The Andy Griffith Show was particularly good at creating lovable characters that viewers became attached to over the years. One of those characters was Goober Pyle, played by actor George Lindsey. Lindsey's character was so integral to the fictional world of Mayberry, North Carolina, he was brought onto two of the show's spinoff series.
Goober was the goofy gas station attendant and cousin of Gomer Pyle, played by fellow Alabama native Jim Nabors. Goober was brought back to appear in Mayberry R.F.D., Return to Mayberry and Gomer's spin-off show, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Lindsey even played his hilarious country character on the show Hee Haw, which he appeared on for 20 years.
George Smith Lindsey first got his start in acting after graduating from the University of North Alabama (then called the Florence State Teacher's College) and serving in the United States Air Force. He taught at Hazel Green High School in Hazel Green, Alabama before attending the American Theater Wing and chasing a standup comedy career. He spent a few years working in theater in New York City (including two Broadway plays) before relocating to Los Angeles. He started making a name for himself in Hollywood through roles in various TV westerns like Gunsmoke and The Rifleman. He also appeared on The Real McCoys, The Twilight Zone, Daniel Boone, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour prior to landing the role of Goober on Andy Griffith.
Throughout his acting career, Lindsey also appeared on the TV series M*A*S*H and contributed to multiple animated Disney films, including The Aristocats, Robin Hood and The Rescuers. His close friend Ernest Borgnine even wrote in his autobiography that Lindsey turned down the role of Spock in Star Trek, a role which made Leonard Nimoy a household name. Who knows if that's true, but it makes for a fun story!
Other film roles for Lindsey include Cannonball Run II and a movie themed around the Johnny Paycheck song Take This Job and Shove It.
One of the most memorable things about George Lindsey was his dedication to the Special Olympics. He hosted the George Lindsey Celebrity Weekend and Golf Tournament in Montgomery, Alabama which raised $1 million for the Alabama Special Olympics.
Of all of his roles, Lindsey will always be best remembered for playing the lovable Goober Pyle. A role he even took on the road to perform live for his fans. Lindsey passed away from heart failure in Nashville, Tennessee in 2012 but will always be beloved for his contributions to the golden age of television.
This story first ran on June 22, 2020.