Famous Like Me > Actor > K > Michael Knight
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Profile of Michael Knight
on Famous Like Me
|Also Know As:
|Date of Birth:
||26th October 1968
|Place of Birth:
||Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA
- For the American media company, see Knight Ridder.
Knight Rider logo
||Action / Drama
||45 minutes per episode
||Glen A. Larson
voice of William Daniels
||September 26, 1982 – August 8, 1986
|No. of episodes
Knight Rider was a popular US 1980s television show. It starred David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, a kind of modern-day 'knight' who drove an advanced smart car with artificial intelligence. Conceived and produced by Glen A. Larson, the show was an instant hit and inspired a subgenre of high-tech crimefighter series.
In the pilot episode, undercover police officer Michael Long was betrayed and seemingly killed by a gunshot wound to the head. Declared dead to the public, his medical care was actually taken over by the Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG). FLAG was the private crime-fighting arm of the Knight Foundation, founded by dying millionaire philanthropist Wilton Knight. Given a new face via plastic surgery, Michael Long was resurrected as Michael Knight. Together with a high-tech automobile called KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand), Michael set out to carry out Wilton Knight's crime-fighting work. Michael was usually given mission objectives by the new director of FLAG, Wilton's best friend, Devon Miles. He was selected for his high level of training in both deduction and self defense.
Michael Knight was a new kind of hero, a modern knight, who avoided unnecessary violence and refrained from using firearms. Most episodes featured an attractive young woman (on one occasion, Geena Davis in an early role), in need of Knight's help. As with The A-Team, Knight didn't have one area where he operated; the Foundation required his services in whatever state where trouble arose.
David Hasselhoff plays a double role in the Season 2 episodes entitled "Goliath" and "Goliath Returns" as both Michael Knight and as Garthe Knight, Wilton's criminal son. At the time of Michael Knight's surgery, Garthe was imprisoned in Africa. Wilton Knight believed his son would never be seen again, and had Michael Knight's face modeled after Garthe's.
KITT, (short for Knight Industries Two Thousand}, was for many, the star of the show. The car boasted artificial intelligence of sufficent level to reason, talk, and deliver sardonic one-liners to Michael Knight as an equal. KITT could drive himself when Michael was otherwise engaged, keeping in contact via a wrist communicator or "comlink" (disguised as a watch).
KITT's Pontiac Trans-AM chassis was reinforced with Wilton Knight's revolutionary Molecular Bonded Shell, and was resistant to most known weapons below heavy artillery. The Knight 2000's drivetrain consisted of a turbine engine, capable of accelerating the car to speeds over 200 mph (320 km/h); furthermore, the car featured numerous other special abilities, the most notable being a frequently-used 'Turbo Boost' for jumping over obstacles. Several episodes saw new technical gadgets added to KITT's repertoire, which were subsequently used to rescue Michael and KITT from some perilous situation in the very same episode.
KITT was the second robot car developed by FLAG. The first, named KARR (Knight Automated Roving Robot), was built without the directive for protection of human life (see Three Laws of Robotics) that KITT possessed. KARR fell into the wrong hands and served as KITT's Doppelganger during two episodes, "Trust Don't Rust" and "KITT vs KARR".
KITT was improved greatly in the show's final season. During a mission in Chicago, KITT's Molecular Bonded Shell was neutralized and his body was severely damaged by an enemy battering ram. He was rebuilt in a miraculous 24 hours, with the help of Bonnie, RC3 (Peter Parros) and his street-wise mechanic friends. While they were not initially able to restore the car's Molecular Bonded Shell, they added a 'Super Pursuit Mode', giving KITT a 40% increase in speed (upwards of 300 mph), made possible by retractable airfoils, and jet boosters. An 'Emergency Braking System' was also installed to either slow the car down or stop it from these high speeds using three large airflaps (The Mercedes SLR actually uses this technology today). The 'C' button was able to turn KITT into a convertible. (It is obvious in following episodes that once Michael and crew returned to FLAG headquarters, KITT's Molecular Bonded Shell was in fact restored to him.)
