Ted Knight

Active - 1960 - 2015  |   Born - Dec 7, 1923 in Terryville, Connecticut, United States  |   Died - Aug 26, 1986   |   Genres - Comedy, Crime, Drama, Western

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Actor Ted Knight dropped out of high school in order to enlist for World War II service. During the postwar years, Knight studied acting in Hartford, Connecticut. He became proficient with puppets and ventriloquism, which led to steady work as a TV kiddie-show host. Knight spent most of the 1950s and 1960s doing commercial voice-overs and essaying minor TV and movie roles (he was the nonspeaking cop who handed Norman Bates a robe at the end of Hitchcock's Psycho [1960]). Just barely making ends meet with TV guest spots and cartoon voices, Knight was rescued professionally in 1970 when he was cast in the role of vainglorious TV anchorman Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Three years into the series, Knight threatened to quit because of the one-note stupidity of his character. He was assuaged when the MTM producers "humanized" him with an understanding girlfriend (played by Georgia Engel) -- and it didn't hurt that the actor later won two Emmy awards for his portrayal of the clueless Ted Baxter. When MTM left the air in 1977, Knight attempted to headline a sitcom of his own. After a couple of false starts, he struck pay dirt in 1980 with Too Close for Comfort, playing a comic-strip artist with two nubile daughters. Too Close left the network for syndication in 1984, then matriculated into The Ted Knight Show in 1985. Though gravely ill, Ted Knight valiantly taped a years' worth of episodes before succumbing to cancer at the age of 62.

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  • Earned five Bronze Stars for bravery during WWII.
  • Performed as a ventriloquist and a puppeteer early in his career.
  • Worked at the ABC affiliate in Albany, NY, in the 1950s. His tasks included introducing Western movies as a character called Windy Knight and hosting a morning-news program.
  • Had a bit part as a prison guard near the end of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960).
  • Known for wearing college sweatshirts on his TV series Too Close for Comfort, many of which were sent by college viewers.
  • Has a bridge dedicated to him in his hometown of Terryville, CT.