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The Andy Griffith Show was one of the most successful rural oriented comedies that aired on CBS in the 1960's. It ran from October 1960 until September 1968 and produced 249 episodes and has been running in syndication ever since it left the air. It introduced to the world the major stars of Andy Griffith,Ron Howard, and Don Knotts who went on to appear in other hit series. On top of that when the show went off the air in 1968, it was one of just 3 shows (I Love Lucy, and Seinfeld were the others) that ended its run rated #1 in the nation.
For more on The Andy Griffith Show go to the mini-page right here at Sitcoms Online.
Here's an Article on Producer Sheldon Leonard from Time Magazine.
The Punk Who Made Good
Friday, Nov. 19, 1965 Article
On 3.7 acres of Hollywood real estate, he is king. Nine sound stages sound the alert when his footfall is heard; five companies now shooting television series await his Brooklynese benediction. He controls three of TV's top shows: Gomer Pyle, Andy Griffith and Dick Van Dyke. I Spy, a rising comedy-adventure show, he owns outright. Yesterday, however, it was a different story. Producer Sheldon Leonard's climb has largely been from rags to rags; the riches are a very new addition.
Light Heavy. Born Sheldon Leonard Bershad on Manhattan's East Side, Leonard went through Syracuse University on a scholarship, then began a Wall Street job on Black Friday, 1929. The job failed with the market, and after a while, Leonard decided to try acting. Broadway, inundated with epicene chorus boys, welcomed the swarthy, unsubtle Leonard, cast him as a light "heavy" in seven long-running shows, including Three Men on a Horse, until the Depression caught up with the theater.
To survive he moved to Hollywood and quickly established himself as a character actor in the tough-guy tradition a kind of punk's Bogart. Today old movie buffs still see him on TV reruns, barking at his moll, Gloria Grahame, Vivian Blaine or Marie McDonald: "I fought I told ya to wait in da car." He ran his luck through nearly 150 movie roles, but by 1941 gangster parts were declared bad for the image of a nation at war. As the clean-cut types moved in, Leonard moved out to the one medium where he could be heard but not seen: radio.
Just for laughs, Jack Benny, Judy Canova, Phil Harris all used him usually as the voice of a sleazy racetrack tout. But Kiss-of-Death Leonard, as he was beginning to be called, soon found himself in still another dying medium. Radio was moribund, television was thriving and once again Leonard was jobless. He had no compunction about trying his hand at TV scriptwriting. "The minimum price in those days was $550 for a half-hour show," Leonard recalls. "No respectable writer would sell for that, but I would." Leonard was no Paddy Chayefsky, but he was cheap, and in Hollywood cheap is good.
Clever Ape. His luck finally turned when his work struck the fancy of Danny Thomas, who made him the director of his show, later elevated him to coproducer. The fat years, when they came, were obese. He has made and sold eleven pilot films, now sells shows on his name alone, without bothering to film a trial episode. His 1965 income for the first nine months is $350,000.
What makes him so successful in a field where the mortality rate of new shows is over 75% ? "Native arrogance," admits Leonard. A rival producer at Ashley-Famous Artists takes a tougher view: "Leonard doesn't think. That's why he's successful. He's like those gangsters he used to play. What he likes in his gut the public likes in their guts or else. He has the primitive instincts of a clever ape. On television, that's worth more than a crystal ball."
Here is Frances Bavier's Obituary
Frances Bavier Dead; TV Performer Was 86
Published: December 08, 1989
Frances Bavier, who played Aunt Bee on ''The Andy Griffith Show'' on television in the 1960's, died at her home here on Wednesday. She was 86 years old and had been released Monday from a hospital, where she had been in the coronary-care unit.
Miss Bavier, a native of New York City, attended Columbia University and was a graduate of the American Academy of the Arts. She had more than 20 years of stage experience, including stints in vaudeville and on Broadway, where her credits included the F. Hugh Herbert comedy ''Kiss and Tell'' and Paul Osborn's ''Point of No Return.'' Among her films were ''The Lady Says No'' and ''The Day the Earth Stood Still.''
She became famous for her role in the popular television show starring Mr. Griffith as a North Carolina sheriff. She portrayed his devoted aunt, who was known for her Southern cooking and who helped to rear the widower sheriff's son. She won an Emmy for the role in 1967.
Here is Hal Smith's Obituary
Hal Smith, The Friendly Drunk Otis On `Andy Griffith Show' In The '60S
Feb 13, 1994 - LOS ANGELES - Hal Smith, who played Mayberry's lovable town drunk on "The Andy Griffith Show," has died. He was 77.
