Friends remember 'Goober Pyle' actor Lindsey

Associated Press
FILE - This Feb. 5, 1998 file photo shows actor George Lindsey, who portrayed Goober in the television series "The Andy Griffith Show". Lindsey, who died Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 83, studied at the prestigious American Theater Wing in New York City and appeared in several TV westerns as well as dramas such as “The Twilight Zone” and “Alfred Hitchcock Hour” before landing the role of Goober Pyle in 1964. Lindsey embodied the role of Mayberry's good-natured mechanic for seven straight seasons, four on “The Andy Griffith Show” and three on its sequel, “Mayberry R.F.D.” To his fans, Lindsey would always be known as Goober, but friends and even casual acquaintances knew better than to confuse the man with his most famous part.(AP Photo/Montgomery Advertiser, Lloyd Gallman, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Actor George Lindsey was remembered Friday as the grinning Goober who made television viewers laugh for three decades on "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Hee Haw."

A public memorial service drew an estimated 400 people who paid last respects to Lindsey, 83, who died Sunday.

He was the beanie-wearing Goober on "The Andy Griffith Show" from 1964 to 1968 and its successor, "Mayberry RFD," from 1968 to 1971. He played the same jovial character, a mechanic, on "Hee Haw" from 1971 until it went out of production in 1993. Reruns of those shows are still seen on TV.

Griffith did not attend, but sent a statement that was read by country music broadcaster Keith Bilbrey at the service at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

"George was a better joke teller than me, and I will say here that I 'borrowed' jokes from George that he may have 'borrowed' from Minnie Pearl," Griffith confessed. "George told me his fondest memories in show business were the years he spent working on 'The Andy Griffith Show' and 'Mayberry RFD.' They were for me, too."

Singer Ray Stevens performed "Everything Is Beautiful" during the service.

"He warmed a lot of hearts with his brand of humor — wholesome, American humor," Stevens said before the service.

Actor Ernest Borgnine, Lindsey's close friend, sent a video tribute which was played at an informal gathering before the memorial. In it, Borgnine recalled the pranks they enjoyed playing down through the years.

"We loved to outdo each other," Borgnine said. "It was like therapy."

Also shown at the casual gathering in the church's fellowship hall were clips from Lindsey on "Hee Haw."

One of them: "Where was Solomon's temple?" Minnie Pearl asked him.

"Right on the side of his head," Lindsey responded.

Kenneth Junkin of Gordo, Ala., drove 300 miles to attend the service.

"He brought happiness into my life," Junkin said. "I had to come."

Several fellow performers from the two shows are dead, including Don Knotts (Barney Fife), Frances Bavier (Aunt Bee), Buck Owens, co-host of 'Hee Haw," and Minnie Pearl.

Lindsey also appeared on the TV shows "M(asterisk)A(asterisk)S(asterisk)H," ''Gunsmoke," ''The Wonderful World of Disney," ''CHIPs," The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour," ''The Real McCoys," ''Rifleman," ''The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," ''Twilight Zone" and "Love American style."

He had movie roles too, appearing in "Cannonball Run II" and "Take This Job and Shove It." His voice was used in animated Walt Disney features including "The Aristocats," ''The Rescuers" and "Robin Hood."

Lindsey is to be buried in Jasper, Ala., in his native state. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1992 by the University of North Alabama, and did much charity work for the state.

On display at the service was a framed tribute to him placed into the Congressional Record in 2001 and the cover of a Capitol Records album titled "Goober Sings!"

Another video clip shown was Lindsey walking on stage on "The Johnny Cash" TV show, proclaiming: "Hello I'm Tom Jones."