05/07/12 - NNHS Newsletter - George Lindsey
George Smith Lindsey
Walker High School, Jasper, Alabama, Class of 1946
Friends and Schoolmates,
We have more sad news to report today. Beloved actor George Lindsey, Walker High School, Jasper, Alabama, Class of 1946, passed away in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday, May 06, 2012 at the age of 83.
FromRip Collins ('65) of TN - 05/07/12, 6:03 PM:
I am sorry to hear of your illness and hope all is well by the time you receive this email. Attached is a memorial to my close friend George who passed away early Sunday morning. I told him I would do this because George wanted to always to be remembered as a great actor and comedian. I only knew the man.
Thank you so much, Rip. I am
honored to do this for your dear friend. You have my deepest
condolences on his passing.
I believe most of us would like to write about a friend or relative that has recently passed away, but figure, not many people knew this person and in reality who would have as much interest as I do. In this case everyone knows George.
Shortly after moving to Nashville in 1993, I was in my backyard working when this older gentleman came over to introduce himself. Wow, did he ever. He went on and on about acting career and his association with some of the greatest such as Ernest Borgnine (24 Jan 1917 - 08 July 2012), Don Knotts (21 July 1924 - 24 Feb 2006), Lee Marvin (19 Feb 1924 - 29 Aug 1987), Chuck Connors (10 Apr 1921 - 10 Nov 1992), James Arness (26 May 1923 - 03 June 2011), etc. The problem was that I am not a groupie and had very little interest in the lives and life styles of the acting community. I excused myself and got back to work on my backyard project. I told my wife Janis of the encounter and she reminded me of how rude I was and that I should have given George more recognition and admiration. She considered him a great actor and icon. I guess I could have been politer, but got back to work on an inside home project. There was a knock at that door. There stood George with some old VHS tapes of movies or shows where he played different roles. He suggested that I review the tapes and return them when I was done. It was kind of neat reviewing these old films: Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, and some others. OK, I then started feeling bad. Old George had brought these films over to prove his creditability as an actor. It was not that I was questioning his acting career; I just was not a great movie fan. After reviewing the films, I decided to convert them to DVD’s and then return the VHS tapes and DVD’s to George as a peace offering. George did not care about the peace offering; he just wanted to confirm that he was a great actor (what an ego!).
George had moved to Nashville from California with the advent of Hee-Haw. At that time he left his family for this new pursuit and would never return to his family except on an occasional visit with his children. Mostly he lived the life of a hermit, doing an occasional commercial, carnivals and at least 1 movie. He did not like most people, but those he did like, you would certainly know it and appreciate it. He could be a giving and caring person.
George immediately found favor with my wife. I guess because she had such admiration for this man and at the same time she was married to a guy who just could not grasp George’s importance as an actor and comedian, while he would have to make it the rest of his life’s commitment to prove how great he was. George, would come over to our house quite often throughout the years to party (only a little – did not like to be around people drinking), have dinner with us (he loved Janis’s collards and cooked cabbage) and to bring us gifts. He attended our oldest daughter’s wedding and I wish I could have gotten him down to Ole Miss to see our youngest daughter cheer.
George had his own annual film festival down in Florence, AL, home of his Alma Mater, University of N. Alabama. The first time he asked us to go and at least participate in the awards dinner, I did not want to go. Janis did and so we went. It turned out to be a lot of fun. There are hundreds of potential film artists and non-professionals who have created films of various content and they are shown all over town and at the University. They are judged and the winners win cash prizes. Upon our first trip, we rode with the motorcade to pick up one of George’s best friends, Ernest Borgnine. We all had pictures taken together and returned to this beautiful campus for dinner at the Chancellor’s house. Each year George would invite us to this event, but we could not make it every year.
Around 1999 George decided he wanted to play tennis with me and would bug me about it all the time. I kept trying to put it off and even tried to talk him out of it because I was afraid I might wear him out. He insisted. I told George that he should be aware that I was not a great tennis player but could win because of trick shots. He did not care. He was determined. We volleyed around for awhile until he said he was ready to play. He served first, then I. Upon his first volley back, I put a back spin on the ball, close to the net. He charged the net and fell forward in a head first dive. I jumped the net to check on him, whereupon I found him bleeding from the forehead, nose and ear. He yelled for me to get him some water. I ran back to the car to get water and upon my return, poured the water over his head to wash off the sweat and blood. This angered him and he said, “I did not want to be baptized, you asshole, I need water to drink”. Thus, my new nickname which he would call me for the balance of his life.
This is George Lindsey I am referencing. Mayberry R.F.D., The Andy Griffith Show, Hee-Haw. Goober (he hated to be “Goobed” by the public). If you ever recited, “Judy, Judy, Judy” to him, he would walk away.
