George Lindsey, best known for playing Goober Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show, has died. He was 83 years old. Lindsey died Sunday in Nashville after an extended hospitalization, The Tennessean reports. An Alabama native, Lindsey went to college to become a teacher, but joined the United States Air Force in the '50s. He eventually moved to New York to study acting and began appearing in stage productions.
Lindsey got his big break when he was cast on The Andy Griffith Show in 1964 as the slow-witted-but-kind Goober. He became known on the show for his Goober dance and his infamously bad Cary Grant impression. Lindsey continued to portray the character when the show was renamed Mayberry R.F.D. — following Andy Griffith's departure — until the show was axed in 1971.
"George Lindsey was my friend. I had great respect for his talent and his human spirit. Griffith said in a statement obtained by the newspaper. "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.' "
Director Ron Howard, Lindsey's longtime Andy Griffith Show co-star, called Lindsey warm, intelligent, and lovable on Twitter Sunday. "He generated lots of laughs & raised a lot of money for Special Olympics. RIP George."
In addition to The Andy Griffith Show, Lindsey was also known for his 20-year role as part of the famous Hee Haw cast from 1972 to 1992. He also appeared on such shows as M*A*S*H, Gunsmoke, Herbie, the Love Bug and CHiPS and lent his voice to several Disney films including The Aristocrats, The Rescuers and Robin Hood.
Lindsey also released a comedy album in 1971, Goober Sings!, and an autobiography in 1995, Goober in a Nutshell. He last appeared on the small screen on Larry the Cable Guy's Hula-Palooza Christmas Luau, which aired on CMT in 2009.
Lindsey is survived by his son George Lindsey, Jr., daughter Camden Jo Lindsey Gardner, two grandsons and his longtime companion, Anne Wilson.