‘Don Knotts: Tied Up with Laughter’ DVD unearths vintage ‘Hollywood Palace’ skits
Don Knotts remains a beloved comic genius who sculpted two characters still heavily seen in reruns — the child-like, emotion-on-his-sleeve “Barney Fife” on The Andy Griffith Show and the loudly dressed, perpetually confused Ralph Furley on Three’s Company.
And lest we forget — Knotts’ movie roles in funny films like The Incredible Mr. Limpet, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Shakiest Gun in the West, The Apple Dumpling Gang, Hot Lead and Cold Feet, and Pleasantville.
Knotts did his fair share of musical variety programs like The Flip Wilson Show and The Sonny and Cher Show. A DVD compilation sampling rare comedy and musical skits and stand-up routines from The Hollywood Palace has finally hit the market. Entitled Don Knotts: Tied Up with Laughter, the one-hour DVD comes mostly from Knotts’ January 31, 1970, guest hosted episode.
Many folks may not remember The Hollywood Palace, but it was a Saturday night one-hour variety show that ran on ABC. No season by season DVDs have been released, which is a shame, as virtually all of the big Hollywood stars of the era turned up there at some point, including the Rolling Stones, Dean Martin, Bette Davis, John Wayne, and the Three Stooges.
MPI Video, a successful independent home video producer-distributor headquartered in Chicago, is spear-heading the project. MPI released the revered “lost episodes” of The Honeymooners, various Beatles projects like A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, and John Wayne’s star-studded Tribute to America.
Tied Up with Laughter is part of MPI’s Comic Legends Series, which includes Phyllis Diller, Tim Conway, and Dick Van Dyke. In correspondence with the project’s producer, Jim Pierson, he called the DVD a “fun time capsule of comedy.”
In this special comedy collection, the bug-eyed funnyman is joined by actress Jane Powell of musical powerhouse Seven Brides for Seven Brothers fame, comic Jack Burns — he ironically tried and failed to fill Knotts’ boots as the short-lived “Deputy Warren Ferguson” in Mayberry — The Love God? costar Maureen Arthur, ubiquitous ’60s singer-actress Joey Heatherton, and former Dallas Cowboys player and Heatherton’s then-husband Lance Rentzel.
Some of the best moments arrive when Knotts sings with Jimmy Durante in a memorable scene and later when he performs his legendary “nervous man” skit. Bonus material includes the comedian’s only appearance with Lucille Ball in a Jan. 8, 1973, appearance on her sitcom Here’s Lucy.
Pierson stated that Tied Up with Laughter is a one-time DVD, and no further Knotts projects are in the works. Knotts did at least two 60-minute musical variety programs with Griffith for CBS — 1965’s The Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, and Jim Nabors Show and 1967’s The Don Knotts Special.
Pierson reveals, “Both specials with Andy are lost — otherwise they would be released. Andy was upset to discover this, too. Old variety shows shot on videotape that never were rerun or syndicated later were often lost or tossed. Filmed shows were generally safe as negatives almost always kept as well as distribution prints. Andy had a couple of early ’70s sitcoms, and those were filmed and are fine, but never seen.”
Knotts did indeed guest as Barney Fife in one episode of The New Andy Griffith Show in January 1971, and it’s such a shame that this performance hasn’t been released on video. Knotts also had a short-lived variety series which he played a significant role writing and producing that same year on NBC called The Don Knotts Show. Pierson admitted, “It would be nice to do the Knotts’ variety series, too, but music licensing is expensive.”
So check out Don Knotts: Tied Up with Laughter. Perhaps if enough fans buy it [less than $12 on Amazon], it will clear the way for more of the talented comedian’s variety show work to see the light of day.
[Author’s Note: Reprising Sheriff Andy Taylor and Barney Fife, the archetypal comedy duo sing about friendship, ill-advisedly demonstrate firearm and judo safety procedures, and tug at heartstrings in a 1965 color variety special skit not seen in 50 years. Head on over to “Long-Lost Video of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts Performing Classic Skit Surfaces” for the complete lowdown. It proves that the actors were masters of comedic timing and relished performing together in front of a live audience. The Southerners later collaborated in a funny yet touching 1967 episode, “Barney Comes to Mayberry,” that landed Knotts his fifth and final Emmy].
Mayberry blood brothers: The light and darkness of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts
“Andy & Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show” biographer Daniel de Visé furnishes a panoramic…
Aunt Bee’s astounding wedding RSVP
Three Stooges expert Scott Reboul brazenly mailed reclusive “Andy Griffith Show” alum Frances Bavier a 1988 wedding…
The 50th anniversary of Andy Griffith’s ‘Angel in My Pocket’ and still no official remaster in…
The 1969 comedy-drama for Universal was the first project Andy Griffith tackled after willingly abdicating his number…
A Mayberry minute with ‘Andy Griffith Show’ alum Rodney Dillard
“Relax, slow down, take it easy…what’s your hurry?” Guest preacher Dr. Harrison Everett Breen of New York City…
Dadvice from a globe-trotting preacher and a Mayberry sheriff
Get the scoop on love, sacrifice, honesty, and more homespun wisdom for fathers courtesy of Andy Griffith of Mayberry…
I’m a victim of soicumstance! Keeping up with the Three Stooges on AMC and IFC
Ever tune into AMC or IFC and wonder why 80-year-old black and white short films starring the Three Stooges have you…
Peter Fonda looks back on father’s iconic performance in Sidney Lumet’s ‘12 Angry Men’
Peter Fonda on director Sidney Lumet’s “12 Angry Men” and the unstoppable fierceness which his father Henry Fonda had…
Heart to heart with ‘Two and a Half Men’ outsider Jennifer Taylor
In her most expansive interview, Charlie Sheen’s former TV fiancé talks #MeToo, bad auditions, God, love, healthy…
© Jeremy Roberts, 2011, 2017. All rights reserved. To touch base, email email@example.com and mention which story led you my way. I appreciate it.