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