Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy birthday, Goober!


Though his character of village idiot Goober Pyle is routinely lampooned here weekly on Mayberry Mondays, I have nothing but the utmost respect for actor George Lindsey…who was born on this date in Fairfield, AL today and turns the ripe old age of 75.  You see, I’ve seen Lindsey in other venues—the classic Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode of “The Jar” and a couple of Gunsmoke installments, “Hung High” and “Which Dr.”, to name just a few—and know that he’s a first-rate character thespian despite his years of Goobering on The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry R.F.D. and Hee Haw.

Raised in the bustling metropolis of Jasper, AL George graduated from Walker High School in 1946 and then attended both the Kemper Military School and Florence State College (now the University of North Alabama, which began holding an annual George Lindsey film festival in 1988), getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Bioscience.  (In fact, he once taught public school in Hazel Green, AL, just as his TV counterpart Goober would do in the R.F.D. episode “Driver Education”.)  After a hitch in the Air Force, he motored toward New York City with an interest in show business and worked as a stand-up comic and stage actor before moving to L.A. in the 1960s.  He got a break in the bidness by landing guest roles on such series as The Rifleman, The Tycoon, The Twilight Zone and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

The story goes that Lindsey auditioned for a role on TAGS and star Griffith was impressed enough to use him but didn’t because he’d already cast Jim Nabors in the similar part of Gomer Pyle.  When Nabors made tracks for his own spin-off, Gomer Pyle, USMC, Lindsey inherited the mantle of Mayberry’s slow-witted but well-meaning gas pump jockey and it was eventually decided that his “Goober” was kin to Gomer (his cousin) despite the fact that in earlier episodes he was introduced as “Goober Beasley.”  When TAGS went off the air in 1968, the Goober character migrated to spin-off Mayberry R.F.D. and after R.F.D.’s run ended he turned up again on the syndicated comedy-variety series Hee Haw from 1972-92.  In fact, a pilot for a series Goober & the Truckers’ Paradise surfaced in 1978 which would have had Mayberry’s favorite dolt running a truck stop along with characters played by Lindsay Bloom, Leigh French and Audrey Landers…so don’t think I wasn’t disappointed when that didn’t get picked up (these women are, to use my friend Stacia’s nomenclature, “my pretend girlfriends”).

Post-Mayberry, Lindsey has been both a familiar face (Charley and the Angel, Snowball Express) and voice (The AristoCats, Robin Hood) in many a Walt Disney film and has guested on such venues as Love, American Style, Banacek, M*A*S*H, Fantasy Island, CHiPs and a memorable episode of NewsRadio in which he is subpoenaed in a court case to identify an artifact that is purportedly his skull.  A tireless supporter of both Special Olympics and senior citizens, Lindsey may have played an idiot on TV for many years but he’s aces in the hefty book located here at Rancho Yesteryear.  TDOY wishes him a happy natal anniversary and his fellow birthday celebrants as well:

Robertson “Bunny” Hare (1891-1979) – English stage, screen, radio and television comic actor best remembered here at TDOY as Archdeacon Henry Blunt on the classic Britcom All Gas and Gaiters

Arthur Fiedler (1894-1979) – Longtime conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, which was featured weekly on the PBS TV program Evening at Pops

David Butler (1894-1979) – Motion picture and television director-writer-producer who began his career as an actor in silents; his oeuvre includes Sunnyside Up, The Little Colonel, Doubting Thomas, Ali Baba Goes to Town, Thank Your Lucky Stars and The Princess and the Pirate

Katina Paxinou (1900-1973) – Academy Award-winning stage, screen and television actress whose vehicles include For Whom the Bell Tolls, Confidential Agent, Mourning Becomes Electra, Prince of Foxes, Mr. Arkadin and Rocco and His Brothers

House Jameson (1902-1971) – Stage, screen, radio and television character actor best known for playing lawyer/patriarch Sam Aldrich on the radio and TV versions of The Aldrich Family

Erskine Caldwell (1903-1987) – Moreland, GA native and author of Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre

Ray Noble (1903-1978) – English bandleader and composer who penned such standards as The Very Thought of You and Goodnight, Sweetheart but is best known as Edgar Bergen’s maestro and comic sidekick on Bergen’s long-running radio show

Christianna Brand (1907-1988) – English crime novelist and children’s book author who created both Inspector Cockrill (Green for Danger) and Nurse Matilda, the inspiration for the Nanny McPhee movies

