Don Knotts’ daughter pays tribute to father in Milton

Karen Knotts' show about her father, Don Knotts, plays The Milton Theatre tonight. "Tied Up in Knotts" starts at 8 p.m. (Submitted photo)

Karen Knotts’ show about her father, Don Knotts, plays The Milton Theatre tonight. “Tied Up in Knotts” starts at 8 p.m. (Submitted photo)

Throughout her entire life, people have asked Karen Knotts questions about her famous father. And when that famous person turns out to be comedy legend Don Knotts, it’s pretty understandable why.

“They always want to hear stories about ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ or how he got the part on ‘Three’s Company.’ So many people have been fascinated with him and still are,” she said by phone this week from California.

So toward the end of his life, she got the idea for the one-woman show “Tied Up in Knotts,” which plays The Milton Theatre tonight.

The show combines video clips, photos, stories and her performing characterizations of folks who made an impact on both of their lives.

“Before my father passed away (in 2006), he knew I was going to do this. There were so many stories that he told us as kids that I wanted to share. It became a way to keep him alive for me,” the 62-year-old Ms. Knotts said.

Best Bets logo -NEW“I began writing down as much as I could remember. My brother has a better memory than me so I talked to him and I talked to my mom. I’m now working on a book because there’s so much more than will fit in a two-hour show. It’s really become my mission in life.”

She rolled out the show about eight years ago and says she’s been “amazed at the audience reaction.”

“I never knew if it was a great show or not,” she said of the early days.

“But it’s been so gratifying from the start with people thanking me for bringing the show to their town and coming up to me to tell me stories about meeting my father and telling me how gracious and kind he was.”

Going around the country has also brought more stories to her.

“I was doing the show one time in Florida and met a man who did shows in the Army with my dad,” she recalled.

“So I got a chance to sit down and talk to him about their adventures together. It was really an amazing opportunity.”

The material from which she can draw is vast.

“He had so many reincarnations of his career. He started in live TV and became a big star as the nervous guy with Steve Allen. Then you have ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ his movies and ‘Three’s Company,’ ” Ms. Knotts said.

She said the show is always changing.

“I’ll come across a new video clip and think ‘I have to put that in there’ and that will spur a new story,” she said.

“These days, the changes aren’t as big as they once were. I think I have a core that works well.”

Although her father was in a glamorous field of work, he was just Dad to her and she strives to convey that in the show.

“I tell the story of his life and the story of mine where it’s appropriate. It has its show business stories but it’s

Karen Knotts' first television appearance was on her father's 1970 variety show. (Submitted photo)

Karen Knotts’ first television appearance was on her father’s 1970 variety show. (Submitted photo)

poignant too. He was an incredible superstar but he was this humble person too,” she said.

“I remember when I was first going to Beverly Hills High School and you get put into this pond with the children of rich and famous celebrities. And here I was just the daughter of Barney Fife. I always thought they were more popular than I was.”

Along with the family side, those questions that everyone has asked over the years are answered in the show.

“I was a child when he was on ‘Andy Griffith’ and I spent a great deal of time on the set so I tell a lot of back stories about those years,” she said.

Many of the characters that Mr. Knotts played were a variation on the nervous Barney Fife character. Ms. Knotts said her father never seemed to mind being typecast.

“He was always grateful for the work,” she recalled.

“That was his meal ticket. Actors are always so insecure and he was very much so. They are always thinking they are never going to work again. But that character was so relatable and so funny. He was known and loved for that and never complained.”

A slight departure came when he played landlord Ralph Furley on the ABC hit comedy “Three’s Company.”

Ms. Knotts said he loved playing the role, which still drew comparisons to Barney.

“He was very close to John Ritter and they became friends. He never knew what outlandish outfit he was going to wear from week to week until they taped the show that day. He always had fun with that,” she said.

“Plus it was the first time he did a show that was taped in front of a live audience. So he crossed that boundary.”

Ms. Knotts followed her father into show business as she turned to acting, writing and standup comedy. She says her father was slow to approve of her choice.

“He wasn’t real happy about it at first. He knew a lot of people who did not make it in show business and it didn’t matter who they were related to,” she said.

“It’s a chancy business but he knew I was dedicated to it and he took me on the road to places like Kansas City and Michigan where he would perform.

“I wanted to be a child actress. But he said no. That’s a whole different thing and looking back, I am glad I had a normal childhood.”

Tickets for tonight’s show at 8 range from $15 to $25 with VIP seating available.

To purchase them, visit www.miltontheatre.com or call (302) 684.-3038. The Milton Theatre is at 110 Union St.

Ms. Knotts says she thinks her dad would approve of the show.

“I think he’d be amazed and also impressed by the way I put it together. It’s a great way to pay tribute to my dad. It’s about the man that people want to believe he really was and they can feel good in knowing that he was that way. So it’s great for everyone.”

Sinatra show in Milton

Staying in Milton, Sean Reilly and the Sinatra Centennial Orchestra, under the direction of pianist David Zipse, will be returning to The Milton Theatre Saturday at 7 p.m.

Mr. Reilly and his band had a successful 2015, having recorded a CD, and performed up and down the state, including a very-attended show at Dover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts on what would have been Mr. Sinatra’s 100th birthday in December.

They premiered their show at the Milton Theater last July and had a return engagement over the Labor Day weekend, which sold out a week in advance.

For information and tickets ($25 each), call The Milton Theater at (302) 684-3038 or visit http://www.pcade.com.

The show will also return to the Baby Grand, 818 N. Market St. in Wilmington on Sunday, Nov. 6 for two shows, at 2 and 7 p.m.

For information and tickets ($27 each), call the box office at 302-652-5577 or visit thegrandwilmington.org.

‘Goodies and Goblins’

The Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village will host “Goodies and Goblins” sponsored by the Dover Kiwanis on Saturday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The event will feature trick-or-treating in the 1890s village and a costume contest.

The costume contest judging will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. with winners announced and prizes awarded at 6:15 p.m.

Children will be judged in two categories: ages 6 and younger and ages 7 and older. Prizes for scariest, cutest, funniest, most original and best group will be awarded.

Complimentary refreshments provided by the Dover Kiwanis will also be available.

Admission is $1 for ages 1 and older.

The event will be held at the agriculture museum, 866 N. DuPont Highway in Dover.

Visit www.agriculturalmuseum.org for additional information.

‘Poe’ at Smyrna Opera House

You can start the Halloween fun tonight at the Smyrna Opera House with “A Terrifyingly Good Time: An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe.” The program begins at 7:30.

The works of Edgar Allan Poe will be read during the performance.

A cash bar will be available as well as complimentary refreshments provided by the Smyrna Opera House Guild.

Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 for SOH members, senior citizens, and military, and $5 for children younger than 12. Due to the nature of some of the stories, this event is not recommended for children younger than 10.

This event will serve as a fundraiser for the Smyrna-Clayton Heritage Association John W. Dickinson Memorial Scholarship Fund.

To purchase tickets, visit smyrnaoperahouse.com, call 653-4236 or visit the box office at 7 W. South St.

Now showing

New in theaters this weekend is Tom Cruise in the action sequel “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” another in the comedy series “Boo! A Medea Halloween,” the comedy “Keeping Up With the Joneses” and the thriller “Ouija: Origin of Evil.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday are the thrillers “Lights Out” and “Nerve” and Eddie Murphy in the drama “Mr. Church.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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