Don Knotts, instantly recognizable from his multi-year runs as the jittery but lovable Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show and the desperately uncool Mr. Furley on Three's Company, died Friday night in a California hospital. Over the course of a career that spanned more than half a century, Knotts appeared in multiple television series and over two dozen films, usually as nerdy, high strung characters whose mannerisms were vastly different from those of the shy, soft-spoken actor. His best-known films include The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Shakiest Gun in the West, and The Incredible Mr. Limpet, all of which, at their cores, are warm, family films in which the shy, awkward Knotts wins the love of a girl who "can see through his nervousness to the heart of gold."
Even as he moved into old age, Knotts showed no interest in retiring, and instead continued to energetically pursue his acting career. In just the past few years, he did voice work for Chicken Little and multiple television shows, and appeared in touring stage productions and advertising campaigns. He died at 81 after dealing for more than a year with unspecified health concerns.