George Lindsey, better known as the grinning, beanie-wearing Goober from the classic rural comedy ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and ‘Hee Haw,’ has died on Sunday at age 83.
According to a press release from Marshall-Donnelly-Combs Funeral Home in Nashville, Tennessee, the actor passed away after an extended hospitalization.
Lindsey is best remembered as Goober Pyle, who was featured on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ from 1964 to 1968 and on ‘Mayberry RFD,’ which succeeded it from 1968 to 1971.
The actor reprised his jovial character - a service station attendant - on the show ‘Hee Haw’ from 1971 until it went out of production in 1993.
‘Goober is every man; everyone finds something to like about ol' Goober,’ Lindsey said in an Associated Press interview in 1985.
Goober was added to the cast of characters on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ when actor Jim Nabors, portraying Gomer Pyle, left. Goober Pyle, who had been mentioned on the show as Gomer's cousin, replaced him.
At that time, we were the best acting ensemble on TV,’ Lindsey said. ‘The scripts were terrific.’
In a statement released through the funeral home, Griffith, 85, called Lindsey his friend and said that they would often talk on the phone, most recently a few days before the actor’s death.
‘I am happy to say that as we found ourselves in our eighties, we were not afraid to say, `I love you,’’ Griffith went on to say. ‘That was the last thing George and I had to say to each other. `I love you.’’
Besides Goober, Lindsey had other roles during a distinguished career in television, which included a stint on the show ‘Gunsmoke’ during which he shot Matt Dillon.
His other TV credits included roles on ‘M*A*S*H,’ ‘The Wonderful World of Disney,’ ‘CHIPs,’ ‘The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,’ ‘The Real McCoys,’ ‘Rifleman,’ ‘The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,’ ‘Twilight Zone’ and ‘Love American Style.’ In 1971, he released a comedy album 'Goober Sings!'
‘There's a residual effect of knowing I've made America laugh,’ Lindsey said back in 1985. ‘I'm not the only one, but I've contributed something.’
Besides getting some small parts in movies, Lindsey also had several voice credits in several animated Walt Disney features, including ,The Aristocats,’ ‘The Rescuers’ and ‘Robin Hood.’
According to The Tennessean, Lindsey was born in Jasper, Alabama, in the family of a butcher. Since his mother was disabled and his father struggled to find work, Lindsey was primarily raised by his grandparents.
He graduated from Florence State Teachers College (now the University of North Alabama) in 1952 with degrees in physical education and biology.
While in the U.S. Air Force stationed in Orlando, Florida, Lindsey met and, in 1955, married Joyanne Herbert, and they had two children. The couple divorced in 1991.
In love with the theater since age 14 after seeing a production of 'Oklahoma!' Lindsey moved to New York City in 1956 and took acting classes.
His professional career got under way with appearances in the Broadway productions of ‘All-American’ and ‘Wonderful Town’
Lindsey made the move to Hollywood in the early 1960s and then to Nashville in the early 1990s. Everywhere he went, Lindsey said he was recognized as Goober.
Lindsey devoted much of his spare time to charity work though his George Lindsey Celebrity Golf Tournament, which raised $1.7 million for the Alabama Special Olympics.
The University of North Alabama awarded Lindsey an honorary doctorate in 1992, after which he became known as 'Doctor Goober' among his friends.
Lindsey is survived by his son, George Lindsey Jr, daughter Camden Jo Lindsey Gardner, two grandsons and his companion of many years, Anne Wilson.