Don Knotts was not the only Don Knotts in his high school

The other Don Knotts caused confusion amongst his classmates years later.

You think you would remember a thing like serving alongside Barney Fife in the war. But decades later, memory can be fuzzy. This is why, in 1988, a man named only as J.S. from Idaho Falls wrote to Hollywood gossip columnist Dick Kleiner and asked this:

"Dear Dick: Can you tell me if Don Knotts of TV and movie fame is the same Don Knotts I served with back in the Navy in '43. We were at Kiska in the Aleutians. This Don Knotts was from Morgantown, W.V."

Well, Don Knotts of The Andy Griffith Show was from Morgantown! The city even erected a bronze statue of its most famous son. But this could not have been that Don Knotts. Why? The Barney Fife actor had served in the Army, not the Navy. So what gives?

Six whole months later, a feller named Don Knotts from Morgantown wrote to Dick Kleiner and cleared up the matter:

"I am the Don Knotts who served in the Navy in '43 in the Aleutians. And, curiously, I went through high school with the other Don Knotts in Morgantown, W. Va.. Everyone called him 'Little Don' and me 'Big Don.' Thought you'd like to know."

Oh, how we do like to know! The knock-kneed Don Knotts of Hollywood fame was called "Little Don" as a teenager? That makes sense. But what else is there to know about "Big Don"? We were curious. In fact, we think we found him.

Not too long ago, a vintage 1940 Morgantown High School yearbook went up for auction online. This edition of the "Mohigan" yearbook featured a signature from "Don Knotts" and the name "Don" scribbled next to a photo of a Don Knotts. The other one, seemingly. You see, this was the 1940 Yearbook, and the page is clearly members of the junior class. The famous Don Knotts graduated MHS in 1942. 

Worthpoint''Don'' in the 1940 MHS yearbook.

Comparing the signature (this other Don charmingly wrote, "Remember the Scout Dance") in the yearbook to an autograph by Don Knotts shows differences. The famous Knotts crossed both of the T's in his name with a single, quick swoop. This John Hancock does not have that.

The same young man can be seen in the 1941 Mohigan yearbook. Here, he is now a senior. (Remember, famous Don graduated in '42.) And just in case you were still thinking this is Barney Fife, look at the fine print. It says this "Donald Knotts" lettered in football for three years. Can you imagine scrawny "Little Don" playing football?

Look at "Little Don" rehearsing a play in high school. Now, look at some Morgantown High School football highlights from around the same time. Yeah, we can't see Mayberry's Knotts on that field. No disrespect.

But all this makes us wonder — could anyone confuse "Little Don" with "Big Don"? Perhaps it was just wishful thinking.

To be fair, it is pretty odd that two different Don Knotts went to school together in West Virginia!

"I wish you let me — and the rest of us — know if you and 'Little Don' were related," Dick Kleiner responded in his column. We're assuming they were not. That seems like something Big Don would have bragged about.

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Steve2021 32 months ago
I can relate the two same names in high school, I too had that happen to me.
F5Twitster 34 months ago
“To be fair, it is pretty odd that two different Don Knotts went to school together in West Virginia!”

That’s two different Don KnottsES.
TownOfMayberry 34 months ago
“‘Rifle Fife’ is what they used to call me in high school.” Said Barney to Opie.
Andybandit 34 months ago
Wow, this story is interesting. Nobody's full name was Donald Knotts
tmac1951 34 months ago
I’ll bet they come up with a connection to Monk somehow in a future article
ETristanBooth 34 months ago
The TV Don Knotts was Jesse Don Knotts, but he didn’t like the name Jesse. I knew his nephew whose name was Don Knotts. I don’t know about the other guy you are referencing.
justjeff 34 months ago
When I was a senior in high school, there was a 10th grader with the same name as mine. Needless to say, I was called down to the office on a couple of occasions and once they realized it was "the other Jeff", they'd tell me to forget about it and go back to class...

Years later, I found my name ws also that of a famous studio musician and a news reporter. What's in a name? Obviously, more money in their bank accounts than in mine...
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JeffPaul76 justjeff 34 months ago
I like it very much! It shows a lot of artistic talent!! From back in 1913 and now in 2021.
justjeff JeffPaul76 34 months ago
Thanks for the kind words!
justjeff JeffPaul76 34 months ago
Here's font #1852 - based on hand lettering from a 1930s Pennsylvania Railroad travel poster...
justjeff justjeff 33 months ago
... and #1853, inspired by another hand lettered railroad travel poster...
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