and then move on." Even in the beginning of the fifth year he was still saying that. So I started self-protecting immediately and began searching out what I was going to do next. I interviewed with all networks. I was very hot with that show, so I could have had almost anything I wanted. Finally, I wound up getting a very nice feature deal with the universal to make The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. Anyway, it came down to this: I hadn't actually signed with Universal yet but had made a lot deals and negotiated for a long time. Then all of a sudden Andy turned around and changed his mind. He came to me and said, "I've decided to stay on. What do you think? We've got a new deal to offer you. Do you want to stay. But by then I had already committed myself to universal, where I had an opportunity to make features. Although I didn't have a production company , they gave me an office, my own writers and a five year contract. It was a nice deal, and by then I thought it was time for me to move on - so I did. I came back and did a few shows with Andy. I used to kid them when I came back. I'd say "Are you still working with that little screen? Then they'd yell, "here comes the movie actor."

Is it true that Don Knotts was a Drill Instructor in the Marine Corps?

To the best of my knowledge, Don Knotts was attending college when he enlisted in the Army. He served two years in the Special Service division. I don't believe he was ever a drill instructor, or ever in the Marine Corps. --Dale Robinson (co-author of "The Definitive Andy Griffith Show Reference")

What episode was it when Barney recited--or tried to--the preamble to the constitution?

The episode title is "Opie's Ill-Gotten Gain" and its episode #103. Air date November 18, 1963. This is the episode when Miss Crump mistakenly gave Opie straight A's. He actually had not gotten all A's. In fact, he got a F in arithmetic.

What are the words to the tongue twister that Barney recites for Opie?

Some one asked about Barney using a tongue twister. I remember the line well (it was an episode I wrote). That twister was taught to me by a private elocution teacher way back when I was a teen-ager in high the thirties! I..and my folks paid her standard fee...50 cents an hour. Why my parents did were concerned about my speech, I never did find out. The twister went: WITH STURDY WRISTS AND LOUDEST BOASTS, HE THRUST HIS FISTS AGAINST THE POSTS, AND STILL INSISTS HE SEES A GHOST.

Keep up the great work on the bulletin board, best to all from Mayberry --Harvey Bullock (TAGS Writer)

Was the song that Barney played on his harmonica in the loaded goat episode the same tune as the "Juanita" song?

Yes, that was the same song. It was written by Mrs. Caroline Norton. Here are the lyrics:

verse 1:
Soft o'er the fountain,
ling'ring falls the southern moon;
Far o'er the mountain,
breaks the day too soon!
In thy dark eyes splendor,
where the warm light loves to dwell,
Weary looks, yet tender,
speak their fond farewell.

Refrain 1:
Nita! Juanita! Ask they should if we should part!
NIta! Juanita! Lean though on my heart.

verse 2:
When in thy dreaming moons like these shall shine again,
And daylight beaming, prove thy dreams are vain.
Wilt thou not, relenting, for thine absent lover sigh?
In thy heart consenting to a prayer gone by.

Refrain 2:
NIta! Juanita! Let me linger by thy side!
Nita! Juanita! Be my own Fair Bride.

Thanks a bunch to Nancy Thornton for sending me that song! --Paul

In "Barney Gets His Man," Barney says, "Bread and butter." Is that line supposed to stand alone, or did they edit out something?

That scene is intact. Barney's "bread and butter" line was written as a free-standing line -- though one that's dripping with the irony that Barney is actually quite scared about encountering escaped criminal Eddie Brooke. Barney's obviously trying to convince himself that it's just a routine situation, or "bread and butter."

We also received this related note:

I'm sorry to disagree with your reply in the August Bullet regarding Barney's saying "bread and butter" in the "Barney Gets His Man" episode. This was a common expression when two people walking together walked on the opposite sides of an object. I think the scene gets such a laugh because, in spite of Barney's being so scared, he still thinks of saying "bread and butter" when he and Andy go around something.

Well, as Barney said in that same episode when Andy asked him why he wasn't saying anything, "l swallowed my gum." And boy we sure did on this one. We received a record number of letters (somewhere around 20; we quit counting) pointing out the incompleteness of our answer and how we "blew the scramez-vous."

We had said that Barney's saying "bread and butter" was funny and ironic because he was trying to treat the manhunt as routine or "bread and butter." And while that may have been a secondary meaning that the writers had in mind, surely the primary one was the fun of having Barney automatically say "bread and butter" (when he and Andy walk on opposite sides of the tree) during the intense manhunt.

