George Lindsey Died Eight Years Ago — Life and Death of 'The Andy Griffith Show' Star
In 2012, the world of comedy became a little sadder when the death of comedian George Lindsey was announced.
George Lindsey, who has trained to become a biology teacher at the Florence State Teacher's College, but he fell in love with acting, and became one of the most beloved characters in the popular "The Andy Griffith Show."
For years, Lindsey made America laugh as Goober Pyle, and fans were shocked at the announcement of his death at the age of 83 from heart failure.
Lindsey's philanthropy was not limited to the Special Olympics, and he was also committed to raising funds for the Alabama Association of Retarded Citizens
George Lindsey as Goober Pyle in "The Andy Griffith Show" | Source: Wikimedia
REMEMBERING GEORGE LINDSEY
As the news of the actor's death spread around the world, tributes and condolences flooded in. Among them was Andy Griffith, long-time friend, and colleague, who had spoken to Lindsey just days before his passing. He revealed:
“Our last conversation was a few days ago. We would talk about our health, how much we missed our friends who passed before us and usually about something funny."
To the very last, Griffin revealed, Lindsey kept his sense of humor and his irrepressible joy in life, and his love of comedy.
Poster for the "Andy Griffith Show" | Source: Shutterstock
AN ACCIDENTAL COMEDIAN
But Lindsey didn't set out to become a comedian. He quit teaching to study acting at the American Theater Wing in New York and made his acting debut on Broadway in "Wonderful Town" and "All American."
The cast of "The Andy Griffith Show" in 1963 | Source: Getty Images
In 1962 Lindsey moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career, and landed guest spots on several TV hit westerns: "Gunsmoke", "The Rifleman", and "Daniel Boone;" followed by a foray into the fantastic with "The Twilight Zone," "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour."
However, his breakthrough came when he was cast as Goober Pyle in the rural sitcom "The Andy Griffith Show," where his comedic talent had audiences in stitches. Goober Pyle was to define Lindsey as an actor and he would reprise the role in CBS’s "Hee Haw."
GOOBER PYLE AGAIN
CBS's variety show "Hee Haw" focused on country music, country living, and was a perfect setting for Lindsey's country bumpkin character Goober Pyle. Lindsey was to play Goober on "Hee Haw" from 1972, to 1992 and is forever identified with the role.
George Lindsey in the 1973 television special "The Orange Blossom Special" | Source: Wikimedia
"And then even my mother started calling me [Goober], and I know she knew my name..."
Leonard Nimoy as Spock in "Star Trek: The Original Series" | Source: Wikimedia
Both Leonard Nimoy and Ernest Borgnine would reveal that when "Star Trek" was being cast, Gene Roddenberry's first choice for Spock was George Lindsey -- who turned down the iconic role of the pointy-eared Vulcan who never laughed.
VOICING FOR DISNEY
Lindsey would lend his comedic genius to the Walt Disney Studios as a voice actor in three of their animation features: "The Aristocats" as Lafayette, "Robin Hood" as Trigger, the Vulture; and "The Rescuers" as Deadeye, The Rabbit.
THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS
Lindsey used his fame to raise $1 million for the Alabama Special Olympics, hosting the George Lindsey Celebrity Weekend and Golf Tournament. Lindsey participated in the Minnesota Special Olympics National Competition as Head Coach for the Winter Games.
George Lindsey in 1982 in "Hee Haw" | Source: Wikimedia
Lindsey's philanthropy was not limited to the Special Olympics, and he was also committed to raising funds for the Alabama Association of Retarded Citizens and created the George Lindsey Academic Scholarships at the University of North Alabama to provide tuition for underprivileged students.
GOODBYE TO GOOBER
Lindsey married Joyanne Herbert, with whom he shared son George Lindsey, Jr., daughter Camden Jo in 1955. The marriage ended in divorce in 1992, and Lindsey never remarried but maintained a life-long relationship with companion Anne Wilson.
Lindsey is survived by his two children, Wilson, and his grandsons Carson Cole Gardner and Andrew Liam Gardner.
He left behind him a rich enduring legacy of laughter, and compassion, a legacy any man would be proud of.