Using Primary Resources in the Classroom:
The Life of George "Goober" Lindsey

(From the University of North Alabama Archives. Used with permission)

1. Background Information for Teachers:

George Lindsey was born on December 17, Alabama Statehood Day, in the Tennessee Coal and Iron Hospital in Fairfield, Alabama. When he was six weeks old, he accompanied his family to the town of Jasper, Alabama, where he remained a resident while living in Alabama. Although Lindsey's life appears to be picture perfect, his struggle from a lower class family to stardom is a success story itself.

Lindsey's parents were named George Ross Lindsey and Alice Smith Lindsey. His father started out playing baseball for one of the local teams but never made it to the minors. He had several jobs but never succeeded in any of them. His mother was crippled, suffering from a disease known as osteomyelitis, a painful inflammation of the bone marrow. Lindsey was an only child and the only boy to be born in the whole generation on either side of the family.

Even though he came from a lower class family, he managed to complete school and continue his education at college. He first enrolled at Walker Junior College in Jasper, Alabama. It was the school's first year to field a football team, and little did Lindsey know that football would be his meal ticket to a college degree. After one semester, Lindsey left and enrolled in Kemper Military School in Booneville, Missouri. He was not so sure that the military was made for him, so after one year, he decided to try Florence State Teachers College, in Florence, Alabama (better known today as the University of North Alabama). There he as able to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education, with a specialty in the field of physical education.

After graduating from college, Lindsey had no job or money and decided to join the Air Force for four years. During that time, he met his future wife, Joyanne Herbert, and they married. Together they would have two children, Camden and George Jr. Lindsey's marriage eventually failed.

After being discharged from the Air Force, George and his wife moved to Huntsville, where he landed a job as head basketball coach at Hazel Green School in Madison County. As his first year of teaching grew to a close, he decided to attend the American Theater Wing acting school in New York City. Through many different trials of acting, George Lindsey made it to what would be his success on "The Andy Griffith Show."

Lindsey first auditioned for the part of "Gomer Pyle" but Jim Nabors, also an Alabamian, received it. When Nabors decided to carry his career further with his own show, Lindsey received the part as "Goober Pyle," Gomer's cousin. His first episode was titled "Fun Girls," the only episode containing both Lindsey and Nabors. People often seem to associate the two together because of their being cousins on the show and appearing in other televison programs such as "Hee-Haw." During his first episode and the probably most remembered, Lindsey does his impersonation of Cary Grant ("Judy, Judy, Judy, Judy") and Edward G. Robinson ("All right, you guys. Come on, you guys. Let's go, you guys. Beat it, you guys."). After the episode, Lindsey learned that Andy Griffith didn't like it. Griffith was looked upon as the man in charge, and everyone wanted to please him. Lindsey went to him for advice about the character, and Griffith told him simply to stop acting. Andy described the character of Goober as the type of person who would sit down at a table and say, "Hey, this is great salt." Lindsey listened to him because he felt as though he knew more about "Mayberry" than anyone did.

Lindsey's schedule was tight. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, they would film, on Thursday, they would go over scripts and make any possible changes, and on Fridays, they would walk through it and prepare for the upcoming filming that would take place. Lindsey drew upon everybody he knew back home to help build his character. He began mentioning names and naming things from items back home as a way to say hello. Alabama is proud of Lindsey, and his fans let him know on his returns home.

Alabama is also proud of all his hard work and dedication involving the Special Olympics. Alabama's Special Olympics was greatly uplifted with the help of George Lindsey. He has been actively involved with the Special Olympics since 1971, especially with the annual golf tournament. Called "The George Lindsey Celebrity Golf Weekend," it is filled with parades, entertainment, and various celebrities each year. Roy Clark was among those celebrities who has helped faithfully for fifteen years with entertainment. Lindsey was inspired by a young lady who was struggling in a swimming race. When he tried to help her, she replied by saying, "Don't help me, I'm just slow." At that point Lindsey knew what he wanted to devote his time and effort to. With the help of various friends, in sixteen years the tournament has raised more than $1 million dollars for Special Olympics and has greatly increased the number of Olympians involved in the state. A lot of the people in Alabama are unaware of what Special Olympics is, and Lindsey has helped to educate the state, financially and emotionally. Lindsey feels as though this may be the greatest achievement of his life and it certainly continues to give him one of the warmest feelings he has ever known. He will always have some connection with the Special Olympics.

2. Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this lesson, students should be able to:

1. Better understand Lindsey's life and obstacles he had to face.
2. Discuss the importance of seeking goals.
3. Identify Lindsey's most memorable episode on "The Andy Griffith Show."
4. Discuss the life of an actor/actress and how that life differs from ours.
5. Understand the evolution of the character "Goober."
6. Identify the importance of charitable organizations.
7. Better understand what Special Oympics means.
8. Discuss the success involved in the help of famous people.

3. Suggested Activities:

1. Using Document 1, have students locate Jasper, Alabama, on the map.
2. Discuss the requirements needed to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education.
3. Watch an episode of "The Andy Griffith Show" costarring George Lindsey.
4. Using Document 6, group students together and have them to write a short skit, direct it, and act it out.
6. Make copies of Document 4, a word search dealing with words from "Mayberry."
7. Have students write a paragraph on what Special Olympics means to them.
8. Find a charitable organization the class could take part in helping.


Document 1 : Map of Alabama.
Document 2 : Goober Day Program, University of North Alabama Archives, Collier Library, Florence.
Document 3 : Shooting Schedule for "Three Wishes for Opie," University of North Alabama Archives, Collier Library, Florence.
Document 4 : Word Search, University of North Alabama Archives, Collier Library, Florence.
Document 5 : Football Photo, Diorama 1951, University of North Alabama Archives, Collier Library, Florence.
Document 6 : Script, University of North Alabama Archives, Collier Library, Florence.
Document 7 : Letter from Lindsey, University of North Alabama Archives, Collier Library, Florence.
Document 8 : Senior Picture, Diorama 1952, University of North Alabama Archives, Collier Library, Florence.
Document 9 : Call Sheet for "Three Wishes for Opie," University of North Alabama Archives, Collier Library, Florence.

This teaching unit was created by Kristy Vanhoose as a class project for History of Alabama, a course required of all Elementary Education majors at the University of North Alabama. It was last updated on February 8, 1999.