Mr. Smith died Jan. 28 at his Santa Monica, Calif., home, said Don Pitts, the veteran performer's longtime agent.
Mr. Smith played the affable inebriate Otis Campbell on "The Andy Griffith Show," which ran from 1960 to 1968 on CBS. The show is seen around the world in syndication.
He also was a featured guest on ABC's "Pat Paulsen's Half a Comedy Hour" in 1970.
Mr. Smith supplied the voice of cartoon characters and hawked products in hundreds of commercials, Pitts said. He took over as the voice of Winnie the Pooh after Sterling Holloway, Winnie's original cartoon voice, died in 1992.
Mr. Smith came to films and television after singing with big bands in the 1930s. He worked as a staff announcer on Los Angeles radio station KFI in the 1940s, then launched an acting career.
Survivors include his son, Terry, and a brother.
Here is Jack Dodson's Obituary from the Washington Post
ACTOR JACK DODSON DIES AT 63
September 21, 1994
LOS ANGELES -- Jack Dodson, 63, an actor who was best known as the officious egghead county clerk Howard Sprague on "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Mayberry R.F.D.," died Sept. 16 at a suburban hospital. The cause of death was not reported.
Mr. Dodson was a drama graduate of what is now Carnegie Mellon University in his native Pittsburgh. He went on to Broadway productions of "Our Town," "You Can't Take it With You" and "Hughie," where he was spotted by Griffith.
He began appearing on "Andy Griffith" in 1967, the year before the star left the show. He continued on "Mayberry R.F.D." until it ended in 1971. He played a quasi-intellectual living in a rural town who often talked over his neighbors' heads and just as often he was tripped up by his own flawed logic.
Mr. Dodson also had recurring roles as the father of Ralph Malph on "Happy Days" and as a radio station manager on "Homefront." He also made more than 150 guest appearances on shows including "The Fugitive," "Hawaii Five-O," "Newhart," "Barney Miller," "Cagney and Lacey," "St. Elsewhere," "Matlock" and "L.A. Law."
His movie credits included "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" (1973), "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" (1974) and the "The Getaway" (1972).
Survivors include his wife and two daughters.
Here is Aneta Corsaut's Obituary from the LA Times
Aneta Corsaut; Helen Crump on 'Andy Griffith Show'
November 10, 1995
Aneta Corsaut, 62, actress best remembered for her role as Andy's girlfriend on "The Andy Griffith Show." A native of Hutchinson, Kan., Miss Corsaut was educated at Northwestern University and began her acting career in New York. She first appeared on the long-running Griffith show in 1963 as schoolteacher Helen Crump, who later became the Mayberry sheriff's wife on the first episode of the spinoff "Mayberry R.F.D." She returned to the role in two reunion shows, "Return to Mayberry" in 1986 and "The Andy Griffith Show Reunion" in 1993. Miss Corsaut also had a continuing role as policeman Bumper Morgan's pawnshop owner friend on the series "The Blue Knight" and as Irma Howell in the short-lived series "Mrs. G Goes to College." On the big screen, the actress starred opposite Steve McQueen in the 1958 science fiction film "The Blob." She also co-authored "The Mystery Reader's Quiz Book." On Monday in Studio City.
Here is Don Knotts Obituary from the LA Times
Don Knotts, star of 'The Andy Griffith Show,' dead at 81
Knotts died Friday night of pulmonary and respiratory complications at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills.
February 25, 2006|By Scott Collins | Times Staff Writer
Don Knotts, the saucer-eyed, scarecrow-thin comic actor best known for his roles as the high-strung small-town deputy Barney Fife on the 1960s CBS series "The Andy Griffith Show" and the leisure-suit-clad landlord Ralph Furley on ABC's '70s sitcom "Three's Company," has died. He was 81.
Knotts, who lived in West Los Angeles, died Friday night of lung cancer at UCLA Medical Center, according to Sherwin Bash, his longtime manager.
Family members said that his longtime friend Griffth was one of his last visitors at Cedars on Friday night.
Despite health problems, Knotts had kept working in recent months. He lent his distinctive, high-pitched voice as Turkey Mayor in Walt Disney's animated family film "Chicken Little," which was released in November 2005. He also did guest spots in 2005 on NBC's "Las Vegas" and Fox's "That '70s Show." He occasionally co-headlined in live comedy shows with Tim Conway, his sometime co-star in Disney films such as "The Apple Dumpling Gang." Knotts also appeared as the TV repairman in director Gary Ross's whimsical 1998 comedy "Pleasantville," and voiced the part of T.W. Turtle in the 1997 animated feature "Cats Don't Dance."
