Marion Knott, the youngest and last surviving child of Knott’s Berry Farm founders Walter and Cordelia Knott, has died at age 92. A graduate in 1939 of Anaheim Union High School, Marion was born in April 1922 on the Buena Park berry farm that would become Knott’s.
In the early days of the farm, Marion Knott was tasked with selling rhubarb at the side of the road. She also served as a waitress with her two sisters in the five-table tea room, where her mother prepared sandwiches, pie and coffee. When her mother introduced chicken dinners in the tea room in 1934, Marion Knott served those up, too.
As her parents aged, she and her three siblings (Virginia ’30, Russell ’33, Toni (Elizabeth) ’34) took over various management positions. Marion became director of design, planning and entertainment and was the one who persuaded the family to put up gates around the park and start charging admission in 1968.
In 1997, the family sold the park to Cedar Fair and Marion didn’t return to the park until 2009 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant, where many Anaheim High students worked throughout their high school years and beyond.
After graduating from Anaheim High, where she was a president of the Domecon Club and a member of Girl Reserves, as well as the girls’ golf team, she attended USC, leaving in her junior year to marry.
Marion was also a philanthropist and served on Chapman University’s Board of Trustees. The university’s film school, the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, named its building Marion Knott Studios after she donated $5 million in 2004 to get it built and later kicked in another $3 million to fill the buildings with film equipment.
Marion Knott is survived by her husband, Anthony Montapert; her son, Darrel Anderson; her daughter, Diane; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.