Jasper's own George 'Goober' Lindsey had big role in popular show's success
by Jennifer Cohron
Oct 10, 2010 | 9998 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
George ‘Goober’ LIndsey was raised in Jasper. (Photo Special to the Eagle)
George ‘Goober’ LIndsey was raised in Jasper. (Photo Special to the Eagle)
slideshow
Although Goober Pyle was most at home in Mayberry, the actor who gave him life was born and raised in Alabama.

George Lindsey grew up in Jasper and graduated from Walker High School, where his classmates voted him "funniest boy." He was also a member of the Radio Dramatic Club.

Lindsey attended Walker Junior College for a year and played on the school's first football team.

"We just had two footballs, a game ball and a practice ball," he said.

Lindsey earned a football scholarship to Florence State Teachers College, which is now the University of North Alabama. He graduated in 1952 with a degree in biological science and physical education.

After a stint in the Air Force, Lindsey taught at Hazel Green High School in Madison County for a year. However, his desire was to be an actor like the ones he had idolized as a young member of the local movie theater's Popeye Club.

Lindsey knew it would not be an easy task.

"I think it's hard to break in any time because you have to take somebody's place. I was just blindsided by the whole thing and never considered that I wouldn't be successful," Lindsey said.

He moved to New York and studied at the American Theater Wing for two years with actress Helen Hayes.

Lindsey appeared in several local productions and had major roles in two Broadway musicals, "All American" and "Wonderful Town," before relocating to Hollywood.

Lindsey's television credits included guest appearances on numerous non-comedic programs, such as "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "Daniel Boone," "Gunsmoke" "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," "The Rifleman" and "Twilight Zone."

Lindsey joked about his acting versatility, "I can't play a short man because I'm six feet tall. But other than that ..."

The role of Goober on "The Andy Griffith Show" made Lindsey a household name.

He originally auditioned for the part of Gomer Pyle, which was awarded to Sylacauga native Jim Nabors. When Nabors was given his own show, "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.," Lindsey was cast as Gomer's cousin, Goober, in 1964.

Lindsey said he enjoyed his four years of working on "The Andy Griffith Show."

"Andy was a great leader and very smart. He knew when a script was right or wrong," Lindsey said.

Lindsey listed "A Man's Best Friend," where Goober believes he owns a talking dog, as one of his favorite episodes from the series. He said he also enjoyed the scene from "Goober and the Art of Love" where Goober and Barney spy on Andy and Helen through the window.

After "The Andy Griffith Show" ended in 1968, Lindsey reprised the role of Goober on "Mayberry R.F.D." until 1971.

He continued to play Goober on the long-running variety show "Hee Haw" for 20 more years.

He also appeared in several movies during the 1970s and 1980s, including "Cannonball Run II."

Lindsey said that although he dreamed of being a movie star as a young man, starring in two of the longest-running programs on television had its advantages.

"With movies, they show them and you're never heard from again. I was in everybody's living room every week," Lindsey said.

One of the caps and a brown suit Lindsey wore on "The Andy Griffith Show" is now on display at the Andy Griffith Musuem in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

In addition to being a comedy legend, Lindsey is also a humanitarian.

He has raised over $1 million for the Special Olympics and conducted the George Lindsey Celebrity Golf Tournament in Montgomery for 17 years.

The annual George Lindsey/University of North Alabama Television and Film Festival has given young filmmakers an opportunity to show their work and hone their craft since 1998.

Lindsey said he is proud of his career and Walker County roots. However, all of his career goals have not been achieved yet.

"I always figured I could win the Academy Award, but it looks like they passed me over this year," he joked.