As he grew older, Knotts became a lodestar for younger comic actors. The new generation came to appreciate his highly physical brand of acting that, at its best, was in the tradition of silent-film greats such as Buster Keaton, Stan Laurel and Harold Lloyd.
Knotts first rose to prominence in the late 1950s, joining Louis Nye and other comedy players on "The Steve Allen Show." In 1961, United Artists Records released a comedy album entitled "Don Knotts: An Evening with Me," which featured various takeoffs on the "nervous man" routine the comic had made famous on Allen's show. One of the bits, "The Weatherman," concerned a TV forecaster forced to wing it after the meteorology report fails to make it to the studio by air time.
During the mid to late 1960s, in a largely unsuccessful bid for major film stardom, Knotts made a series of family films that many connoisseurs now say were critically underappreciated at the time. These include "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" (1964), "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" (1966) and "The Reluctant Astronaut" (1967). The latter two were made as part of a five-picture deal with Universal Pictures.
"Limpet," the tale of a meek man who is transformed into a fish, has particularly won recent acclaim. Its early mix of live action and animation was a forerunner of such later films as "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and "Space Jam."
At one point, Jim Carrey was said to be considering starring in a "Limpet" remake, although the project has yet to materialize. Once, when Knotts visited the set of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," Carrey paid tribute. "I went to him, and I was just like, 'Thank you so much for "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken,"' Carrey later told an interviewer. " 'I watched it a hundred times when I was a kid.' "
Martin Short has likewise hailed Knotts as a major influence, and at least one of Short's recurring characters, shifty-eyed lawyer Nathan Thurm, owes a debt to Knotts' "nervous man" character, created for "The Steve Allen Show" in the 1950s.
Many TV viewers remember Knotts as Ralph Furley, the ascot-wearing middle-aged landlord who mistakenly viewed himself as a swinger on ABC's hit sex farce "Three's Company." The series starred the late John Ritter as Jack Tripper, a chef who pretended to be gay in order to share an apartment with two attractive young women. The plot of many episodes hinged on Tripper struggling to keep his secret from an ever-suspicious (and homophobic) Furley. Knotts introduced the character in 1979, during the show's fourth season, when the original landlords (Norman Fell and Audra Lindley) had departed for their own spin-off, "The Ropers."
For Knotts, who typically worked in Disney comedies and other family-friendly fare, appearing in a sex comedy then decried by critics as "jiggle TV" -- constituted a major departure. But he stayed with "Three's Company" until it went off the air in 1984 after eight seasons.
However, it was his portrayal of Barney Fife a role for which he won five Emmy Awards -- that immortalized Knotts to TV viewers. Deputy Fife, an inveterate bumbler, was not in the series pilot, and was at first intended simply to be part of a large ensemble that would surround Griffith, who played Sheriff Andy Taylor in Mayberry, a fictional North Carolina town near Raleigh.
But not long after the series debuted in October 1960, Knotts stole the show. Griffith, who was meant to be the series' comic focus, shifted to playing straight man. The writers began beefing up Fife's role and creating episodes that depended on the sheriff rescuing Fife from his latest predicament. "Andy Griffith" was the most popular comedy on television during its first season, and never dropped from the Top 10 for the rest of its eight-year run.
In Knotts' hands, Fife was a fully realized stooge, a hick-town Don Quixote who imagined himself braver, more sophisticated and more competent than he actually was. His utter lack of self-control led him into desperate jams that usually culminated with Fife at the end of his rope, bug-eyed and panting with anxiety. Sheriff Taylor allowed his deputy to carry just one bullet, which he was obliged to keep separate from his service revolver due to past trigger mishaps.
Asked how he developed his most famous character, Knotts replied in a 2000 interview: "Mainly, I thought of Barney as a kid. You can always look into the faces of kids and see what they're thinking, if they're happy or sad. That's what I tried to do with Barney. It's very identifiable."
Jesse Donald Knotts was born in Morgantown, W.Va., on July 21, 1924, the youngest of four brothers. His family life was troubled; Knotts' father twice threatened his mother with a knife and later spent time in mental hospitals, while older brother Earl nicknamed "Shadow" because of his thinness -- died of asthma when Knotts was still a teenager.
Years later, the actor did not recall his childhood fondly.
"I felt like a loser," he recalled in a 1976 interview with the Los Angeles Times. "I was unhappy, I think, most of the time. We were terribly poor and I hated my size."
Knotts turned to performing in his early teens, doing an Edgar Bergen-inspired ventriloquism act with a dummy he named Danny.