George and Andy Griffith (01 June 1926 - 03 July 2012) really never got along. About 5 years ago, George unexpectedly called me from an Andy Griffith Show convention in LA and told me that he had tried to win favor with Andy but Andy would have nothing to do with him. I suggested that he tell Andy that whatever the barriers that Andy may have against him, that George apologize and that in their waning years that they should form a final friendship that will be remembered by all. He called an hour later and said it appeared to work.
Later, around 2009, George was rushed to the hospital suffering from a lack of potassium. By the time Janis and I got to the hospital, his vital signs were not good and he lay in bed moaning and groaning and incoherent. A group of friends and relatives had gathered around and had tried to inspire George to show some sign of recovery. It did not work. When we arrived, George’s girlfriend knowing how much George liked our company asked my wife if she would say something to him that might motivate George to recognize a voice. My wife said, “George, it is Janis and I have the “asshole” with me”. He then stopped rolling around in bed and a big smile came upon his face. All there laughed and clapped their hands. He later recovered.
George’s health never really returned to normal after this incident, but his mind was mostly sharp. He would always remind me, ”What do you expect out of a 83 year old man?” Of course I would remind him that his best buddy Ernest Borgnine was 93 and still acting. He would then start calling me by my revised nickname.
In April, George had fallen in his bathroom and was wedged between the sink and wall for at least 10 hours before being discovered. He had suffered a major stroke and one side of his body was paralyzed. 2 weeks ago, he had a brain scan and his son, George Jr. told me that his brains appeared as though there was no chance of recovery. He was taken off his feeding tube. Janis and I had been visiting with him each weekend over the past 3 weeks and I told Janis that I could not go back and watch him die in the nursing home he hated [Minnie Pearl (25 Oct 1912 - 04 Mar 1996), had died in this nursing home and because of this, he hated the place]. My wife had suggested that it was a good probability that George would pass away when his daughter came to visit from CA. She arrived this past Saturday afternoon. She visited with him and George held her hand. At about midnight, she excused herself to use the bathroom. George left us about 12:05 AM Sunday morning.
Goodbye old friend. I promise I will do my best to watch those re-runs.
~ Rip “the a--hole”
From obits.dignitymemorial.com - 05/07/12:
NASHVILLE, TENN., May 6,
2012-George Lindsey, the actor best known for his portrayal of dim yet
lovable gas station mechanic Goober Pyle on "The Andy Griffith Show," died
at 12:05 a.m. on Sunday,
May 6 after a brief illness. He was 83.
Born in Fairfield, Ala., on December 17, 1928, George Smith Lindsey was raised in Jasper, Ala., and was the only child of Alice Smith Lindsey and George Ross Lindsey. As a young boy, Lindsey's best buddies were his dog One Spot and his pal Sappo, a lifelong friend and a popular foil for Lindsey's stand-up comedy act.
Lindsey liked to hang around his
Aunt Ethel's gas station, where the mechanics wore felt caps to keep the grease
and oil from dripping into their hair. Those caps would inspire Lindsey's
trademark "beanie" worn by Goober..
Gas station notwithstanding, the Lindsey family of George's youth felt the full weight of the Great Depression. Those hard times were later a rich source of material for his comedy act, with jokes guaranteed to get a laugh, such as: "We were so poor that we'd eat beans for breakfast, drink water for lunch and swell up for supper."
As a student in Jasper, Lindsey was a good athlete. At Walker County High School, he excelled in football and basketball. One of the few other official high school activities he enjoyed was doing theatrical productions. He was as surprised as anybody when he graduated high school. With no real plans for his future other than a desire to be in the spotlight, Lindsey enrolled in local Walker Junior College. After being invited not to come back for a second semester at Walker, Lindsey enrolled (that is to say, "was sent away") for a year of junior college at Kemper Military School in Boonville, Mo.
Next up was the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Lindsey lasted a semester there, but couldn't afford the tuition for a second semester. It was probably just as well. As he joked in his 1995 autobiography, Goober in a Nutshell, "I was in remedial everything. I was even in remedial lunch." He was, however, able to scrape together enough money to enroll at Florence State Teachers College (now the University of North Alabama).
Lindsey thrived in Florence. He eventually rose to starting quarterback for the football team. His football prowess earned him a much needed scholarship, which allowed him to finish his collegiate career at Florence State. He also performed regularly with the college theater group. He graduated in 1952 with a degree in biological science and physical education.