Some fans viewed these changes as unnecessary or over the top, and interest in the show declined. Regardless of whether or not this caused its demise, the show went off the air as Universal needed more money to produce Knight Rider than NBC was willing to pay for it.
List of KITT's features
KITT had many features, and most of them had an activation button associated with them that were on button panels mounted on either side of the steering wheel. Many of these button functions seem to change around, appearing and disappearing, or rearranging from episode to episode. Some were used once and never seen again.
Some of KITT's features include the following:
- Computer AI - KITT was essentially an advanced supercomputer on wheels. The system had a "self-aware" cybernetic logic module that allowed KITT to think, learn, talk and interact with humans. Although KITT wasn't programmed to have feelings, he always had an ego that was easy to bruise and displayed a very sensitive personality. The system was programmed to drive the car better than a human operator could. His system could play music and video, and also run various computer programs including arcade games which Michael sometimes indulged in whenever KITT was driving. The belief that KITT was truly sentient was never discussed in the show, however KITT was fully aware of himself and programmed to obey all orders given to him by his human creators, so long as they didn't violate his prime directive of protecting human life (especially Michael's) to the best of his abilities. KITT has, however been referred to as being "alive" in at least one episode.
- Molecular Bonded Shell - KITT's molecular bonded shell armor protected him from almost all forms of conventional fire arms and explosive devices. He could only be harmed by heavy artillery and rockets, and even then, the blast left most of the shell intact and only damaged internal components. The shell protected every part of the car including the tires. KITT could even act as a shield for explosives by driving over bombs and suppressing the blast. The shell also protected him from fire and electricity, however it was vulnerable to some potent acids and at least one formula was made to completely neutralize the shell. The shell is actually a combination of three secret substances referred together as the "Knight Compound", developed by Wilton Knight who entrusted parts of the formula to three seperate people. These individuals only know two pieces of the formula, ensuring that any two of them could make more of the Knight Compound in an emergency situation and that no one person would be able to make it.
- Turbo Boost - Used at least once in every episode, a series of undercarrage rocket motors allows KITT to accelerate to incredible speeds of up to 200 MPH, and jump 40 feet over obstacles in the road. It also allowed KITT added power whenever he had to maneuver heavy objects such as pushing a heavy boulder off a cliff, or pulling a large vehicle out of danger. The boosters could rotate and fire forward or backward.
- Scan Bar - KITT's most apparent feature was his front scan bar (sometimes called the "Etymotic Equalizer" - although the term etymotic refers to audio technology). The scan bar is a fiber-optic array of electronic eyes. The scanner could see in all visual wavelengths including X-Ray and infrared. When KITT's surveillance mode was active, the bar would light up and make a swooshing sound as it panned left and right. Occasionally, the bar could pulse in different patterns and sweep rapidly or very slowly. The scan bar is also KITT's most vulnerable area. In an attempt to stop KARR, Bonnie rigged a laser that could penetrate KARR's sensor and disable his electronics.
- Microscanners - Microscanners are tiny audio and visual sensors embedded into the grooves of KITT's body. They allow for visual tracking and display of anything around the car.
- Cruise Modes - These are KITT's three drive modes:
- Normal Cruise - On "Normal", Michael had control of the car. In an emergency, KITT could still take over and activate Auto Cruise mode. In order to prevent this, one has to use the Manual Override.
- Auto Cruise - In "Auto", KITT could drive himself.
- Pursuit - "Pursuit" is used during high-speed driving and is a combination of manual and computer assisted operation. KITT could respond to road conditions faster than Michael's reflexes could however Michael was technically in control of the vehicle and KITT helped guide certain maneuvers.
- Computer Override - KITT has a hidden switch and setting dial under the dash that either completely shuts down his AI module or deactivates certain systems should the need arise.
- Manual Override - KITT has a function which can be activated in order to completely lock the AI from all the vehicle controls. Unlike the Computer Override, Manual Override simply keeps KITT from activating Auto Cruse or preventing anyone inside the car from doing something that would probably hurt them. KITT's AI is still able to protest such actions vocally.
- Silent Mode - KITT could run silently. The feature dampened his engine noise and allow him to sneak around.
