As you may have heard by now, comic actor Don Knotts died Friday night at the age of 81. Don Knotts was one of those actors who appeared in a handful of movies that I used to watch as a kid, and therefore he was always a big star in my eyes. Some of his films are among my favorites off all time!
Starting with Gus (1976). Don Knotts stars along side Ed Asner as football coaches for the worst team in the NFL, The Atoms. While scouting new talent, the team finds a mule that can kick a football very far. They use him as a half time show to draw more crowds, but it isn't until they make the mule a member of the team that the crowds start to pack the stands. Doesn't that sound great!?? It's such a good movie! And it has Tom Bosley and Tim Conway as two con-men trying to kidnap the mule for an opposing team, plus a great cameo by home video pioneer Bob Crane. Of course there is also plenty of Don Knotts looking surprised and bewildered at the sight of a mule playing football. Great Film! Great Film! My favorite sports film of all time!
The other simply fantastic movie staring Don Knotts is The Private Eyes (1981). This is another one of the six movies Don Knotts and Tim Conway made together. Here they are spoofing Sherlock Holmes in Abbott and Costello fashion as they investigate a murder at the Biltmore Estate in South Carolina. It's just great slap stick from start to finish...both Knotts and Conway are in top form.
There's six more films I want to mention real quick, before you run out to the video store! Don Knotts and Tim Conway's most famous pairing is in the fantastic 1975 Disney film The Apple Dumpling Gang and it's sequel from 1979, The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again.
They appeared together for the last time in a classic scene in Cannonball Run II (1984) where they played police officers who pull over an orangutan driving a limo. I'm chuckling to myself just thinking about it right now!
And finally, two more great Disney comedies that I saw a million times when I was younger, and still love them both: the comedy-western Hot Lead & Cold Feet (1978) and the third film in The Love Bug series: Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977).
Mr. Knotts last screen performance was also for Disney as the voice of Mayor Turkey Lurkey in last year's CGI comedy Chicken Little.
Now go out, stock up on some videos and you can thank me tomorrow!