Today is Friday, March 3, 2006. Expect mostly sunny skies today and a high of around 57. On this day in history:
1817-The Mississippi Territory is divided into the Alabama Territory and Mississippi.
1845-Florida becomes the 27th US state.
1849-Congress establishes the United States Department of the Interior.
1887-Anne Sullivan begins teaching a new student, 6-year-old Helen Keller.
1923-The first issue of Time magazine is published.
1931- "The Star Spangled Banner" becomes the official national anthem for the United States.
1955-Elvis Presley makes his first television appearance on "Louisiana Hayride."
1965- "The Sound of Music" premieres in American theaters.
1991-Riots break out in Los Angeles over the Rodney King incident.
People celebrating birthdays today include: rapper Tone Loc is 40; former Georgia running back Herschel Walker is 44; Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee is 44; actor Tim Kazurinsky is 56; and former pro football player Dennis Shaw is 59.
DON KNOTTS 1924-2006
Mayberry, North Carolina, lost one of its most beloved citizens with the passing away of Don Knotts, better known as Deputy Barney Fife. While Knotts was a star of stage, screen, and other television shows, he is best known for his role as the bumbling and transparent Barney Fife on "The Andy Griffith Show." He appeared in 141 of the series' 249 episodes and won five Emmys for his work. If you have read this column for any length of time, you know I am a huge fan of "The Andy Griffith Show" and today's column is a tribute to the one and only Don Knotts.
NOT AT FIRST
Sheldon Leonard, the creator of "The Andy Griffith Show," did not really envision the character of Barney Fife lasting more than one or two episodes. The very first episode of the show portrayed Barney as Andy's cousin. Leonard said that after watching the footage from episode one he knew that they needed to sign Knotts to a long-term deal.
While Barney had his classic moments in the first year of episodes, his character really took off in year two due to one small change. Andy Griffith decided that his character needed to be more of a straight man to the comic genius of Don Knotts.