He enlisted in the Army in 1943 and served in the Pacific, receiving the World War II Victory Medal among other decorations. After the war, in 1948, he graduated from West Virginia University with an education degree.
He soon borrowed $100 and moved to New York to pursue an acting career. He auditioned for several radio gigs but was turned down. One of his earliest TV roles was on the CBS soap opera "Search for Tomorrow," where he played Wilbur Peterson a neurotic young man so troubled he communicated only with his sister -- from 1953-55. It was the only non-comedic role he ever played.
But Knotts did not receive widespread attention until he appeared on Broadway in Ira Levin's 1955 comedy "No Time for Sergeants." Based on Mac Hyman's novel, the play concerned a hillbilly played by a then-unknown Andy Griffith -- who was drafted into the Air Force. Knotts won plaudits as an overly tense military evaluator.
From 1956-60, Knotts further cemented his reputation on NBC's "The Steve Allen Show," where he would play a character named Mr. Morrison, aka "the nervous man." Interviewed on the street, Morrison was asked whether something was making him nervous and would inevitably offer a terse, anxiety-wracked "No!"
In the meantime, "No Time for Sergeants" was made into a feature film in 1958, with Griffith and Knotts reprising their roles. The two actors kept in touch, and when Griffith signed to do the TV series as a rural sheriff, Knotts half-jokingly suggested that the lawman would need a deputy.
Knotts left "Andy Griffith" in 1965, later explaining that he believed the producers had always intended for the series to last just five seasons. In a 1967 Times interview, he said, "The grind gets to you in television, and that's primarily the reason I'm concentrating on pictures."
Griffith stayed with the program for three years after Knotts' departure, however, and Knotts agreed to revive his role as Fife in a number of guest spots. Even without Knotts, "Andy Griffith" remained popular, and the show was ranked No. 1 in its final season, 1967-68. Episodes remain syndication favorites and still appear in frequent rotation on cable network TV Land.
But many fans now believe "Andy Griffith" fizzled creatively without Knotts' manic energy a point that even Griffith himself has conceded. On the TV fan site www.jumptheshark.com, one viewer wrote, "When Barney Fife left town, 'The Andy Griffith Show' changed from a television classic to just another 60's TV show."
After "Griffith," Knotts stayed busy, although he never quite matched the success he had seen as Barney Fife. An NBC variety hour, "The Don Knotts Show," premiered in 1970 and lasted just one season. The actor subsequently appeared in several live-action Disney features: as a bumbling bandit in "The Apple Dumpling Gang" (1975), a would-be safecracker in "No Deposit, No Return" (1976) and an auto-racing veteran in "Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo" (1977). He also reprised his role as Fife in "Return to Mayberry," a nostalgic TV movie that delivered enormous ratings for CBS in 1986, and had a recurring role in "Matlock," CBS' courtroom drama starring Griffith.
A self-described hypochondriac, Knotts suffered numerous health reversals in recent years. He developed vision problems that made driving and some other tasks difficult. In the fall of 2003, he injured his Achilles tendon while starring in "On Golden Pond" at the New Theatre in Overland Park, Kansas, and had to wear a brace onstage.
Two of Knotts' three marriages ended in divorce. The first, to Kathryn Kay Metz, lasted from 1947 to 1964 and produced two children, Karen, an actress who co-starred with her father in a 1996 stage revival of "You Can't Take It With You," and Thomas, both of whom survive him. From 1974 to 1983, Knotts was married to Loralee Czuchna. He was married to actress Francey Yarborough at the time of his death.
"He saw poignancy in people's pride and pain and he turned it into something endearing and hilarious," Yarborough, who is also an actress, said in a statement Saturday.
Knotts received a star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame in January 2000.
In the foreword to Knotts' 2000 memoir, "Barney Fife and Other Characters I Have Known," Griffith wrote that Knotts personally had little in common with his most famous creation. "Don was not Barney Fife," Griffith wrote. "I know Don to be a bright man and very much in control of himself. As everyone knows, Barney Fife had very little control of himself. In the comedy scenes we did, I was often closer to Don than the camera and I could look at him before we started those scenes, and through his eyes, I could see him become Barney Fife."
Here is George Lindsey's Obituary
George 'Goober' Lindsey dead at 83
Posted: May 06, 2012 11:37 AM EST
Updated: May 7, 2012 05:57 AM
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
Actor and comedian George "Goober" Lindsey died early Sunday morning after a brief illness, according to his publicist. He was 83 years old.
