Ted Knight was an American actor best known for playing the comedic role of Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Henry Rush on Too Close for Comfort, and Judge Elihu Smails in Caddyshack.
Born Tadeus Wladyslaw Konopka to a Polish-American family in Terryville, Connecticut, Knight dropped out of high school to enlist for military service in World War II, He was a member of A Company, 296th Engineer Combat Battalion, earning five battle stars while serving in the European Theatre.
In 1948, he married Dorothy Smith, and eventually had three children: Ted Knight, Jr., Elyse, and Eric.
During the postwar years, Knight studied acting in Hartford, Connecticut. He became proficient with puppets and ventriloquism, which led to steady work as a television kiddie-show host at WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island from 1950 to 1955. In 1955, he left Providence for Albany, New York, where he landed a job at station WROW-TV, hosting The Early Show featuring MGM movies and a kids? variety show, playing a “Gabby Hayes” type character named “Windy Knight”. He was also a radio announcer for sister station WROW radio. He left the station in 1957 after receiving advice from station manager Thomas S. Murphy that he should take his talents to Hollywood.