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University of North Alabama
Office of University Relations

William M. Jarnigan, Director
Tel: 205-760-4225
Fax: 205-760-4812

February 12, 1998


For release: Immediately

FLORENCE, Ala. - The Alabama Legislature convened a joint session recently to honor University of North Alabama alumnus George Lindsey for his humanitarian work over the years and to hear the announcement of a new film festival at his alma mater.

Lindsey regaled the solons with the clean, homespun humor that has trademarked his career as an actor and comedian, particularly as the character Goober Pyle on two of television's longest-running shows, The Andy Gnffith Show and Hee Haw.

George at AL Statehouse
Standing before the Speaker of the House's chair, George S. Lindsey reacts to a joint proclamation given to him recently by the Alabama Senate and House of Representatives. (UNA photo by Chris Rohling)

The entertainer also outlined for the legislators the details for the first UNA/George Lindsey Television and Film Festival on the campus during April 10-11.

State Senator Bobby Denton, of Tuscumbia, and State Representative Nelson Starkey, of Florence, sponsored the proclamation from the Senate and House honoring the entertainer. Denton was the first person to cut a record, "A Fallen Star," in Muscle Shoals. Starkey, a retired Navy pilot, attended Florence State Teachers College (now UNA) when Lindsey did in the early 1950s. State Senator Hinton Mitchem, of Albertville, also acknowledged Lindsey's leadership in raising $1.5 million for Alabama Special Olympics with his former celebrity golf tournaments in the state capital, Montgomery.

After accepting the joint proclamation, Lindsey turned the Alabama Statehouse into a comedy club as he regaled the lawmakers with tales of growing up poor before starring in musicals on Broadway and then becoming a television star in Hollywood.

"We weren't poor," said Lindsey, recalling his childhood in Jasper. "We weren't even trash. We used to visit trash on Sunday. My sister got married for the rice."

"One Christmas, I got a box with two batteries. It said, "Toy not included." Lindsey said his background in Alabama gave him an advantage over other actors. He explained that was because of the experience of "going barefoot in the summer or putting peanuts in an RC Cola and making it last all day or hitchhiking from Opp to Gordo."

George with Gov. James
Alabama Governor Fob James, left, George Lindsey, of Nashville, Tennessee, about letting the entertainer veto a legislature bill. (UNA photo by Chris Rohling)

Lindsey's television and film credits, other than the Griffith Show and Hee Haw, will be featured during the festival, although some excerpts from those two will also be shown.

The festival, supported by grants from Huntsville businessman Woody Anderson, the UNA Foundation and the Alabama State Council on the Arts, will feature professional and student competitions nationally in various forms of film and video work.

The keynote speaker for the festival will be Tuscaloosa native Tom Cherones, the director of the NBC series, NewsRadio.

Lindsey, who holds an honorary doctor's degree from UNA, wants the event to be an educational tool, particularly for Alabama high school and college students.

"I hope we find a lot of new Billy Bob Thorntons with this festival. There is a lot of undiscovered talent out there and I hope this will be a platform for them to show what they can do and then go on to Hollywood. lam proud to be a part of it," Dr. Lindsey said.

The Golden Lion Award will be presented to the first place entries in each category at a Friday night gala on April 10, 1998. Professional entries must be postmarked by February 25, 1998. The entry fees will be $25 for professional entrants and $15 for students. For more information, people may call festival chair Bobbie Hurt at (205) 765-4247.