Veteran actor George Lindsey died Sunday May 6, 2012 in Nashville after a brief illness. Reports state that Lindsey was 83, but according to the Internet Movie Data Base Lindsey was born in 1935 making him 76.
Fellow actorsaid of Lindsey, “George Lindsey was my friend. I had great respect for his talent and his human spirit.”
He was, an only child, born in the Alabama town of Fairfield on December 17 but was raised in the nearby town of Jasper. As a child, Lindsey would do anything for a laugh, but it was a production of the musical “Oklahoma” at the age of 14 that sealed Lindsey’s decision to be an actor when he grew up. But before making a name for himself on the Great White Way, Lindsey attended college where he was the quarterback of the football team, acted in the theater, and majored in biological science and physical education. Lindsey graduated from the Florence State Teachers College – now the University of Northern Alabama – in 1952. After college, Lindsey enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed in Orlando, Florida as the recreational director.. Lindsey taught high school for a year before leaving for New York.
Lindsey began his professional career in New York City on Broadway performing in the musicals “All American” and “Wonderful Town”.
Lindsey was best known for his role as the goofball gas station attendant in Mayberry and Gomer Pyle’s cousin Goober Pyle; but he made his television debut in 1963 in an episode of “The Rifleman”. Speaking on Goober once in an interview Lindsey said, “America has grown up with me. Goober is every man, everyone finds something to like about ol’ Goober.” Lindsey said that no matter where he went, people knew who Goober was.
More than an actor, Lindsey also performed stand up comedy, writing all of his own material. One of his jokes had a football coach addressing his quarterback.
Coach (holding a football): Son can you pass this?
Quarterback: Coach, I don’t even think I can swallow it.
Lindsey may have been known for his long standing role as Goober, but he played a number of other roles over the years including an episode of “The Twilight Zone”, an episode of “Daniel Boone”, three episodes of “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour”, an episode of “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”, an episode of “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”, 86 episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show”, the voice of Fafayette in “The AristoCats”, an episode of “The New Andy Griffith Show”, 58 episodes of “Mayberry R.F.D.” as Goober Pyle, six episodes of “Gunsmoke” – including an episode the where he shot Sheriff, “Hee Haw”, four episodes of “Love American Style”, Capt. Roy Dupree in an episode of “M*A*S*H”, Norris Scoggins in an episode of “Fantasy Island”, the man at the gas station in “Take this Job and Shove it”, an episode of “ChiPS”, Wally in an episode of the television series “Herbie the Love Bug”, Uncle Cal in “Cannonball Run II”, “Return to Mayberry”, and his final role as various voicing including the King in the Starzinger trilogy.
When not acting, Lindsey spent his spare time working with the Alabama Special Olympics. Lindsey held an annual golf tournament for 17 years raising money for the organization, raising over one million dollars.
According to the IMDB, “Star Trek” staronce revealed that he was not the first choice of show creator to portray the role of Spock; Roddenberry’s first choice was George Lindsey.
Lindsey is survived by children George Jr. and Camden Jo, grandchildren Carson Cole and Andre Liam, cousin Rebecca, and longtime partner Anne Wilson.