Daniel de Visé is the author of Andy & Don, a book that chronicles the lives and friendship of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts. De Visé, who is Don Knotts’ brother-in-law, brings over 20 years of journalism experience to his research and writing. We had the chance to speak to him about covering one of television’s most renowned comedies and its stars.
The book is about Andy [Griffith] and Don [Knotts]—is it focused on their friendship throughout life or just [The Andy Griffith Show] and their friendship within it?
It’s about their friendship throughout—but remember, they weren’t friends until they were in the third decades of their lives, and the middle 50% of the book is about the show. That’s such a massive part of their friendship and what people care about. I try to start with each man’s birth and go all the way to their death.
So it’s like a double-biography.
It is a double-biography. It’s funny—an early reviewer of it accused me of writing a formulaic double-biography, which is hilarious because I didn’t know there was a formula. I apparently followed it unwittingly.
How do you find the balance between both subjects?
The balance came easily, because I started by focusing one long chapter on each man’s childhood. Once they’re together, there’s all those chapters where they’re both participating. Once they’re apart again, later in their lives, each man did so many different things that I found myself focusing 50/50 on each of them. It would have been tricky if one had done a lot less, but they were both so active throughout their careers. It was easy to keep it moving on both of them.