Lindsey was born on December 17, 1928 in Fairfield, Alabama, and grew up in the small town of Jasper. Sources tell Channel 4 that The Andy Griffith Show and Hee Haw star will be buried there.
Funeral arrangements are being handled Marshall Donnelly Combs Funeral Home of Nashville.
As a young boy, Lindsey's best buddies were his dog One Spot and his pal Sappo, a lifelong friend and a popular foil for Lindsey's stand-up comedy act. He became interested in acting after seeing a production of Oklahoma! when he was just 14.
Lindsey liked to hang around his Aunt Ethel's gas station, where the mechanics wore felt caps to keep the grease and oil from dripping into their hair. Those caps would inspire Lindsey's trademark "beanie" worn by Goober.
Gas station notwithstanding, the Lindsey family of George's youth felt the full weight of the Great Depression. Those hard times were later a rich source of material for his comedy act, with jokes guaranteed to get a laugh, such as: "We were so poor that we'd eat beans for breakfast, drink water for lunch and swell up for supper."
As a student in Jasper, Lindsey was a good athlete. At Walker County High School, he excelled in football and basketball. One of the few other official high school activities he enjoyed was doing theatrical productions. He was as surprised as anybody when he graduated high school. With no real plans for his future other than a desire to be in the spotlight, Lindsey enrolled in local Walker Junior College. After being invited not to come back for a second semester at Walker, Lindsey enrolled (that is to say, "was sent away") for a year of junior college at Kemper Military School in Boonville, Mo.
Next up was the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Lindsey lasted a semester there, but couldn't afford the tuition for a second semester. It was probably just as well. As he joked in his 1995 autobiography, Goober in a Nutshell, "I was in remedial everything. I was even in remedial lunch." He was, however, able to scrape together enough money to enroll at Florence State Teachers College (now the University of North Alabama).
Lindsey thrived in Florence. He eventually rose to starting quarterback for the football team. His football prowess earned him a much needed scholarship, which allowed him to finish his collegiate career at Florence State.
He also performed regularly with the college theater group. He graduated in 1952 with a degree in biological science and physical education.
His alma mater in Florence remained a passion for Lindsey the rest of his life. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the university in 1992 and was inducted into the university's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.
He was proud to be a co-founder of the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival in 1998. Several scholarships are also endowed in his name.
The university is home to the George Lindsey Collection, which contains most of his television and movie scripts and much of his other career memorabilia. Lindsey was proudly on hand during the film festival in March of this year for the dedication of the George Lindsey Theater on the UNA campus.
After he graduated from college, Lindsey joined the Air Force. He was assigned to special services and to be a swimming instructor. At one point during his service at Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico, he served as personal lifeguard for General Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command.
Much of his time with the Air Force was spent at Pinecastle Air Force Base near Orlando. He was responsible for putting together plays and other entertainment for the servicemen.
He also worked on plays at nearby Rollins College in Winter Haven. It was at Rollins that Lindsey met and fell in love with Joyanne Herbert. They were married in 1955.
After Lindsey was discharged from the Air Force, the newlyweds moved to his home turf in Alabama. With his college degree (and a teacher's certificate) and Air Force experience, Lindsey landed a job coaching basketball and baseball and teaching history at Hazel Green High School in Madison County.
"I was the worst teacher in the world," Lindsey later said. After a painful year at Hazel Green High, Lindsey decided to put everyone out of the misery of his teaching.
He was accepted at the prestigious American Theater Wing in New York City. With the help of GI Bill funds, he studied at the American Theater Wing for two years and loved every minute of it. To help pay the bills during and after this time, he worked as a comedian and actor in nightclubs and coffeehouses. He was noticed by agents from the William Morris Agency, and he signed with them to represent him.
Before long, Lindsey landed the role of Moose in the production of All American at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre and later the role of the Wreck in an industrial show version of Wonderful Town, which toured the country after premiering on Broadway.
He also began to get some work in television. But by far Lindsey's biggest hit during this time was the birth of his son George in 1962. In his father's eyes, a star was born.
The growing Lindsey family was soon following their dream to California. Most of Lindsey's early Hollywood work was as tough guys and bad guys, mostly in westerns, such as "The Rifleman" and "Gunsmoke." He also appeared in the "The Real McCoys," "The Twilight Zone," several Disney productions and three episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Hour," most notably the episode titled "The Jar," one of his favorite performances.
Lindsey got a call in 1962 to audition for the one-episode role of a gas station attendant on "The Andy Griffith Show." He thought he had the job, but at the last minute Jim Nabors was given the role of Gomer Pyle, which evolved into a bigger part and a springboard to stardom for Nabors.
