In his heyday he was the sultan of smarm: the smoothest man in Hollywood. When he spoke, it was as if a neon sign in his mouth flashed "laconic," with cynicism condensing and dripping from his voice. His wit and aplomb in every situation conceivable to scriptwriters let him move effortlessly between the glitter of high society and the depths of the underworld. The kind of overdone coolness that even a Sinatra or a Shatner have to work hard at came naturally to Tony Franciosa. Of course, he was irresistible to all babes.
That made him the perfect opposite of Don Knotts, who works too hard at everything he does, and does it wrong.
Being cool is second nature for Franciosa; it is desperation for Knotts. Franciosa takes advantage of you and you like it; Knotts tries to take advantage of you and you laugh. Franciosa floats into his Ferrari; Knotts trips into his Dodge. Franciosa works with Bob Stack, Knotts with Tim Conway. Franciosa's eyes smolder; Knotts' eyes pop. Franciosa murmurs; Knotts whines.
Franciosa is the man Luther Heggs and Hollis Figg would like to be. To understand Knotts, you must understand Franciosa. Dweeb and sex symbol, they are two sides of the same grotesque coin.
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