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The Incredible Mr. Limpet was a big deal for Warner Brothers and for Don Knotts.
“I was told at the time that it was the first time that an extensive animated film had been combined with live action,” Knotts said.
Animation and live action were combined previously in movies, but only for short sequences, such as in 1945 when Gene Kelly danced with Jerry in Anchors Away. However, Limpet wouldn’t just dip its toe into the animation waters like others had. Instead it would take a swim.
Don Knotts said, “This was my very first time doing a voice over for animation. It was very exciting.”
The film was also the first time that Don Knotts starred in a leading role. He was mostly known for his appearance on The Andy Griffith Show, after he and Griffith met thanks to No Time For Sergeants (read about that here).
The challenge of the film was getting the fish to look like his human counterpart. The process took several attempts, and a few animators were hired and fired from the job. Eventually, though the right look was found that incorporated spectacles on both versions of the character.
“I enjoyed the scene where he actually turned into a fish. The way they did that whole scene I thought was very interesting.”
After seeing his fishy self, Knotts joked, “I thought it was me.”
While Limpet has become a fan favorite, it didn’t initially get much buzz. But thanks to a re-release, it eventually found smooth waters.
“As time went on, it just seemed to build and build until as I understand it’s become a sort of a perennial favorite,” Knott said.
In fact, at Knott’s memorial service there was even an ice sculpture of Mr. Limpet.