When Lindsey saw that first episode featuring Gomer, he famously kicked in the screen on the television set in his living room. As he wrote in his autobiography, he was furious about losing the part. "Not only that, but now I didn't have a TV to watch Ben Casey' on."
Not to worry. Lindsey's destiny was still Mayberry. In 1964, Lindsey landed the role of Gomer's cousin Goober Pyle, who was to be Gomer's heir apparent at Mayberry's filling station. Seven full seasons of acting work as Goober followed for Lindsey, four on "The Andy Griffith Show" and then three on the sequel series, "Mayberry R.F.D."
And from there bloomed a career of both embracing and running from Goober most prominently during two decades as a regular on the syndicated "Hee Haw" on which he dressed as Goober but was usually addressed as George.
Over the years, Lindsey made his peace with the role that had pigeonholed him. As he wrote in his "What Mayberry Means to Me" poem, which he used as his signature finale for his stand-up act for 30 years, "The thing I like about Mayberry, most of all, it's made ol' Goober rich!"
Shortly after landing the role of Goober on "The Andy Griffith Show," Lindsey upstaged himself with the birth of his beautiful daughter Camden. With son George now two, the Lindsey family of 1964 was hitting on all cylinders and "running like a scalded dog."
Lindsey had become one of the busiest performers in show business. He was a frequent guest star on top television shows and made countless guest appearances on talk shows and game shows.
Movie roles, including voice-over work for favorite Disney animated features, and a full slate of stand-up comedy, both as a headliner and as an opening act for top country music acts, kept Lindsey in demand.
He was also spokesperson for Getty Oil Truck Stops and Liberty Trouser Company, and he opened a chain of fleetingly successful George Lindsey's Family Steak Houses. He even recorded a few albums of both comedy and country music, including tunes by some of Nashville's top songwriters and a few that Lindsey co-wrote.
Through it all, Lindsey always found time to support good causes. He was a fixture at charity fundraisers. The cause closest to his heart was Special Olympics. His annual George Lindsey Celebrity Golf Weekend raised over $1,000,000 for Alabama Special Olympics from 1973 to 1988. One of the legacies of that effort was the George Lindsey Aquatic Center in Tuscaloosa.
When Lindsey was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1983, it was in recognition of his work as a "Youth Benefactor" for Special Olympics more so than for his own athletic accomplishments in high school and college.
His receipt of the Minnie Pearl Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997 was also primarily in recognition of his charitable works. For that reason and because comedienne Minnie Pearl had been such an important friend in his life, Lindsey often said that award was the one that meant the most to him. (That's not to say that he didn't also appreciate receiving the Tire Gauge to the City of Nashville during Goober Pyle Day in 1990 presented on behalf of the city's mayor by country music's Bellamy Brothers.)
After "Hee Haw" ended production in 1992, Lindsey, who was recently divorced, made his permanent home in Nashville. He maintained a busy schedule of stage and film work. He embraced the Goober character to the point that he often gave up his customary tuxedo and wore the "Goober Suit" for his stand-up shows.
In the wake of the hit Return to Mayberry made-for-TV movie in 1986, Lindsey's appearances at Mayberry reunion shows and festivals drew large crowds of enthusiastic fans over the next two decades. Several television retrospectives for "The Andy Griffith Show" also garnered high ratings. In 2004, Lindsey shared the TV Land Legend Award with other members of the "Griffith" cast and crew.
In addition to hosting the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival the last 15 years, Lindsey continued to find varied and fulfilling work. From NBC's "News Radio" in 1997 and serving as host of the Turner South series "Liars & Legends" in 2000 to the country music single and video for "Find Me a Man Like Goober" in 2007 and Larry the Cable Guy's "Hula -Palooza Christmas Luau" in 2009, Lindsey constantly found opportunities to savor the spotlight and bring smiles to as many faces as possible. He was an eager participant in "Salute to the Kornfield," a "Hee Haw" reunion created for both a series of DVDs in 2011 and a cable TV special this year.
Lindsey often commented that he was torn about what he wanted his tombstone to say. One choice goes for the joke: "I told you I was sick." The other goes for the heart: "I hope I made you laugh."
George Lindsey is survived by son George Lindsey, Jr., of Woodland Hills, Calif.; daughter Camden Jo Lindsey Gardner, her husband Russell and their sons, Carson Cole Gardner and Andrew Liam Gardner, all of Valencia, Calif.; a cousin, Rebecca Weber of Gadsden, Ala.; and his dear companion of many years, Anne Wilson of Nashville, Tenn.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Lindsey's memory may be made to: Special Olympics Alabama, 880 South Court Street, Montgomery, AL 36104; UNA Foundation, with a designation to the George Lindsey Film and Digital Media Scholarship, UNA Box 5113, Florence, AL 35632-0001; or another charity of the donor's choice.