- Grappling Hook and Winch - KITT has a hidden winch and grappling hook system, one mounted under his front bumper, and another in a compartment behind his tail light plate.
- Oil Slick/Smoke Screen - KITT could spray an oil slick and smoke screen from under the rear bumper.
- Flame Thrower - KITT has flame throwers mounted under his bumpers.
- Wrist Communicator - KITT was in constant contact with Michael via a two-way communication wrist watch Michael wore.
- Telephone Comlink - Michael could contact home base and communicate with Devon over KITT's video display.
- Microwave Jammer - KITT has an electronic jamming system that played havoc on electrical systems. It was especially useful when trying to disable a fleeing vehicle's engine. The system could take control of electronic machines, allowing things like cheating at slot machines, breaking electronic locks, fowling security cameras, and withdrawing money from ATMs. The most common usage was to knock out the electronics systems of vehicles' engines and to activate the brakes. In some episodes, KITT is even capable of using it to magnitize and manipulate non-electronic objects.
- Surveillance Mode - Surveillance Mode did several things; KITT could track people and vehicles like a radar system. He could gather structural schematics of buildings or vehicles and help Michael avoid dangers when he was snooping around. KITT could also tap into phone lines and computer systems, and monitor, record and retrieve information.
- Tracking Scope - KITT could monitor the position of specific vehicles in the area for several miles. For instance, if Michael wanted to know the location of every police vehicle within 5 miles, KITT could display a schematic on his monitors of all police vehicles relative to his position.
- EKG - KITT has a medical scanner that could monitor the vital signs of pedestrians, indicating such things as if they were injured, or acting nervous.
- Deflatable Tires - KITT could deflate and reinflate his tires.
- Fuel Processor - KITT was powered by a turbine engine, and he could run on any combustable liquid.
- Self-Tinting Windows - KITT's windows could darken to opacity for various situations.
- Voice Synthesizer - KITT could project simulated sounds, such as a police raid to fool criminals, and even growl like a wild animal, which was useful for scaring away dogs who try to pee on his tires or a gator that was a little too friendly.
- Auto Doors, Sunroof, and Trunklid - KITT could automatically open and close his doors. He could also lock his doors to prevent unauthorized entry into his driver compartment. He could also open his hood automatically.
- Seat Ejection System - KITT had two front ejection seats, mostly used when Michael needed a boost to fire escapes or building roof tops.
- Passive Laser Restraint System - Added to KITT in later seasons, the restraint system helped protect Michael and any passengers from the shock of sudden impacts and hard stopping, especially after Super-Pursuit Mode. It is speculated that this is a primitive form of inertial dampening device.
- Video Display Monitors - KITT had two video display monitors on his dash for various readouts. He only had one when his dash was redesigned for third season.
- Computer Print Out - KITT could print hardcopies of data on a dashboard mounted printer.
- Chemical Analyzer - KITT has a retractable tray with an electron scanner that could analyze the chemical properties of various materials. It could even scan finger prints and read ballistic information off bullets and compare these with a police database.
- Fire Extinguisher - KITT could put out small fires from a CO2 sprayer in his bumpers.
- Oxygen Supply - KITT could release oxygen into his driver compartment and provide air to passengers if he was ever submerged in water or buried in earth. This is also used to overcome the effects of certain drugs.
- Ski Mode - This setting allowed KITT to "ski" (driving up on two wheels).
- Water Driving - KITT could hydroplane and drive on water, using his wheels and turbo system for propulsion.
- Sub Zero - KITT could "flash freeze" the driver compartment. This was used once when a baby tiger managed to get inside and KITT wanted him out.
- Sleep Gas - KITT could spray a gas into the driver compartment that could knock an unwanted occupant out cold.
- Vacuum - KITT could expend all breathable air from the driver compartment, however, only KARR ever used it to harm someone. KITT used this to rid the compartment of smoke after bombs were disposed of is his trunk.
- Super-Pursuit Mode - KITT's Super-Pursuit mode was added fourth season. The system was a redesign of his rocket motors that allowed him incredible speeds of up to 300 MPH. Fins extended from his body for better aerodynamics.
