George Lindsey, the Southern-born character actor who played dim hayseed Goober Pyle, the genial gas station auto mechanic on “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Mayberry R.F.D.,” died early Sunday. He was 83.
Lindsey, who later was a regular on the long-running country music comedy show “Hee Haw,” died at a health-care center in Nashville, Tenn., after a brief illness, said his manager and booking agent, Carrie Moore-Reed.
“George Lindsey was my friend,” Andy Griffith said in a statement. “I had great respect for his talent and his human spirit.”
Noting that he had his last conversation with Lindsey a few days ago, Griffith said: “I am happy to say that as we found ourselves in our 80s, we were not afraid to say, ‘I love you.’ That was the last thing George and I had to say to each other. ‘I love you.’ ”
“The Andy Griffith Show,” the 1960s situation comedy starring Griffith as the kindly sheriff of Mayberry, N.C., was in its fourth season in 1964 when Lindsey first appeared as the cousin of naive gas station attendant Gomer Pyle, played by Jim Nabors.
Lindsey’s character became more prominent after Nabors left the show to star in the spinoff series “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” in 1964.