Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Actor Don Knotts once served as a drill instructor in the U.S. Marines.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2003]
Origins: Positing improbable military backgrounds for popular entertainment figures is a common urban legend motif these days. Such tales don't merely put stars in uniform as ordinary servicemen
Another legend of this ilk casts Don Knotts, best known as the bumbling deputy sheriff Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show and the pop-eyed, leisure-suited landlord Ralph Furley on Three's Company, as not just the unlikeliest serviceman since Gomer Pyle, but as the toughest and most fearsome of all military figures: a
The only connection between legend and real life in this case is that Don Knotts did serve in the military. Born the youngest of four brothers in Morgantown, West Virginia, in 1924, young Don Knotts embarked on an entertainment career by performing as a ventriloquist at local venues; after high school he tried a brief stint in New York City and took a stab at attending West Virginia University before being drafted by the Army in
Why so many rumors about entertainers as military figures? The prevalence of this legend type can probably be attributed to the appeal of imagining popular stars as the polar opposites of their on-stage personas: Just as we're intrigued by the notion that macabre rocker
Last updated: 6 August 2007
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