Do you remember the actor George Lindsey?
By PETER KEEPNEWS
Published: May 6, 2012
George Lindsey, the Alabama-born actor and comedian best known for playing the good-natured if none-too-bright gas station attendant Goober on three television series, died on Sunday in Nashville. He was 83.
George Lindsey in 1985.
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His death was announced by the Marshall Donnelly Combs Funeral Home in Nashville. Mr. Lindsey had been in poor health after a stroke in March.
He introduced the character of Goober — the quintessential grinning hayseed, equal parts annoying and endearing — on “The Andy Griffith Show,” the long-running situation comedy set in the fictional North Carolina town of Mayberry. When Jim Nabors’s character, the similarly likable but naïve Gomer Pyle, was given his own series in 1964, Mr. Lindsey joined the Griffith show as Goober Pyle, Gomer’s cousin.
Goober outlived “The Andy Griffith Show” by many years. When Mr. Griffith left after the 1967-68 season to pursue a movie career, the setting and some of the characters were retained, and the show was reinvented as “Mayberry R.F.D.,” with Ken Berry as the star. Mr. Lindsey was one of several actors who continued in their old roles.
The character later found yet another home. Shortly after “Mayberry R.F.D.” was canceled in 1971, Mr. Lindsey joined the cast of “Hee Haw,” the syndicated variety show that blended country music and hokey comedy. He was once again a goofy gas station attendant, and he once again wore the beanie that was Goober’s trademark, although his castmates usually addressed him on camera as George. He remained with “Hee Haw” for more than 20 years.
George Smith Lindsey was born in Fairfield, Ala., on Dec. 17, 1928, the only child of George Ross Lindsey and the former Alice Smith, and grew up in Jasper, Ala. (Many sources wrongly give the year of his birth as 1935.) He attended Florence State Teachers College, now the University of North Alabama, where he played quarterback on the football team and acted in campus theatrical productions, and graduated in 1952 with a degree in biology and physical education.
After spending three years in the Air Force he moved to New York, where he studied at the American Theater Wing and performed as a comedian in local nightclubs. In 1962 he appeared on Broadway in the short-lived musical “All American,” but his acting career did not gain momentum until he and his family moved to Los Angeles, where he was soon appearing on “Gunsmoke,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and other television shows.
Mr. Lindsey, who had lived in Nashville for many years, is survived by his companion, Anne Wilson; his son, George Jr.; his daughter, Camden Jo Lindsey Gardner; and two grandsons. His marriage to Joyanne Herbert ended in divorce.
The character of Goober was not to everyone’s taste. Some critics considered Mr. Lindsey’s portrayal of a rural Southerner a demeaning caricature. Mr. Lindsey disagreed.
“Goober is every man,” he told The Associated Press in 1985. “Everyone finds something to like about ol’ Goober.”
A version of this article appeared in print on May 7, 2012, on page A21
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