The Reluctant Astronaut

The Reluctant Astronaut Movie – Don Knotts & Fred Gifford Cast

The Reluctant Astronaut is a movie which was released in 1967. It was directed and produced by Edward Montagne, written by James Fritzell Everett Greenbaum, edited by Sam E.Waxman, and released under Universal Pictures. This movie starred Don Knotts and was based on a storyline which was all about a carnival ride operator that got a job at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston. After finding himself working as a janitor at the Manned Spacecraft Center, the carnival ride operator finally gets on a journey into space.

The lead role in this movie was played by Don Knotts, a comedian who had already won several awards for his role as the deputy to the sheriff of a small town in The Andy Griffith Show, a television sitcom which was aired between 1960 and 1968. Although this show was on from 1960 to 1968, Don Knotts left the show after being on it for five years. His reason for this was to chase a career with Universal Pictures. The Reluctant Astronaut was not Don Knotts’ first role with Universal Pictures. It was his second just after The Ghost and Mr. Chicken which as released in 1966.

What Reception did it enjoy?

The Movie “The Reluctant Astronaut” was premiered on the 25th of January, 1967 in Houston, Texas. This premiere occurred two days before three astronauts died in the Apollo fire. While Universal Pictures already had plans of putting out a comedy which was centered on space travel shortly after the release of The Reluctant Astronaut, it hesitated to release this comedy because of the incident with the astronauts involved in the Apollo 1 fire incident. Although the release of The Reluctant Astronaut just before the incident with astronauts that were affected in Apollo 1 fire affected the level of popularity it enjoyed, it was still loved by children and was usually shown in the afternoons during weekends.

The Reluctant Astronaut Awards

Don Knotts was the lead actor in the movie “The Reluctant Astronaut”. Due to his efforts in this movie, he never won any awards. He, however, got a nomination in 1967 for the 1967 Golden Laurel Male Comedy Performance Award. Furthermore, away from the movie scene, Don Knotts was named an “Honorary Recruiter” by NASA for publicizing some of NASA’s program. That’s not all. Due to the level of success of this movie among children, Baskin-Robbins introduced the “Reluctant Astro-Nut” ice cream.

Casts in the Reluctant Astronaut

While Don Knotts was famous as the lead actor in the Reluctant Astronaut, this movie featured other people in supporting roles. Some of those featured in this movie include;

  • Jesse White who played the role of Donelli, a Space Center janitor supervisor
  • Burt Mustin who played Ned
  • Robert F.Simon who played Cervantes
  • Jeanette Nolan who played Mrs. Fleming, Roy’s mother
  • Paul Hartman who played Rush, Buck’s friend
  • Frank McGrath who played Planck, a friend to Buck.
  • Arthur O’Connell who played Buck Fleming, Roy’s father
  • Joan Freeman who played Ellie Jackson. Roy’s girlfriend
  • Leslie Nielsen who played Major Fred Gifford

Leave a Comment