Here's what the entertainment world will miss about the bumbling comedic icon

By Ron Howard
Updated December 22, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

Ron Howard remembers Don Knotts

JULY 21, 1924-FEB. 24, 2006

Outside of his loving family, I’m sure that Andy Griffith was Don Knotts’ greatest fan. When I summon up memories of working with Don on The Andy Griffith Show, the first images are of Andy laughing and reveling in Don’s genius. Don had been funny before the show and sustained his comedy superstardom later in movies and on TV. But I will always remember the transformation that would begin as mild-mannered Don rehearsed his scene, tweaked the dialogue, refined the timing — and then took off and soared as cameras rolled. The only question: Could Andy keep from falling out of his chair laughing in the middle of the take? Nine times out of 10, Andy, the consummate pro, held on until the director yelled ”Cut!” and he and the rest of us could finally release the pressure valve and let the laughter out. On the rare times when Andy would blow the take, he was always forgiven — even by Don, who knew deep down there was plenty more comedy where that came from. (Knotts died of lung cancer in L.A.)