Why ‘Andy Griffith Show’ Star George Lindsey Felt Playing Goober Was ‘A Blessing and a Curse’

From the moment actor George Lindsey assumed the part of Mayberry mechanic Goober Pyle on the classic comedy The Andy Griffith Show, he stepped into what many actors fear most: a typecast role.

Lindsey would forever be known to television viewers and the industry at large as “Goober,” and it was a name that he grew to love and loathe.

American actors Andy Griffith, George Lindsey, and Howard McNear sit outside Floyd's barber shop in a still from the television series, 'The Andy Griffith Show,' circa 1966.
Actors Andy Griffith, George Lindsey, and Howard McNear from ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ | CBS/Courtesy of Getty Images

Lindsey joined the cast of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ in 1964

The Goober Pyle actor became part of The Andy Griffith Show cast in the show’s fourth season. His first appearance was in the episode titled “The Fun Girls.”

After the Griffith Show ended in 1968, Lindsey remained on its spin-off Mayberry, R.F.D. along with Aunt Bee actor Frances Bavier, Hope Summers who portrayed Clara Edwards, Emmett Clark actor Paul Hartman, and Jack Dodson, who played Howard Sprague.

Lindsey, however, didn’t find the new comedy nearly to his liking as the original series.

George Lindsey, left, with Frances Bavier on the set of 'The Andy Griffith Show'
George Lindsey, right, with Frances Bavier on the set of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ |
CBS via Getty Images

“I never felt that the scripts on Mayberry, R.F.D. were as strong as those for The Andy Griffith Show,” Lindsey wrote in his memoir Goober in a Nutshell. “No doubt that had a lot to do with the fact that Andy Griffith, though still executive producer, only appeared in a handful of episodes and was not as directly involved on the set and with the scripts.”

It wasn’t the quantity of lines that bothered Lindsey, the actor explained. It was the quality.

“Goober had a lot more lines in Mayberry, R.F.D., but in all honesty, they usually didn’t measure up to the razor-sharp standards of the original series,” he said.

Lindsey couldn’t find work after ‘Goober’

George Lindsey appears on 'Hollywood Squares' in 1980
George Lindsey appears on ‘Hollywood Squares’ in 1980 | Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank

The star had become the ultimate typecast actor. Lindsey revealed that after the end of Mayberry, R.F.D. he had a difficult time finding any work that didn’t hinge on his Southern “hillbilly” character.

“I had always assumed that when the day did come when “Mayberry, R.F.D.” was over, I’d just roll on to another show,” he wrote. “When that didn’t happen, it was surprising and extremely frustrating for me. It was a totally sudden change to go from being a performer on a top TV show to absolutely nothing. I had lost my spotlight and my stage for performing and I hated the emptiness.”

Actors George Lindsey as Goober Pyle and Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor in a photo from 'The Andy Griffith Show'
Actors George Lindsey and Andy Griffith from ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ |
CBS via Getty Images

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Eventually, Lindsey said, he found work on the country music variety show Hee Haw.

“I had to really work to persuade Hee Haw producer Sam Lovullo that there was a need for me on that show,” he wrote. “Of course, it was really Goober that he wanted, and Sam received permission from Mayberry Enterprises, the partnership that owned the Mayberry shows, for me to use the Goober name and wear the Goober wardrobe on Hee Haw.”

Why Lindsey embraced and rejected life as ‘Goober’

Andy Griffith looks over Goober Pyle actor George Lindsey as he reads a comic book in a scene from 'The Andy Griffith Show,' 1965
Andy Griffith and George Lindsey in a scene from ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ |
CBS via Getty Images

“Even beyond Mayberry, Goober’s shadow continued to completely dominate my life,” Lindsey said.

After the dust had settled on his Mayberry years, Lindsey yearned to return to “the legitimate theater,” where his training had been, but “Hollywood and the public demanded that I continue to just be Goober. My friend Goober had become a blessing and a curse.”