The rubber-faced, shiver-voiced actor died at age 81 on Friday, his passing announced by TV Land, which is how it should be. His five Emmies marked a career of prime-time cheese that spanned a quarter century, and enjoyed a glowing afterlife in odd-hour re-runs. We should turn off our sets for a minute to mark the passing of a giant.
There is not a stage of my life when Don Knotts could not be seen, reminding us that it was not necessary to be competent to be cool, whether he was fumbling with his service revolver as Deputy Barney Fife in The Andy Griffith Show, fumbling with his ascot as the lecherous replacement landlord in Three's Company, or fumbling with his conscience in the half-animated film The Incredible Mr. Limpet, where - turned into a Nazi-hunting fish - he approaches the spawning grounds and wonders if this would technically constitute cheating on his wife.
One shouldn't forget his appearance in the film Pleasantville, where his appearance as a mystical television repairman "rocks the meta," in the words of a mourning commenter at A List of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago.