Dedicated in 2016, this statue commemorates the life and career of Don Knotts, an actor and comedian from Morgantown who is known best for his portrayal of Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show from 1960-1968. Knotts also starred in films like The Ghost, and Mr. Chicken and The Shakiest Gun in the West. His career and legacy influenced many other comedians and he was a beloved figure among his fellow West Virginians for both his success in Hollywood and the way that success did not change the kind and open person who was raised here.
Knotts became interested in acting right while in school and first performed as comedian within some of the local churches of this area. Knotts went to New York City in hopes of landing a career as a comedian, but soon returned home and attended West Virginia University. After a year in college, Knotts joined the army. During WWII, the aspiring comedian was able to practice his trade touring the Pacific as part of the GI variety show The Stars in Stripes.
graduated college in 1948 and returned to New York City. With his experience in the army and entertaining troops, he was more successful and soon found jobs appearing on a variety of radio and television programs. In 1955, Knotts made his Broadway debut and was introduced to future co-star Andy Griffith in No Time
for Sergeants, a theatrical production that was later produced as a movie.
joined Griffith again in 1960 for the first episode of the Andy Griffith Show. Playing the role of hapless but eager deputy Barney Fife, Knotts won three Emmy Awards for outstanding performance in a
supporting role in a TV series. After contracting lung disease, Knotts passed away on February 21, 2006. The beloved actor was survived by his two children from his first
Efforts to construct a statue to honor Knotts began in 2006 when local residents started raising funds. The statue is located at Morgantown's Metropolitan Theater where Knotts performed as a boy. Sculptor Jamie Lester made it his goal to capture the warmth of the local comedian and the statue also depicts Knotts holding Barney
Fifes hat while a prop from The Ghost and Mr. Chicken can also be seen in the work. Fans, friends, and local residents attended the statue's dedication in 2016 and the statue was unveiled by the late comedian's daughter Karen Knotts.
In 1998, South University Avenue was renamed Don
Knotts Boulevard in honor of the comedians 74th birthday. The effort to rename the road began with Monongalia County Commissioner John Pyles initiated the campaign to change the name of the roadway
after watching the reruns of the Andy Griffith Show.