Knotts discovered acting in 1952, while serving a seven-year stretch in San Quentin for impaling a man on a street sign during a drunken rampage. "I was goin' through some bad times in my life back then," he said in a 1984 interview, "and aside from th' cocaine, acting was just about th' only thing I ever found that could soothe th' seething fury within me."
After leaving prison, he found work in a summer stock company, where he was discovered by the producers of The Andy Griffith Show while playing Curly in a production of Of Mice and Men. He portrayed lovable Deputy Barney Fife for five seasons before leaving the show under controversy, having reportedly threatened to tear out young Ron Howard's heart with his bare hands and eat it raw if the child actor interfered with his blocking one more time. The knife and gun Fife was said to carry in his duty as a Mayberry sheriff's deputy were inspired by the real weapons that Knotts carried with him off-set at all times.
Knotts went on to a series of successful big-screen comedies and infamous run-ins with Hollywood police, including the 1964 "Mr. Limpet Massacre" that put five officers in a hospital with multiple broken bones. In the 1970s, following his failed stint as the host of Merv Griffith's Questions and Beatdowns game show, he made a successful comeback as Detective Fish on Three's Company; co-star Suzanne Sommers later recalled that Knotts possessed a "terrifying animal magnetism" and demanded absolute quiet on the set during all of his scenes.
Knotts passed away in early 2006, from injuries sustained in a bare-knuckle pay-per-view fight with a starving Kodiak grizzly bear in Jellystone National Park. With his dying breath, he dictated the epitaph now carved on his tombstone: "I still beat the furry sunnuvabitch into hot-dog filler."
Due to the massive amount of money he made in show business, Knotts was able to build a gigantic southern California theme park with his testicles as its theme. Despite competition from Disney theme parks, Knotts' Berry Farm is still a favorite family attraction. Its huge roller-coaster ride, The Coaster and Mr. Chicken, is beloved by roller-coaster enthusiasts everywhere.