February 28th, 2007
The Dominion Post, February 27, 2007
By Michelle Wolford
The Dominion Post
Don Knotts’ alma mater may soon be the home of much of the actor’s memorabilia.
Francey Yarborough, Knotts’ widow, is donating her husband’s scripts from his movies and some TV shows to WVU.
Yarborough plans to send all “the stuff” from Don’s career—including radio, movies and some of his TV work, to Morgantown.
His mementos from “The Andy Griffith Show” will go to Emmett Forrest, a friend of Andy Griffith’s who has a large collection of memorabilia from the program. That collection is housed in Mount Airy, N.C., Griffith’s hometown.
“A lot of places were interested in Don’s scripts for his movies and plays,” Yarborough said, “but I wanted to give them to West Virginia University, because Don himself decided to send three of his best scripts to WVU not long before he passed away, so I am following his lead in this.”
“Don really learned how to act in theater at WVU,” she said. “He wanted to study drama, but they didn’t offer a drama degree back then, so he settled for English. But acting was still his focus. WVU is the place he learned to act. He never took acting lessons except what he learned at WVU.”
Yarborough said she’s sent the script Knotts used for “The Man Who Came to Dinner” to the university, along with tapes he made while working on “Barney Fife and Other Characters I’ve Know.” Also on its way to WVU is Knotts’ only original poem, “The Man.” The poem was read at the actor’s funeral.
Also coming to WVU: Knotts’ script from “The Apple Dumpling Gang.”
Yarborough said Knotts sent the university his scripts for “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken,” “The Shakiest Gun in the West” and “The Reluctant Astronaut” shortly before his death.
John Cuthbert, curator and director of the West Virginia Regional History Collection at
WVU’s Wise Library, said he’s delighted to learn that more is coming from Knotts’ collection.
“Before he passed away, Don indicated a desire to leave many of his personal papers to his alma mater,” Cuthbert said. “Around that time he sent one small package containing some theatrical scripts.
“Last week, we were thrilled to receive a second shipment from the estate, which we hope will be the first of many future gifts.
“I think he is one of the foremost figures in his trade and one of the great West Virginians of all time,” he said. “It’s fitting that his legacy be preserved here in his home state and his hometown.”