In a statement, Andy Griffith said, "George Lindsey was my friend. I had great respect for his talent and his human spirit. 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.'
"George often told me his fondest memories of his life in show business were the years he spent working on The Andy Griffith Show' and Mayberry R.F.D.' They were for me, too."
Here is Andy Griffith's Obituary from the New York Times
Andy Griffith, TV's Lawman and Moral Compass, Dies at 86
By DOUGLAS MARTIN JULY 3, 2012 (NYT)
Andy Griffith, an actor whose folksy Southern manner charmed audiences for more than 50 years on Broadway, in movies, on albums and especially on television most notably as the small-town sheriff on the long-running situation comedy that bore his name died on Tuesday at his home on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. He was 86.
His death was confirmed by the Dare County sheriff, Doug Doughtie.
Mr. Griffith was already a star on Broadway in No Time for Sergeants and in Hollywood in Elia Kazan's film A Face in the Crowd when The Andy Griffith Show made its debut in the fall of 1960. And he delighted a later generation of television viewers in the 1980s and 90s in the title role of the courtroom drama Matlock.
But his fame was never as great as it was in the 1960s, when he starred for eight years as Andy Taylor, the sagacious sheriff of the make-believe town of Mayberry, N.C. Every week he rode herd on a collection of eccentrics, among them his high-strung deputy, Barney Fife, and the simple-minded gas station attendant Gomer Pyle. Meanwhile, as a widower, Andy raised a young son, Opie, and often went fishing with him. The Andy Griffith Show, seen Monday nights on CBS, was No. 4 in the Nielsen ratings its first year and never fell below the Top 10. It was No. 1 in 1968, its last season. After the run ended with Episode No. 249, the show lived on in spinoff series, endless reruns and even Sunday school classes organized around its rustic moral lessons.
The show imagined a reassuring world of fishin holes, ice cream socials and rock-hard family values during a decade that grew progressively tumultuous. Its vision of rural simplicity (captured in its memorable theme song, whistled over the opening credits) was part of a TV trend that began with The Real McCoys on ABC in 1957 and later included The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, Green Acres and Hee Haw.
But by the late 1960s, the younger viewers networks prized were spurning corn pone, and Mr. Griffith had decided to leave after the 1966-67 season to make movies. CBS made a lucrative offer for him to do one more season, and The Andy Griffith Show became the No. 1 series in the 1967-68 season. But Mr. Griffith had decided to move on, and so had the times. Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, with its one-liners about drugs and Vietnam, and The Mod Squad, about an integrated trio of undercover officers, were grabbing a new audience.
But the characters in The Andy Griffith Show Barney (Don Knotts), Gomer (Jim Nabors), Opie (Ron Howard, who went on to fame as a movie director), Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) and the rest, including Gomer's cousin Goober Pyle (George Lindsey, who died in May) have remained tantalizingly real to their fans, who continue to watch reruns on cable TV and online.
Andy Griffith was more complex than Andy Taylor, although the show was based on his hometown, Mount Airy, N.C. Before he fetched up in Mayberry, he was known for bringing authenticity to dark roles, beginning with the lead in A Face in the Crowd, in 1957, the story of a rough-hewn television personality who, in the clutches of his city-slicker handlers, becomes something of a megalomaniac.
From the 1970s to the 1990s, Mr. Griffith starred in no fewer than six movies with the words murder or kill in their titles. In 1983, in Murder in Coweta County, he played a chillingly wicked man who remains stone cold even as he is strapped into the electric chair.
Sheriff Taylor aside, Mr. Griffith was no happy rustic; he enjoyed life in Hollywood and knew his way around a wine list. His career was tightly controlled by a personal manager, Richard O. Linke.
If there is ever a question about something, I will do what he wants me to do, Mr. Griffith told The New York Times Magazine in 1970. Had it not been for him, I would have gone down the toilet.
Far from the gregarious Andy Taylor, Mr. Griffith was a loner and a worrier. He once hit a door in anger, and for two episodes of The Andy Griffith Show he had a bandaged hand (explained on the show as an injury Andy received while apprehending criminals).
But the show's 35 million viewers would have been reassured to learn that even at the peak of his popularity, Mr. Griffith drove a Ford station wagon and bought his suits off the rack. He said his favorite honor was having a stretch of a North Carolina highway named after him in 2002. (That was before President George W. Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.)