His alma mater in Florence remained a passion for Lindsey the rest of his life. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the university in 1992 and was inducted into the university's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011. He was proud to be a co-founder of the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival in 1998. Several scholarships are also endowed in his name. The university is home to the George Lindsey Collection, which contains most of his television and movie scripts and much of his other career memorabilia. Lindsey was proudly on hand during the film festival in March of this year for the dedication of the George Lindsey Theater on the UNA campus.
After he graduated from college, Lindsey joined the Air Force. He was assigned to special services and to be a swimming instructor. At one point during his service at Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico, he served as personal lifeguard for General Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command.
Much of his time with the Air Force was spent at Pinecastle Air Force Base near Orlando. He was responsible for putting together plays and other entertainment for the servicemen. He also worked on plays at nearby Rollins College in Winter Haven. It was at Rollins that Lindsey met and fell in love with Joyanne Herbert. They were married in 1955.
After Lindsey was discharged from the Air Force, the newlyweds moved to his home turf in Alabama. With his college degree (and a teacher's certificate) and Air Force experience, Lindsey landed a job coaching basketball and baseball and teaching history at Hazel Green High School in Madison County.
"I was the worst teacher in the world," Lindsey later said. After a painful year at Hazel Green High, Lindsey decided to put everyone out of the misery of his teaching. He was accepted at the prestigious American Theater Wing in New York City. With the help of GI Bill funds, he studied at the American Theater Wing for two years and loved every minute of it. To help pay the bills during and after this time, he worked as a comedian and actor in nightclubs and coffeehouses. He was noticed by agents from the William Morris Agency, and he signed with them to represent him.
Before long, Lindsey landed the role of Moose in the production of All American at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre and later the role of the Wreck in an industrial show version of Wonderful Town, which toured the country after premiering on Broadway. He also began to get some work in television. But by far Lindsey's biggest hit during this time was the birth of his son George in 1962. In his father's eyes, a star was born.
The growing Lindsey family was soon following their dream to California. Most of Lindsey's early Hollywood work was as tough guys and bad guys, mostly in westerns, such as "The Rifleman" and "Gunsmoke." He also appeared in the "The Real McCoys," "The Twilight Zone," several Disney productions and three episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Hour," most notably the episode titled "The Jar," one of his favorite performances.
Lindsey got a call in 1962 to audition for the one-episode role of a gas station attendant on "The Andy Griffith Show." He thought he had the job, but at the last minute Jim Nabors was given the role of Gomer Pyle, which evolved into a bigger part and a springboard to stardom for Nabors. When Lindsey saw that first episode featuring Gomer, he famously kicked in the screen on the television set in his living room. As he wrote in his autobiography, he was furious about losing the part. "Not only that, but now I didn't have a TV to watch 'Ben Casey' on."
Not to worry. Lindsey's destiny was still Mayberry. In 1964, Lindsey landed the role of Gomer's cousin Goober Pyle, who was to be Gomer's heir apparent at Mayberry's filling station. Seven full seasons of acting work as Goober followed for Lindsey, four on "The Andy Griffith Show" and then three on the sequel series, "Mayberry R.F.D."
And from there bloomed a career of both embracing and running from Goober-most prominently during two decades as a regular on the syndicated "Hee Haw" on which he dressed as Goober but was usually addressed as George. Over the years, Lindsey made his peace with the role that had pigeonholed him. As he wrote in his "What Mayberry Means to Me" poem, which he used as his signature finale for his stand-up act for 30 years, "The thing I like about Mayberry, most of all, it's made ol' Goober rich!"
Shortly after landing the role of Goober on "The Andy Griffith Show," Lindsey upstaged himself with the birth of his beautiful daughter Camden. With son George now two, the Lindsey family of 1964 was hitting on all cylinders and "running like a scalded dog."
Lindsey had become one of the busiest performers in show business. He was a frequent guest star on top television shows and made countless guest appearances on talk shows and game shows. Movie roles, including voice-over work for favorite Disney animated features, and a full slate of stand-up comedy, both as a headliner and as an opening act for top country music acts, kept Lindsey in demand. He was also spokesperson for Getty Oil Truck Stops and Liberty Trouser Company, and he opened a chain of fleetingly successful George Lindsey's Family Steak Houses. He even recorded a few albums of both comedy and country music, including tunes by some of Nashville's top songwriters and a few that Lindsey co-wrote.
Through it all, Lindsey always found time to support good causes. He was a fixture at charity fundraisers. The cause closest to his heart was Special Olympics. His annual George Lindsey Celebrity Golf Weekend raised over $1,000,000 for Alabama Special Olympics from 1973 to 1988. One of the legacies of that effort was the George Lindsey Aquatic Center in Tuscaloosa.
