Pre-Ramble: George Lindsey, the actor who became best known for his portrayal of country-bumpkin, gas station attendant, Goober Pyle, on a series of sit-coms in the 60′s, died yesterday at the age of 83.
“Gahoowllay!! … ” As a minor cast member in the long-running Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry RFD and a show starring his goofy cousin “Gomer Pyle,” Lindsey was consistently daft. I couldn’t have been older than 7 or 8 when “Goober” was establishing the persona which would define his acting career, but even then I was pretty sure that he was one of the most tedious and annoying characters I had ever encountered (closely followed by Floyd and Otis). I distinctly remember leaving the room, or actually skipping an entire episode of the folksy show if the plot line featured more of Goober than I could tolerate.
What’s in a name? After all these years, I have to wonder whether the Goober character was a matter of blissful type casting, or if Lindsey himself grew tired of playing the hapless role. The professional parameters must have been challenging. If your character’s name is Goober, as opposed to say, Mack, Dex, or Raylan, you pretty much know how that is supposed to go … lots of “golly, gee-whiz” lines, misplacing things, and tripping over stuff. Once you’ve got that down, where is there to go?
The Take-Away: Lindsey’s bio mentions his work on several other shows … “Gunsmoke,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” … etc. But, frankly, once a Goober, always a Goober. Who wants to be known throughout what qualifies as a Hollywood career as “that stupid Goober character”? Sure, it probably more than paid the bills (guffawing all the way to the bank), but I wonder whether, if given a different moniker and attitude, George Lindsey the actor could have gone on to distinguish himself as another Bogart or Heston.
“Judy, Judy, Judy … ” ….. maybe not.