Spade Cooley (1910-1969) – Western swing musician and bandleader who also appeared in B-westerns; his career came to a close in 1961 after he murdered his wife by stomping on her in a drunken rage

William Roerick (1911-1995) – Stage, screen and television actor who’s remembered here at TDOY as Henry Chamberlain on the TV soap Guiding Light (“Oh Nola Nola Nola…”)

Joan Woodbury (1915-1989) – Stage, screen and television actress best remembered for playing comic strip heroine Brenda Starr in a 1945 Columbia serial; can also be glimpsed in Super-Sleuth, Charlie Chan on Broadway and King of the Zombies

Barbara Slater (1920-1997) – Unsung motion picture actress-model who’s remembered for appearances in a pair of Three Stooges shorts (Three Smart Saps and Half-Wits Holiday) and Chaplin’s Monsieur Verdoux

Patrice Wymore (1926-     ) – Stage, screen and television actress whose vehicles include Tea for Two, Rocky Mountain, I’ll See You in My Dreams, The Big Trees, She’s Working Her Way Through College and Ocean’s Eleven

Richard Long (1927-1974) – Stage, screen and television actor who had regular gigs on such TV shows as Maverick, Bourbon Street Beat, 77 Sunset Strip, The Big Valley, Nanny and the Professor and Thicker Than Water

Patricia Driscoll (1927-     ) – Irish stage, screen and television actress best known for replacing Bernadette O’Farrell as Maid Marian in the later seasons of TV’s The Adventures of Robin Hood

Marilyn Beck (1928-     ) – Gossip columnist

William Safire (1929-2009) – Nattering nabob of negativism and longtime New York Times political columnist who also at one time wrote speeches for Nixon and Agnew

Armin Mueller-Stahl (1930-     ) – Prussian-German stage, screen and television actor whose vehicles include Music Box, Avalon, The Game, The X Files and Eastern Promises

Bob Guccione (1930-2010) – Founder and publisher of Penthouse magazine (he also created Omni, Viva and Longevity)

Dave Madden (1931-     ) – Stage, screen and television comic actor best known as manager Reuben Kincaid* on the sitcom The Partridge Family; he also had regular roles on Camp Runamuck (as Pruett) and Alice (as Earl)

Tommy Steele (1936-     ) – English entertainer and teen idol whose cinematic vehicles include Half a Sixpence, The Happiest Millionaire and Finian’s Rainbow

Eddie Kendricks (1939-1992) – Temptation


Jeffrey Wigand (1942-     ) – Former vice-president of R&D at tobacco company Brown & Williamson who blew the whistle on the company’s manipulation of nicotine in their product in a 1996 60 Minutes interview that became the basis for the 1999 film The Insider

Paul Butterfield (1942-1987) – Blues musician and harmonica player who fronted The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Christopher Cazenove (1945-2010) – English stage, screen and television actor who had regular gig on such TV series as The Regiment, The Duchess of Duke Street, Dynasty, A Fine Romance and Judge John Deed

Chris Matthews (1945-     ) – Volume-challenged political pundit and host of the TV programs Hardball and The Chris Matthews Show…oh, and un dickhead formidable

Ernie Hudson (1946-     ) – Stage, screen and television character actor whose vehicles include the Ghostbusters films, Leviathan, The Crow, The Substitute and TV’s St. Elsewhere, Oz, Desperate Housewives and Law & Order

Eugene Levy (1946-     ) – SCTV alum whose vehicles include Vacation, Splash, Club Paradise, Armed and Dangerous, A Mighty Wind and the American Pie movies

Wes Studi (1947-     ) – Stage, screen and television actor whose vehicles include Powwow Highway, The Last of the Mohicans, Geronimo: An American Legend, Heat, Deep Rising and The Only Good Indian

Marilyn Hassett (1947-     ) – Stage, screen and television actress whose vehicles include The Other Side of the Mountain movies, Shadow of the Hawk and The Bell Jar

Paul Rodgers (1949-     ) – English rock ‘n’ roll singer-songwriter who fronted the groups Free and Bad Company


Joel Brooks (1949-     ) – Stage, screen and television character actor who had regular gigs on such TV series as Teachers Only, My Sister Sam, Good Grief, Dudley and Six Feet Under

Bill Pullman (1953-     ) – Stage, screen and television character actor whose vehicles include Ruthless People, Spaceballs, The Last Seduction, While You Were Sleeping, Independence Day and Zero Effect

Barry Livingston (1953-     ) – Stage, screen and television moppet actor/Facebook compadre best known as adopted son Ernie Thompson Douglas on TV’s My Three Sons

Patrick Murray (1956-     ) – English stage, screen and television actor remembered here at TDOY as the dim Mickey Pearce from the Britcom Only Fools and Horses

Peter Farrelly (1956-     ) – Motion picture and television director-writer-producer who, in tandem with his brother Bobby, has promulgated such witty and sophisticated** cinematic treats as Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, There’s Something About Mary, Me, Myself and I and Stuck on You

Mike Mills (1958-     ) – Bassist/keyboardist and backing vocalist for the Athens, GA-based group R.E.M.