When Lindsey was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1983, it was in recognition of his work as a "Youth Benefactor" for Special Olympics more so than for his own athletic accomplishments in high school and college. His receipt of the Minnie Pearl Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997 was also primarily in recognition of his charitable works. For that reason and because comedienne Minnie Pearl had been such an important friend in his life, Lindsey often said that award was the one that meant the most to him. (That's not to say that he didn't also appreciate receiving the Tire Gauge to the City of Nashville during Goober Pyle Day in 1990-presented on behalf of the city's mayor by country music's Bellamy Brothers.)
After "Hee Haw" ended production in 1992, Lindsey, who was recently divorced, made his permanent home in Nashville. He maintained a busy schedule of stage and film work. He embraced the Goober character to the point that he often gave up his customary tuxedo and wore the "Goober Suit" for his stand-up shows. In the wake of the hit Return to Mayberry made-for-TV movie in 1986, Lindsey's appearances at Mayberry reunion shows and festivals drew large crowds of enthusiastic fans over the next two decades. Several television retrospectives for "The Andy Griffith Show" also garnered high ratings. In 2004, Lindsey shared the TV Land Legend Award with other members of the "Griffith" cast and crew.
In addition to hosting the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival the last 15 years, Lindsey continued to find varied and fulfilling work. From NBC's "News Radio" in 1997 and serving as host of the Turner South series "Liars & Legends" in 2000 to the country music single and video for "Find Me a Man Like Goober" in 2007 and Larry the Cable Guy's "Hula -Palooza Christmas Luau" in 2009, Lindsey constantly found opportunities to savor the spotlight and bring smiles to as many faces as possible. He was an eager participant in "Salute to the Kornfield," a "Hee Haw" reunion created for both a series of DVDs in 2011 and a cable TV special this year.
Lindsey often commented that he was torn about what he wanted his tombstone to say. One choice goes for the joke: "I told you I was sick." The other goes for the heart: "I hope I made you laugh."
George Lindsey is survived by son George Lindsey, Jr., of Woodland Hills, Calif.; daughter Camden Jo Lindsey Gardner, her husband Russell and their sons, Carson Cole Gardner and Andrew Liam Gardner, all of Valencia, Calif.; a cousin, Rebecca Weber of Gadsden, Ala.; and his dear companion of many years, Anne Wilson of Nashville, Tenn.
Visitation and funeral arrangements will be announced. Arrangements are being handled by Marshall Donnelly Combs Funeral Home of Nashville.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Lindsey's memory may be made to: Special Olympics Alabama, 880 South Court Street, Montgomery, AL 36104; UNA Foundation, with a designation to the George Lindsey Film and Digital Media Scholarship, UNA Box 5113, Florence, AL 35632-0001; or another charity of the donor's choice.
Statement by Andy Griffith About George Lindsey:
"George Lindsey was my friend. I had great respect for his talent and his human spirit. In recent years, we spoke often by telephone. Our last conversation was a few days ago. We would talk about our health, how much we missed our friends who passed before us and usually about something funny.
"I am happy to say that as we found ourselves in our eighties, 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.'
"George often told me his fondest memories of his life in show business were the years he spent working on 'The Andy Griffith Show' and 'Mayberry R.F.D.' They were for me, too."
Published by Marshall Donnelly Combs Funeral Home on May 9, 2012.
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sympathies are extended to the Lindsey family and George's friends and many fans at this difficult
Y'all take good care of each other! TYPHOONS FOREVER! We'll Always Have Buckroe!
Love to all, Carol
NNHS CLASS OF '65 WEB SITE:
PERSONAL WEB SITE: http://www.angelfire.com/weird2/cluckmeat
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Words by George Matheson (27 Mar 1842 - 28 Aug 1906). 1882
Music by Albert Lister Peace (26 Jan 1844 - 14 Mar 1912), 18854
O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
"O Love That Will Not Let Me Go" midi and lyrics courtesy of http://www.biblestudycharts.com/SH_O_Love_That_Will_Not_Let_Me_Go.html- 09/17/12 (sic)
Greg Olsen Paintings courtesy ofhttp://gregolsengallery.com – 01/27/05
First Image of George Lindsey courtesy of http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/george-lindsey-andy-griffith-shows-goober-pyle-dies-at-83-201265 - 09/12/12 (sic)
Second Image of George Lindsey (Associated Press/Reed Saxon) courtesy of http://www.legacy.com/ns/obituary.aspx?pid=157489068 - 05/07/12
Third Image of George Lindsey courtesy of http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20593336,00.html - 09/17/12 (sic)
Animated Military Flags courtesy of http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/KevsGifsGalore/Patriotic.html - 06/18/03
Blackwork Flowers Divider Line clip art courtesy of http://www.bravenet.com - 08/12/04
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