George Smith Lindsey (December 17, 1928 - May 6, 2012) was an American character actor, best known for his role as Goober Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry R.F.D. and his subsequent tenure on Hee-Haw.
Life and career:
George Lindsey was born in Fairfield in populous Jefferson County, Alabama, and grew up in the small town of Jasper. Lindsey graduated from Walker High School in 1946 and then attended Kemper Military School in Boonville, Missouri, and Florence State College in Florence (now the University of North Alabama), where he majored in physical education and biology, played quarterback on the football team, and received a Bachelor of Science in 1952. After graduating from college he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Ramey AFB in Puerto Rico. After his discharge, he taught for a year at Hazel Green High School in Hazel Green, Alabama, while waiting to be accepted by the American Theater Wing in New York City in 1956. After graduating from the American Theater Wing and performing in two Broadway plays, "Wonderful Town" and "All American", he moved to Los Angeles in 1962. He got parts in TV series of the day with bit parts in The Rifleman, The Real McCoys, The Twilight Zone, Daniel Boone, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,and three episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, before he got the role he would become famous for as "Goober" on the The Andy Griffith Show.
The Andy Griffith Show, as "Goober Pyle" (1964):
In 1964, Lindsey was cast as the slow-witted but kindly "Goober Beasley" on the The Andy Griffith Show. His character was later renamed "Goober Pyle" to tie him to his cousin Gomer Pyle, slow-witted country boy played by Jim Nabors, also from Alabama. Goober's antics frequently included his exaggerated "Goober Dance" and his comically bad Cary Grant impression.
As Lindsey started his portrayal as Goober, he also had a minor role in the Walter Brennan series The Tycoon on ABC. Lindsey played a sailor in the 1964 film Ensign Pulver, the sequel to Mister Roberts. He also had a role in a Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode entitled Submarine Sunk Here. He also appeared in 6 episodes of the television series Gunsmoke. He played a blackmailing taxicab driver in the "Bed of Roses" episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.
Mayberry R.F.D., other acting work:
After Griffith left his television show, CBS retooled it as Mayberry R.F.D. and Lindsey played the same character, until CBS cancelled the program in 1971. In his autobiography, Lindsey said though Mayberry R.F.D. gave his character more to do, he never felt the show's writing was up to the standards of The Andy Griffith Show.
In 1972, Lindsey portrayed Charlie, one of a pair of highwaymen in the Gunsmoke episode "Blind Man's Buff," and an escaped convict, "The Dove," in an episode of The Rifleman. Disney used his talents in a few projects, both as comedy support in features (Snowball Express) and voiceovers for a few of their animated characters. Three Disney animated features that presented the voice of Lindsey were The Aristocats (1970), Robin Hood (1973) and The Rescuers (1977). He also appeared in the 1967 Gunsmoke episode "Mad Dog" as one of the Watson Brothers.
In 1978, Lindsey guest starred on M*A*S*H as Roy Dupree, a Southern surgeon working at the 8063rd Unit who switched places at the 4077th with Hawkeye Pierce in the season 6 episode "Temporary Duty." The storyline depicted Dupree as a highly capable surgeon, but even more fixated on extracurricular hijinks than the rest of the surgeons. In the end, Hawkeye's friend, B.J. Hunnicutt and nemesis, Charles Emerson Winchester III became so fed up that they joined forces to assure Dupree wouldn't remain long at the unit.
As "Goober" on Hee Haw (1972-1992):
Lindsey portrayed "Goober" for the third and last time on the syndicated country music variety show Hee Haw, playing a more rustic version of the character. He appeared on that show from 1972 to 1992.
Following Hee Haw, Lindsey had a brief cameo in the NewsRadio episode "Rose Bowl" as a witness in a consumer fraud civil case.
Honors and citations:
Lindsey raised over US$1,000,000 for Alabama Special Olympics through 17 years of the George Lindsey Celebrity Weekend and Golf Tournament in Montgomery, Alabama and another $50,000 for the Alabama Association of Retarded Citizens. and participated as Head Coach-Winter Games in the Minneapolis, Minnesota Special Olympics National Competition.
He established and perpetuated the George Lindsey Academic Scholarships at University of North Alabama. In 1992, the university gave him an honorary doctorate.
Lindsey was the 1995 recipient of the Governor's Achievement Award -- Alabama Music Hall of Fame. The State of Alabama named the "George Lindsey Highway" in Jasper, Alabama after the actor. In 1998, he established the George Lindsey/UNA Film Festival that takes place at the University of North Alabama annually in the spring.
He was the 1997 recipient of the Minnie Pearl Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2007 recipient of the first ICON Award presented by the Nashville Associations of Talent Directors.
His last guest appearance was on Larry the Cable Guy's Hula Palooza Christmas Luau in 2009.
Lindsey's autobiography, Goober in a Nutshell, was published in 1995.
Lindsey died on May 6, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee following a brief unspecified illness. He was 83. He was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in his hometown of Jasper, Alabama.