For fans of the "Andy Griffith Show," it is easy to identify most of the characters at Andy's famous Thanksgiving table. Maybe all.
Andy and Aunt Bea are serving the turkey.
I see Opie.
Barney. I mean, Deputy Fife.
There's Floyd, the barber.
Otis, the town drunk.
The woman that I always thought was Andy's girlfriend. Am I wrong?
Two at the table are from the state of Alabama. Let's see how many of you Alabama folk can answer all of these questions:
What are the character names of the two from Alabama?
What are the real names of the two Alabama actors who played the characters?
Where in Alabama did each of them come from?
Where did each graduate college, also in Alabama?
Go ahead and try to get your answers now because I will spoil it and give you the answers below.
Gomer Pyle, a gas station attendant, was played by Jim Nabors from Sylacauga. He graduated from the music department at the University of Alabama. Roll Tide.
His TV cousin was Goober, also a mechanic. George "Goober" Lindsey was initially called Goober Beasley (a great Alabama name), but the show changed it to Goober Pyle because of his TV cousin, Gomer. (The two were no relation in real life.)
People naturally tend to get these two mixed up because their names are so similar (Gomer and Goober). And their TV roles were similar, both mechanics/gas station attendants. Cousins on TV. Southern accents. Both are from Alabama. Both were a bit dim-witted and kindly but naïve.
Jim Nabors, Gomer, later spun off his own show from the "Andy Griffth Show," called "Gomer Pyle, USMC."
Nabors was also a singer in nightclubs, variety shows, and recordings. His singing voice was a deep baritone, almost operatic. It has been described as "like the voice of God." His singing voice was the opposite of his Gomer Pyle voice, a high-pitched comical squeal – Surprise, surprise, surprise. Shazaam!
Lindsey, Goober, was born in Fairfield and raised in Jasper. He graduated from Walker County High School in Jasper and Florence State University, now the University of North Alabama. He played football there. He was the quarterback. He acted in college plays.
Lindsey may have played a goober, but he was a well-trained actor, graduating from the American Theatre Wing in New York City. He was later awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of North Alabama. Dr. Goober.
For 17 years, Lindsey conducted an annual million-dollar charitable program in Montgomery, the George Lindsey Celebrity Weekend and Golf Tournament. The names of entertainment and sports celebrities he brought to Alabama to donate their time is amazing. The event raised funds for the Alabama Special Olympics and the Alabama Association of Retarded Citizens.
Goober was equally well known for his 20 years as a stand-up comic on the country TV comedy "Hee Haw."
George Lindsey died in 2012 at age 83. He is buried in his growing-up town of Jasper.
After Jim Nabors hit with the Gomer character on Andy Griffth and his own spinoff, he went back to his first love of singing. For decades, he sang the opening song at the Indianapolis 500 race each year, "Back Home Again in Indiana."
Nabors bought a macadamia plantation in Hawaii and moved there. He returned home to Sylacauga while his parents were still alive. After the death of his father, he moved his mom to his place in Hawaii.
Nabors died in 2017 at age 87. His cremated ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean near Honolulu.
And you thought these two goofy gas station attendants on the "Andy Griffith Show" were just a couple of hayseeds. When you watch Andy Griffith re-runs over Thanksgiving weekend. You will have a radical paradigm shift with your new knowledge of Gomer and Goober.
Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].
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