- Emergency Braking System - The EBS slowed KITT down from Super-Pursuit speeds. It consisted of a forward breaking booster and air panels that popped out to create air friction.
- Convertible Roof - Added fourth season, by pressing the "C" button on KITT's dash, Michael could bring the top down and KITT became a convertible.
Michael and KITT answered directly to Devon Miles (played by Edward Mulhare). Devon played the dual role of friend and leader of the team. He appears in every episode, usually to give the background on an assignment or situation in the beginning, and to help conclude the plot lines at the end. His extremely proper, british upbringing plays a large role in his demeanor. In some episodes, his handling of situations is aided by his way with words, and in others that same ability is used for comic relief; a foil to american culture. Devon was an experienced and resourceful man who had evaded the Gestapo during World War II, and defended the Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG) whenever it came under negative scrutiny. On more than one occasion, Devon's role as leader of the FLAG put him in situations of extreme danger, from which he was always somehow able to recover.
Bonnie Barstow (Patricia McPherson) and April Curtis (Rebecca Holden) took turns in serving as KITT's chief mechanic. Both were attractive women who served as romantic tension for Michael Knight, as well as constructing new devices to aid KITT's performance in the field. Bonnie was chief mechanic in Seasons 1, 3 and 4. April had the role in Season 2. They never shared screen time, and while both played their part reasonably well, it is the general consensus that McPherson was a better fit for the role.
Reginald Cornelius III, or RC3 for short, appears in Season 4. Portrayed by Peter Parros, RC brought a different set of talents to FLAG, most notably his street smarts and ability to back Michael up in physical confrontations. His appearance meant that the enemies presented had to also become more organized and numerous. He saves Michael on more than one occasion, but also requires rescuing himself at times since he does not share Michael's high level of martial arts training.
Michael and KITT generally had different enemies in each episode. No single type of criminal was the norm, as Michael clashed head on with mobile assassins, saboteurs, bio-terrorists, psychopaths, and even nuclear-powered military groups. Most adversaries were permanently defeated or captured after one encounter, though a select few would later return to challenge the duo. Perhaps most noted for repeat appearances was Michael's physical double Garthe Knight, an international criminal who happened to be Wilton Knight's natural son. Garth piloted a huge, nearly indestructible truck named Goliath. (Goliath also counts as a nemesis of sorts for KITT, since it shared the same Molecular Bonded Shell, although it had no artificial intelligence.)
Other repeat enemies included KARR (for Knight Automated Roving Robot), an "evil" prototype of KITT. KARR possessed identical capabilities except one— KITT's programming to protect human life. KARR is widely believed to be the greatest enemy that Michael and KITT ever faced, with the Season 3 episode "KITT vs. KARR" generally recognized to be the best of the whole series.
Adrianne Margeaux was a highly educated and wealthy criminal who made appearances in two episodes (one of them a two-parter); in her second appearence, she teamed up with Garthe Knight and Goliath to attempt to defeat Michael Knight.
It is notable that while Knight Rider portrayed a wide variety of situations and enemies, some actors and actresses were re-hired to play different roles later in the series. Both Ann Turkel (first as the aforementioned Adrianne Margeaux, then later as Bianca, the leader of a team of female extortionists) and John Considine (first as Boyd LaSalle, an electronics expert operating in Louisiana in Season 3, then as Phillip Nordstrom, a cybernetically enhanced international terrorist in Season 4) made repeated appearances, as did other actors in more minor roles.
A few episodes, such as Season 3's "Knight of the Chameleon," feature Michael and KITT facing adversaries they presumably had encountered in the past, despite such encounters not having been previously depicted in an actual produced episode.
In 1997, the fleet of intelligent vehicles grew in the TV series Team Knight Rider. The show featured Beast, a Ford F-150 all-terrain vehicle; Dante, a Ford Expedition sport-utility vehicle; Domino, a Ford Mustang convertible; and Kat and Plato, twin customized motorcycles. The voice of Domino was Nia Vardalos, later the creator and star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
The television show spawned two movies: Knight Rider 2000, a sequel; and Knight Rider 2010, loosely based on the show. There is talk of a third movie, Previously thought to be named Super Knight Rider 3000, now known as Knight Rider: The Movie, proposed by Hasselhoff.
