This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.
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MEMORIES OF DON KNOTTS ON THE B-BAR-B
by Jack French
(From Radio Recall, April 2006)
A beloved bumbler on TV and in the movies, Don Knotts died on February 24th at the age of 81. He had been featured in seven different television series, 25 motion pictures, and won five Emmy’s. But to most OTR fans, he will always be remembered as “Windy Wales” on Mutual’s Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B Riders. In researching this radio series for nearly 20 years, I’ve gleaned many observations about Don from the people he worked with on that program. Here’s some of my favorites...
Jim Shean (primary writer on the series) "After a while, writing these standard juvenile adventures got a little stale for me so I made a deal with Bob Novak (director) that every third episode would be a comedy.
Of course, Don had the actual lead in every one of these humorous episodes and he was marvelous."
Bob Novak (Director) "Don was very nervous about his health all the time so he bought all sorts of medicines, pills, and lotions. He used to take the subway home after the show with announcer Carl Warren. One night, Don spotted a sale on large bottles of cod-liver oil in a store they passed on the way to the train so he went in, bought a bottle, and continued walking to the subway. Unfortunately, the crowd there jostled Don, he dropped his bottle, and it broke on the floor of the car, releasing a foul odor of dead fish. Most of the other passengers changed cars at the next stop. Carl lasted one more stop and made an excuse to exit, leaving a forlorn Don alone in that smelly car, all the way home to his stop."
Clive Rice (Mutual's last Bobby Benson) "Don was a great guy and a joy to work with, in the WOR studios and on our personal appearance tours. Years later I was delighted at his success on Andy Griffith's show in the 1960s. Even later, I got a kick out of seeing him appearing with Andy again on TV's Matlock."
Don Knotts (in Nov 1993 phone conversation with me, responding to the question: Why did you leave radio?") "Heck, I didn't leave radio... radio left me. In the mid-50s, our radio jobs just disappeared so I turned to Broadway and TV."