Our Goober staff had always heard "peanut butter and jelly" and "salt and pepper" as expressions used when two people pass opposite sides of an object, but "bread and butter" had escaped us. And while we're on the subject, a similar instance of Barney's using a superstitious expression is when he and Doc Malloy are 'breaking out" of the Mayberry jail in Jailbreaks (Episode #50). When they both say "so far, so good" at the same time, Barney insists that they say, "Needles"/"Pins" and lock pinky fingers. (And, of course, what's hilarious is that bad guy Malloy actually complies!)

What is Don Knotts "real" name?

Don Knotts' real name is Jesse Donald Knotts. --Paul Mulik

Was there ever a mention of a deputy before Barney?

No, unless you count the pilot episode. In the pilot, Andy had deputized town drunk Will Hoople so that Will could arrest himself every time he got drunk (which happened every single day.) This, of course, was before the character of Otis joined the series in episode #2. Other episodes mention the fact that Andy has had temporary deputies, but we don't know for sure if they came BEFORE Barney. For example, Floyd tells us in episode #150 that Andy once deputized him so that he could be the color-bearer in the Veterans' Day parade. In that same episode, we learn that Goober serves as deputy every Halloween so that he can guard the cannon in the park. --Paul Mulik

On Jeopardy, one of the questions was about a fella named Duncan Phyfe who made furniture. Is this the same fella that Barney thought was his kin in #25 A Plaque for Mayberry?

Duncan Phyfe was a famous cabinet and furniture maker from the Boston area. He lived, I think, during colonial times, about 200 years ago (someone will no doubt correct me if I'm wrong.) I was watching a show on The Learning Channel awhile back. I forget the name of the show, but it's hosted by two silly guys who talk about furniture and home repair. One day, one of them said he had an old piece made by Duncan Phyfe. The other guy said he had one like it, but his was made by Barney Fife. --Paul Mulik

Barney says something like, "That kid of yours cost me $3,478 samoyas, or something that sounds similar to that. Does anyone know what Barney is saying, and what the term means? I wondered if it might be a foreign currency?

The term is "semolians," a slang term for cash. -Paul Mulik

In episode #117 The Shoplifters, Weaver's store is losing merchandice to shoplifters. When Barney and Ben are scuttling around in Weaver's store at night Barney bumps something that makes a specific and distinctive noise. Can anyone identify the source of the noise?

I believe it's a talking Bozo the Clown doll. The toy's recorded voice says "Just keep laughin'!" followed by kooky laughter. --Paul Mulik

How many times DOES ole' Barn sleep on the job?! Anyone care to name them?

Let's see: In "The Clubmen" Andy hides Barney's shoes while he sleeps in the back room. In "The Merchant of Mayberry" Barney is sleeping in a chair in front of the market. Andy puts some of Aunt Bee's lipstick on him (this scene isn't shown anymore.) In "Mountain Wedding," Andy is ready to head up to the Darlings cabin at 4 a.m., but Barney won't wake up (this scene is also cut.) In "A Deal is a Deal" Opie and his pals go to the courthouse for some legal advice, only to find Barney asleep at Andy's desk. In "The Darling Baby" Barney is asleep on a bench. Andy wakes him, and Barney claims he was not asleep, just watching traffic with his eyes scrunched up so they couldn't see him looking (yet another missing scene.) In "The Lucky Letter" Andy secretly switches hats with his sleeping deputy. In "If I Had a Quarter-Million" Barney passes out after drinking non-fat milk laced with knockout drops. This one isn't Barney's fault, of course. Then there was the time in "Sermon for Today" that Barney fell asleep on Andy's porch while they tried to decide who would go get ice cream, but they weren't on duty then. --Paul Mulik

On "Citizen's Arrest," I saw Barney puffing away on a cigarette (and trying to keep from choking!) after he incarcerated himself. I know Barney and Andy "smoke" a peace pipe in a pageant. Are there any other times Barney lights up?

In "Andy on Trial," Andy takes a cigar from Mr. J. Howard Jackson, saying that he will give it to his deputy who likes to smoke one when he's feeling "special sporty." In "If I Had a Quarter-Million," Barney walks around with an unlit 35-cent cigar in his mouth. He tells Floyd he plans on smoking about 8 of them a day. In "Barney and Thelma Lou, Pfftt!" he tells Thelma Lou that someday he would like to have a den, in which he can put his feet up and light his pipe. Apparently, he likes to smoke a pipe when he's alone. He sometimes also uses a pipe as a prop when he works in plain clothes. Ol' Barn is also seen smoking a cigar in the epilogue of "Mayberry on Record," and in "The Loaded Goat" we learn that he carries a lighter with him, which seems to indicate that he smokes regularly. --Paul Mulik

Where did Barney's girl Juanita work? I thought it was the Blue-Vue but he took her there on one episode didn't he?