Gregg Araki (1959-    ) – Motion picture and television director-producer-writer whose oeuvre includes The Living End, Totally F***ed Up and The Doom Generation

Sara Dallin (1961-     ) – Bananarama chick


Eric Brown (1964-     ) – Stage, screen and television actor best known for playing Vinton “Buzz” Harper, Jr on TV’s Mama’s Family—making him the second of Ken Berry’s TV idiot sons

Giovanni Ribisi (1974-     ) – Stage, screen and television actor who had regular gigs on such TV series as The New Leave It to Beaver, My Two Dads, Davis Rules, The Wonder Years, Friends and My Name is Earl

Sarah Paulson (1974-     ) – TDOY actress fave whom I always remember as Merlyn on American Gothic but she was also on Jack & Jill, Leap of Faith, Deadwood, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Cupid and a memorable Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode in which she played a real cold-blooded bitch

Milla Jovovich (1975-     ) – Stage, screen and television actress-model whose vehicles include Chaplin, Dazed and Confused, The Fifth Element***, Zoolander and the Resident Evil movies

*What can I say—the man is one of my role models…

**I have sarcasm…and I’m not afraid to use it.

***I paid good cash money to see this POC during my years of exile in Morgantown.  I’m still bitter after all these years.


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5 comments:

Stacia said...

I was told this was the Chris Matthews and "Fifth Element" Fan Club.

Brent McKee said...

If I'm not mistaken (and I know that I'm not) didn't Ray Noble also appear on the early Burns and Allen Shows during the period when Gracie was running for President? At that time the show was pretending that George & Gracie weren't married, and Ray was pining after Gracie.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I was told this was the Chris Matthews and "Fifth Element" Fan Club.

baZING!

If I'm not mistaken (and I know that I'm not) didn't Ray Noble also appear on the early Burns and Allen Shows during the period when Gracie was running for President?

You are not mistaken (and you knew that you weren't). I probably should have included that info but in my defense Noble was with Bergen a heck of a lot longer than George % Gracie, so I exercised my editorial powers and snipped it out.

Andrew Leal said...

Ivan, nice tribute to Mr. Lindsey but some corrections are in order. I know that constant exposure to "Mayberry RFD" can sap your memory of the actually entertaining "Andy Griffith Show" episodes, but Goober was established as Gomer's cousin (at least in episodes as they aired) from the very first, long before George Lindsey even entered the picture. Gomer's debut episode [though the second aired] was the classic "Man in a Hurry," a fine showcase for guest Robert Emhardt, and Gomer talks about his cousin Goober, the real mechanic in the family.

Gomer would refer to Goober periodically thereafter, notably in "Barney and the Great Cave Rescue," when Barney tells Gomer he's heard just enough about his stupid cousin, Gomer retorts with a classic defense: "Goober ain't stupid! He's *ugly* but he ain't stupid." (A defense that really wouldn't carry much weight when Goober moved on camera).

And of course, in Goober's on-camera debut episode, "The Fun Girls," Gomer introduces him with "Meet my cousin, Goober." (I'll have to check the episodes after that re the surname; now that's possible or even probable, since inconsistent surnames abounded in Mayberry, and cousins don't necessarily have the same last name). I just wanted to clarify that Goober and Gomer were two peas in the same shell game from the start.

Also, special mention is deserved of the third season "NewsRadio" episode in which Jimmy James sues a kid who sold him fake memorabilia... including the skull of George "Goober" Lindsey. Mr. Lindsey himself appeats as an expert witness, feels the skull on the stand, and declares "It ain't mine!" (or words to that effect)

Andrew Leal said...

Bah... I just discovered that I overlooked your own mention of the NewsRadio ep, which I suppose cancels out the Pyle kinship argument... or I could blame it on that tidbit being positioned too closely to the House Jameson entry.