George Lindsey – Salt of the Earth

by A-Badgero

The beanie that became the requisite prop for George Lindsey's character, Goober Pyle, can be found at the Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

At the age of ten George Lindsey decided he was going to be famous and he spent his next 73 years working to become just that.

Lindsey was born December 17th, 1928, was the only child of parents George and Alice Lindsey and grew up in a lower class neighborhood in Fairfield Alabama. He graduated from Florence State College earning a degree in biological science and physical education before Lindsey enlisting in the U.S. Air Force. During his time in the force Lindsey would put together plays and entertainment for the servicemen.

Lindsey was honorably discharged after three years of service and went to New York where he attended The American Theatre Wing.Upon his graduation from the American Theatre Wing Lindsey appeared in the broadway musicals, All American and Wonderful Town. In the early 1960s Lindsey decided to try his luck in Hollywood. It was in 1964 when he was cast as the slow-witted, beanie wearing, grinning country boy Goober Pyle on the Andy Griffith Show that he would get his big break. Andy described the character of Goober as the type of person who would sit down at a table and say, “Hey, this is great salt.”

Although Andy left the show in 1968 CBS retooled it as Mayberry R.F.D. and Lindesy continued to play Goober until 1970 when the show was cancelled. Lindsey played the role of Goober one more time on the popular (at the time) variety show, Hee Haw until it ended in 1992.

Although it was the Goober character that really made him known Lindsey had a long television career that included roles on M*A*S*H, The Real McCoys, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, The Wonderful World of Disney, CHIPS, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Twilight Zone and Love American Style. Lindsey also made appearances in the films, Cannonball Run ll and Take this Job and Shove It as well as lending his voice to such Walt Disney animated classics as The Aristocats, The Rescuers and Robin Hood. He was also Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry’s, first choice for the role of Mr. Spock but he turned it down.

Lindsey quickly became one of the busiest performers in the business, making frequent guest appearances on talk and game shows as well as being the guest star on some of the most popular series of that time. Now a full fledged stand up comedian, he was the headliner and opening act for top country music acts, spokesperson for Getty Oil Truck Stops and Liberty Trouser Company and eventually the owner of a greatly successful chain of George Lindsey Family Restaurants.

Despite his very busy schedule Lindsey also found time to become a fixture at charity fundraisers. The Special Olympics was a cause he held closest to his heart. From 1973-1988 he held an annual George Lindsey Celebrity Golf Weekend that raised over one million dollars for the Alabama Special Olympics.

Lindsey suffered from a brief illness before passing away, Sunday May 6th at the age of 83 in Nashville Tennessee. George Lindsey and Andy Griffith remained good friends over the years and in a statement released by the Marshall-Donnelly-Combs Funeral Home, Mr. Griffith said, “George Lindsey was my friend. I had great respect for his talent and his human spirit. In recent years, we spoke often by telephone. Our last conversation was a few days ago… I am happy to say that as we found ourselves in our eighties, we were not afraid to say, ‘I love you.’ That was the last thing George and I had to say to each other. ‘I love you.’ ”

According to his family, Lindsey often talked about being undecided about what his tombstone should say. He was torn between two phrases “I told you I was sick” and “I hope I made you laugh.”

Read more:

George Lindsey Obituary | Marshall Donnelly Combs Funeral Home

Goober in a Nutshell | Autobiography by George Lindsey

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