Andy Griffith Reaction To George Lindsey’s Death, George Lindsey dies at 83; ‘The Andy Griffith Show’s’ Goober Pyle, The character actor played Mayberry’s genial auto mechanic, the cousin of naive gas station attendant Gomer Pyle. He also was a regular on ‘Hee Haw.’ George Lindsey, the Southern-born character actor who played dim hayseed Goober Pyle, the genial gas station auto mechanic on “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Mayberry R.F.D.,” died early Sunday morning. He was 83.
Lindsey, who later was a regular on the long-running country music comedy show “Hee Haw,” died at a healthcare center in Nashville after a brief illness, said his manager and booking agent, Carrie Moore-Reed.
“George Lindsey was my friend,” Andy Griffith said in a statement. “I had great respect for his talent and his human spirit.”
Noting that he had his last conversation with Lindsey a few days ago, Griffith said: “I am happy to say that as we found ourselves in our 80s, we were not afraid to say, ‘I love you.’ That was the last thing George and I had to say to each other. ‘I love you.’ ”
“The Andy Griffith Show,” the classic 1960s situation comedy starring Griffith as the kindly sheriff of Mayberry, N.C., was in its fourth season in 1964 when Lindsey first appeared as the cousin of naive gas station attendant Gomer Pyle, played by Jim Nabors.
Lindsey’s character became more prominent after Nabors left the show to star in the spin-off series “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” in 1964.
As Goober, Lindsey wore a brown felt beanie with turned-up scalloped edges and had a tire gauge, pens and pencils stuffed into the pocket of his work shirt and a rag hanging out of the back pocket of his high-waisted pants.
“I had a lot of trouble with that part,” he said in a 2005 interview with Alabama’s Montgomery Advertiser newspaper. “I’d been playing a lot of heavy character roles. I’d done them on ‘Alfred Hitchcock,’ and ‘Twilight Zone’ and some others, and at first I found myself just doing an impersonation of Jim Nabors doing Gomer. I finally said, ‘Look, tell me about this guy and who he is.’ ”
Lindsey often recalled that Griffith told him, “Goober’s the kind of guy that would go into a restaurant and say, ‘This is great salt.’ ”
“Andy Griffith turned out to be the greatest teacher I’ve ever had,” Lindsey, an Alabama native, told The Times in 1968. “He kept tellin’ me to play myself, to let it happen to me, instead of trying to be funny.”
Over the years, fans of the show often would ask Lindsey to repeat a line he said during his first appearance on the series: a scene in Sheriff Andy Taylor’s office in which Gomer asks Goober to do his “take-off on Cary Grant” for Andy.