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New knot in the saga of a Barney Fife statue

July 17, 2006|Associated Press

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — An unfinished statue of Barney Fife apparently won't be heading to Don Knotts' hometown after all.

Knotts' widow endorses a statue but says it should be of her husband, not of the bumbling deputy he made famous on "The Andy Griffith Show." Knotts died in February at 81.

"We consider the dissemination of his image to be a big responsibility that we take very seriously," Francey Knotts and Andy Griffith said in a statement. "No one cares more about Don's image than we do. It would be wonderful to have a statue in Morgantown, W.Va., of Don Knotts as Don Knotts.

"But this particular image does not fit with our understanding of Don's experience growing up in Morgantown."

Efforts to get a Fife statue in Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, N.C., which was used as the model for fictional Mayberry, have been unsuccessful.

Mount Airy resident Tom Hellebrand commissioned the statue after Knotts' death. The work was halted after Paramount/CBS, which owns the rights to the show, withdrew permission. The company said it didn't have the authority to give permission for a likeness.

Hellebrand then offered the half-finished work to anyone who could obtain permission from the company, the Knotts family and Griffith. Mount Airy already has a statue of Griffith in character as Sheriff Andy Taylor walking with his son, Opie, who was played by Ron Howard.

Morgantown Mayor Ron Justice said any monument to Knotts should be in the town and should reflect Knotts' accomplishments.

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