‘Andy Griffith Show’ Actor George Lindsey ‘Dreaded Going in to Work’ When Andy Griffith Wasn’t Happy

Andy Griffith, George Lindsey, and Howard McNear in a scene from 'The Andy Griffith Show', 1966
Andy Griffith, George Lindsey, and Howard McNear in a scene from ‘The Andy Griffith Show’, 1966 | (c) CBS/Courtesy of Getty Images

Actor Andy Griffith may have played the easygoing Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, but according to the actor who portrayed Goober Pyle on the beloved classic comedy, art did not imitate life.

George Lindsey who joined the show’s cast in its fourth season, claimed that Griffith could be punishing to those actors he felt weren’t doing their best in his eyes.

George Lindsey was invited to play Gomer Pyle on the series

(left to right): Jim Nabors and George Lindsey in 1986's 'Return to Mayberry'
(left to right): Jim Nabors and George Lindsey in 1986’s ‘Return to Mayberry’ | Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

When Lindsey was being considered for the cast of the classic show, he had been told he would be playing innocent and naive Gomer Pyle. Andy Griffith, however, asked the show’s executive producer Aaron Ruben to first meet performer Jim Nabors.

Ruben was as impressed with Nabors as Griffith was, according to Andy and Don author Daniel de Visé.

“So in comes Jim Nabors,” he wrote. “He has a script, he reads, and what he lacked in professionalism and experience he made up for with a certain naive charm that he had.”

Lindsey lost the role of Gomer Pyle to Nabors

A scene from 'The Andy Griffith Show'
A scene from ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ | CBS via Getty Images

According to the author, Lindsey was disappointed at having plans changed on him so suddenly and finding out he was being cast instead in the much less visible role of Gomer’s cousin Goober Pyle.

“George had won the part of Gomer in the first place, only to lose it to Jim,” de Visé wrote.

“A year later, George had not forgiven him. ‘Jim and I didn’t have a lot of interaction off camera during the filming of that episode,’ George recalled.”

Griffith would reportedly punish actors with ‘silence’

Andy Griffith on the set of The Andy Griffith Show
Andy Griffith, right, and George Lindsey | CBS via Getty Images

As de Visé reported, once Don Knotts’ fifth season departure took place, “Andy’s mood darkened perceptibly in the final years of the Griffith Show. Without Don there to buoy his spirits, Andy laughed less.”

Lindsey, according to the author, stated that most of the cast “came to fear [Griffith’s] silence. Most of us were deathly afraid of Andy. We were all scared to make a move. If Andy thought something was funny, then it was funny to us. He literally controlled every aspect of that show.”

The actor described how he came to know that he had invited Griffith’s disappointment in him. Griffith wouldn’t yell or belittle anyone on the set as could be said of other shows. He would instead punish by withholding any affirmation, encouragement, or feedback of any kind.

“Every Monday night, Andy would call you if he liked the show and your performance,” he said. “So I waited for the call. If it didn’t come, I absolutely dreaded going in to work on Tuesday morning.”

Lindsey remained on the Griffith Show until its eighth and final season. He went on to be part of the show’s spin-off Mayberry R.F.D., which lasted three seasons.