The girl Barney took out to the Blue-Vue was not Juanita, but Phoebe Gilbert. This is mentioned in "The Shoplifters." Obviously, the Blue-Vue Motel had a restaurant, and this is where Barney and Phoebe went (not to the motel itself; that would have caused a scandal even worse than that time somebody accidentally ran a hot water line into the drinking fountain.) The truck stop where Juanita worked for a short time was the Junction Cafe, mentioned in #28 "Andy Forecloses." This was the first episode to mention Juanita, and the only one in which she is said to work anywhere other than The Diner. This is the same episode in which Barney hides his citation pad in his hat, in the hopes that Andy won't see Juanita's phone number (142-R) written on it. --Paul Mulik

What is Barney's middle name? In the high school reunion episode, his full name is listed as "Bernard Milton Fife" but I thought I had heard him say his name was "Bernard P. Fife."

Every time Barney ever says his full name, he says "Bernard P. Fife." Apparently, "Milton" and "Oliver" were incorrect, because we never hear Barney use those names himself. We don't know what the P stands for, but I like to think his middle name is Paul. "Bernard Paul...." has a nice sound to it, don't you think? --Paul Mulik

In the color reunion episode Barney pulls up in his new used car and says its a 60 model with a 61 grill. It looks like an Edsel to me. Was the local Ford dealer getting back at Ford for sending him a dud?

It is indeed an Edsel, but the writers goofed on the "61 grill" -- the Edsel was only manufactured from 1958 to 1960. I don't know about your "dud" theory, but you could be right. I always figured the producers wanted Barney to drive an Edsel because in some ways, Barney's own life was far from perfect (such as the way he let Thelma Lou get away and marry that out-of-towner.) --Paul

How many times does Barney say, What's the matter with you? Haven't you ever seen...?

"What's the matter with you, haven't you ever seen a person with his head in a harness before?" (Barney's Physical)

"What's the matter with you, haven't you ever seen a man take a dog for a ride?" (Dogs, Dogs, Dogs)

"What's the matter with you, didn't you ever see a man take off a dress?" (The Bank Job)

"What's the matter with you, didn't you ever see a man drinking a cup of coffee before?" (Barney on the Rebound)

How many times did Barney accidentally fire his gun?

Number of times Barney accidentally fired his pistol: 11

3 into courthouse floor: epilogue of "The Big House" after Gomer breaks glass in bookcase; at the end of his speech to the three deputies in "Guest of Honor;" and beginning of "Andy and the Gentleman Crook."

1 into courthouse ceiling: beginning of "A Medal for Opie"

2 into the air: before actual start of race in "A Medal for Opie" -- don't remember a second time

1 into Andy's front porch: while demonstrating gun safety to Tray Bowden in "Andy and Opie's Pal"

1 into a rear tire of squad car: epilogue of "Lawman Barney"

1 into the side of Andy's desk in "The Inspector"

1 into the ground in epilogue of "The Perfect Female"

1 through the seat of his pants in "If I Had a Quarter-Million" (in Barney's bedroom, if I recall)

-- Paul Mulik

I was just wondering how many times Barney or Andy refered to each other as cousin? I can only think of 3.

You're exactly right. The three episodes are "The New Housekeeper," "The Manhunt," and "Runaway Kid." All are from very early in the first season; their relationship was never mentioned later. They might be distant cousins, but if they are FIRST cousins, then Andy's mother must be the sister of Barney's father. I know, I know, and I figured it out by simple logic. Let's look at the four possibilities:

A: Andy's father is the brother of Barney's father
2: Andy's father is the brother of Barney's mother
C: Andy's mother is the sister of Barney's father IV: Andy's mother is the sister of Barney's mother First Clue: ':
Barney often refers to his "mother's side of the family," as if Andy does not know any of them. For example, Barney's Cousin Virgil is from his mother's side (Virgil is not Andy's cousin). So, we can rule out 2 and IV.
Second Clue: Their fathers could not have been brothers, or Andy and Barney would have the same last name. This rules out A, leaving C as the only possible answer. In the words of Sherlock Holmes, once you have eliminated the impossible, then whatever remains, however improbably, must be the truth.
Third Clue: We learn in "Aunt Bee's Invisible Beau" that Aunt Bee is not Barney's aunt (he just calls her "Aunt Bee" out of affection, like almost everybody else in town who is younger than she).

Aunt Bee must be related to Andy's father (not his mother) or her last name wouldn't be Taylor. This is further evidence that Andy's mother must be involved.

What is Barney Fife's shoe size?

Barney's shoe size is 7 and 1/2 B.