Debuting in 1982, the show was an instant hit, and inspired several other 'crimefighter plus high-tech vehicle' series, such as Airwolf, Viper, and Street Hawk. Various toy versions of KITT were released and produced solid profits. Among the more notable of the Knight Rider memorabilia includes the remote controlled KITT, the Knight Rider lunch box, and the deluxe version of KITT. This final model spoke electronically, featured a detailed interior and a Michael Knight doll as well.
The show´s ratings began to decline in 1985, and the 1986 season was the last. Several attempts at reviving the series have been made. In 1991, a TV-movie entitled Knight Rider 2000 reunited the original cast for the last time and its plot included Devon Miles being murdered (Edward Mulhare, who played Devon, has since died, himself). Another movie, Knight Rider 2010 (1994) was only loosely based upon the series, this time with the spirit of a young woman becoming the basis for the car's intelligence. Team Knight Rider, an adventure series taking place years after the events of the original series, lasted for one season in 1997-98 and managed to misinterpret every aspect of the original series. (Including the fact that not once during Knight Rider was the actual phrase "Knight Rider" ever spoken.) In 2004, David Hasselhoff announced plans for a big-screen version of Knight Rider in which he will appear - but not necessarily as Michael Knight.
Knight Rider was David Hasselhoff's first major television role and, although many people watched the show purely for KITT, it established him as a popular star. He achieved even greater fame in the worldwide syndicated hit Baywatch.
The fondly-remembered theme music, written by series producer Glen A. Larson and Stu Phillips (who also scored several episodes), was sampled for two 1997 hit singles: Busta Rhymes' "Fire It Up" and Timbaland & Magoo's "Clock Strikes [Remix]". Several other artists, including the alternative metal band System of a Down's "I-E-A-I-A-I-O" from Steal this Album, have sampled the tune as well. Panjabi MC sampled the theme tune for his 2002/2003 UK and European crossover Bhangra influenced dance hit, "Mundian to Bach Ke (Beware of the Boys)."
When Stu Phillips left the series for unknown reasons, Don Peake became the music composer during the rest of the series. The change of the style between the composers can be felt in the middle of the first season. The style of the music composed by Phillips was more symphonic, Peake's was more electronic.
Knight Rider was turned into a computer game in 1986 for several popular 8-bit formats, although it only received a partial release. In the modern era, Knight Rider the Game was produced by Davilex International under license. Players drive KITT through 15 missions. With the popularity of Knight Rider the Game, Davilex also released a sequel in late 2004.
The show's first season was released on DVD in North America during the summer of 2004. The second season was released on April 12, 2005. The third is slated for release sometime at the end of 2005.
Knight Rider proved immensely popular overseas, and continues in syndication in various countries today. David Hasselhoff remains one of the most recognized stars worldwide thanks to his role as Michael Knight. In South America, the show was renamed "El Auto Fantastico" and is generally known by that title. Incidentally, many shows are renamed overseas to better suit the subtleties of different languages. In this case the play on the word "Knight" in the title (a triple meaning, with Michael Knight, the Knight Foundation, and the classic medieval Knight all playing part of the meaning) was not as effective in Spanish speaking countries, as the word Knight is translated to "Caballero". "El Auto Fantastico" (The Fantastic Car) also contained slight differences in the naming of certain elements, with the Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG) being renamed FLO (La Fundación de la Ley y el Orden, translated as the Foundation for Law and Order) to suit the audience. Names of the characters remained unchanged, with the only other differences being the voices of the actors who recorded the lines in Spanish.
In Spain, Knight Rider was known as "El Coche Fantástico" ("Coche" also translates to car, this is a stylistic difference of the Spanish language, whose vernacular varies from country to country) and FLAG was called "Fundación para la Ley y el Orden", except on the second episode which was called "Fundación para la Ley y el Gobierno", the exact translation of the original.
In Turkish the show was translated as "Kara Simsek" or "Black Lightning".
