Ted Knight Memorial Bridge
Canal Street, Plymouth
If you’re anything like me, you love the fact that Connecticut features the small Ernest Borgnine park in Hamden and the rather utilitarian Ted Knight Bridge in Plymouth. Sure, Katherine Hepburn and Meryl Streep were and are long time Connecticutians, but c’mon. McHale and Ted Baxter? Can’t beat that.
I know Ted Knight mostly as Henry Rush from Too Close For Comfort. Yes, I know that most of you would refer to the Mary Tyler Moore Show or Caddyshack – and you’d be right to do so. But what can I say? I have a thing for corny 80’s sit-coms. Always have, always will.
And I have an even bigger thing for random Connecticut ridiculousness.
Ted Knight was born Tadeus Wladyslaw Konopka to a Polish-American family in Plymouth. He dropped out of high school to serve in World War II where he earned five battle stars while serving in the European Theatre.
Then, as many battle-scarred veterans do, Knight studied acting in Hartford. Yes, Hartford. He became proficient with puppets and ventriloquism, which led to steady work as a television kiddie-show host in Providence from 1950 to 1955. After that, he continued his “Boring northeastern capital city tour” and wound up in Albany, where he hosted a couple of different shows.
Hartford! Providence! Albany! Before he found himself in Montpelier, someone let Knight know that there was this place called Hollywood for talent like him.
In the 1950’s and 60’s, he landed work in a ton of movies and shows. His big break came in the 70’s with the role of Ted Baxter on the MTM Show. As the vain and untalented WJM newscaster Ted Baxter, Knight received widespread recognition and his greatest success. He received six Emmy Award nominations for the role, winning the Emmy for “Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Comedy” in 1973 and 1976.
Then there was his memorable role as Judge Smails in 1980’s Caddyshack.
Dude deserved a bridge!
In the 80’s, Knight was cast in the lead role as the kind, curmudgeonly cartoonist Henry Rush in the series Too Close for Comfort in 1980. During scenes in which Henry draws in his bedroom, Knight used his earlier acquired ventriloquism talents for comical conversations with a hand-puppet version of his comic book’s main character “Cosmic Cow”. Who besides me remembers that? With Jim J. Bullock?! Great (terrible) stuff!
That show only lasted a couple of years.
Unfortunately, Knight suffered from cancer and his spin-off, The Ted Knight Show, only lasted for one season before his health kept him from working.
After his death in 1986, the town of Plymouth dedicated the Canal Street bridge to his memory and installed a plaque with his likeness on the concrete barrier. It is not large. It is not showy or even all that attractive now decades later. But it’s our Ted Knight Bridge.
And hey, it has a nice view of Horseshoe Falls along the Pequabuck River. I love this stuff.