In Hebrew the show was translated as "Abir al Galgalim" or "Knight on Wheels". The series was very popular in Israel and reruns of it are still broadcasted.
In Italy, the series was called "Supercar", while all the characters' names remained the same. It is widely recognized as one of the most successful series in the history of Italian television, as it still airs occasionally.
In Poland the show was translated as "Nieustraszony" which means "fearless" in english. The character names and KITT itself has not been changed in the first translation, although in the second one KITT was called "K". The series was very popular there and is often reaired.
In France, the series was called "K 2000", K for Knight, the intro also reference Michael as a knight and his horse, Originally aired on "La Cinq", reruns occasionally on M6
Cast and credits
- Michael Knight: David Hasselhoff
- Voice of KITT: William Daniels (uncredited)
- Devon Miles: Edward Mulhare
- Bonnie Barstow: Patricia McPherson - 1982-1983 then 1984-1986
- April Curtis: Rebecca Holden - 1983-1984
- RC3 - Reginald Cornelius III: Peter Parros - 1985-1986
- Producer: Glen A. Larson
William Daniels was one of the stars of St. Elsewhere, as Dr. Mark Craig, and worked on both series simultaneously. He went on to star in the series Boy Meets World.
Bonnie Barstow (Patricia McPherson) was KITT's mechanic during the first season; when McPherson left the show, April Curtis (Rebecca Holden) became the mechanic for the second season. McPherson returned for the third and fourth seasons.
Wilton Knight was played in the pilot by Richard Basehart.
KARR was first voiced by Peter Cullen (who was also best known as the voice of Optimus Prime and Ironhide in The Transformers). In his second appearance ("KITT vs. KARR"), he was voiced by Paul Frees.
- Although widely believed to have never appeared on screen during an episode of Knight Rider, William Daniels, the voice of KITT, does appear briefly in the pilot episode as an uncredited car thief.
- The cars KARR and KITT were modified Pontiac Trans Ams.
- The Trans Am body is designed for speeds up to 300 mph, meaning the airfoils in KITT's super pursuit mode are unnecessary. A Trans Am with totally standard body proved this at Bonneville during Speed Week. However, KITT's altered configuration gave him greater maneuverability at higher speeds.
- There were at least four KITT cars used for filming:
- One was a normal car with the prop KITT dashboard that Micheal's character drove. It was also used for most interior shots.
- Another car was made specifically for jumping and sometimes suspended by a crane as it passed through the air. It can be seen in various episodes with a strange underside, an obviously fake fiberglass body, and thicker tires.
- A third car was modified to be driven from the back seat as the stunt driver hid behind the driver seat under a tarp. The driver looked through a little window in the headrest. You can usually see the "hidden driver" in most of the scenes where KITT drove himself.
- A fourth car was driven by a stunt driver. It had no custom KITT dash and was equipped with a roll bar. In some scenes with the car, you could see a round steering wheel and dashboard that were straight out of a normal Trans Am. This car was equipped with a nitrous oxide system and was used in scenes whenever KITT "burned rubber" or went "skiing" on two wheels.
- In fourth season a "Super Pursuit Mode" KITT was created. Scenes where panels and airvents popped out were used on a static mock up model of the car.
- According to Glen A. Larson, in his interview on the Season One DVD, after the show became a big hit, Pontiac dealerships across the country were swamped with calls and visitors looking for the black Trans Am model that had KITT's features. Many people were practically laughed out of the dealership after learning the car really didn't exist. Toward the end of the first season, in a formal letter to Universal Studios, General Motors kindly asked them to never refer to KITT as a "Pontiac" or a "Trans Am" ever again. From then on KITT was just called KITT.
- KITT's red scanner was a carryover from Glen A. Larson's previous television series, Battlestar Galactica.
- The opening title narration (used from "Good Day At White Rock," season 1, onwards) was spoken by Richard Basehart (who played Wilton Knight):
- "Knight Rider". A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless, in a world of criminals who operate above the law."
- KITT had a California license plate that read "KNIGHT"
- David Hasselhoff's ex-wife Catherine Hickland starred in 3 Knight Rider episodes. After their divorce, she went on to marry Michael E. Knight, a soap opera star.
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