He was also gratified to find his character ranked No. 8 on TV Guide's list of the 50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time in 2004. (Bill Cosby's Dr. Cliff Huxtable was No. 1.) But one honor denied him was an Emmy Award: he was nominated only once, for his role in the TV movie Murder in Texas. The Andy Griffith Show itself, though nominated three times, also never won an Emmy, but Mr. Knotts did five times for his performance as Deputy Fife, and so did Ms. Bavier, once, as Andy's aunt.
Andy Samuel Griffith was born in Mount Airy on June 1, 1926, the only child of Carl Lee Griffith and the former Geneva Nann Nunn. His father was a foreman at a furniture factory. Mr. Griffith described his childhood as happy, but said he never forgot the pain he felt when someone called him white trash.
After seeing the trombonist Jack Teagarden in the 1941 film Birth of the Blues, he bought a trombone from Sears, Roebuck & Company, then wheedled lessons out of a local pastor, who later recommended him to the University of North Carolina, where he won a music degree and married Barbara Edwards.
He moved on to singing, and for a while hoped to be an opera singer. He tried teaching music and phonetics in a high school but left after three frustrating years. First day, I'd tell the class all I knew, he told The Saturday Evening Post in 1964, and there was nothing left to say for the rest of the semester.
In spare moments Mr. Griffith and his wife put together an act in which he posed as a country preacher and told jokes (one was about putting frogs in the baptismal water) while she danced. They played local civic clubs.
In 1953, performing for an insurance convention, Mr. Griffith, in his bumpkin preacher persona, told a comic first-person tale about attending a college football game and trying to figure out what was going on. Some 500 discs of the monologue were pressed under the title What It Was, Was Football, and it became a hit on local radio. Mr. Linke, then with Capitol Records, scurried to North Carolina to acquire the rights and sign Mr. Griffith.
Mr. Linke was soon guiding him onto television and nightclub stages. But Mr. Griffith's big break came on Broadway, in 1955, when he was cast in No Time for Sergeants as a mountain yokel drafted into the Air Force a role he had played on television, on The United States Steel Hour. The play was a hit, running for almost two years, and he reprised the role for the 1958 film version.
His first movie role, in A Face in the Crowd, was far more complicated. The character, Larry Rhodes, known as Lonesome, is a vagrant who is discovered playing the guitar in an Arkansas jail and then groomed to become a beloved television star, only to be undone by his dark side. Mr. Griffith told The New York Times Magazine that he was so consumed by the stormy character that it affected his marriage.
I'll tell you the truth, he said. You play an egomaniac and paranoid all day and it's hard to turn it off at bedtime. We went through a nightmare.
In 1959, Mr. Griffith returned to Broadway in the musical comedy Destry Rides Again, in a role that had been played in films by Tom Mix, James Stewart, Joel McCrea and Audie Murphy. Though reviews were mixed, Newsday declared, There isn't a more likable personality around than Andy Griffith.
The pilot of The Andy Griffith Show, in February 1960, was actually an episode of The Danny Thomas Show in which Mr. Thomas, as Danny Williams, is arrested by a sheriff for running through a stop sign while driving through Mayberry.
Danny baits the sheriff, calling him hayseed and Clem.
The name ain't Clem, it's Andy, Sheriff Andy Taylor! he responds.
Sheldon Leonard, producer of Mr. Thomas's show, had decided to build a sitcom around Mr. Griffith after seeing him in Destry. Mr. Griffith negotiated for 50 percent ownership, which gave him a large say in the show's development.
Critical to the show's success was the casting of Mr. Knotts as the inept but lovable Barney Fife. So was the simple but appealing formula: characters would confront a problem, then resolve it by exercising honesty or some other virtue.
When Mr. Knotts left the show in 1965, a year after Mr. Nabors, Mr. Griffith became nervous about its future, he said. But though some critics and viewers said the show in its later years lacked the sparkle it had once possessed, its ratings never tottered.
Still, after the 1967-68 season, Mr. Griffith had had enough and left the show. But he did produce a kind of sequel series for the following season, Mayberry R.F.D., with Ken Berry starring as a widowed farmer alongside many of the regular characters from Andy Griffith. It ran three seasons.
Mr. Griffith's acting career stalled afterward, despite a five-year deal with Universal Pictures. He said he was not offered roles he wanted to play. Returning to television in 1970, he starred in two short-lived shows, The Headmaster and The New Andy Griffith Show.
Then came a raft of made-for-TV movies. One, Diary of a Perfect Murder, served as the pilot for a new series, Matlock, in which Mr. Griffith played a rumpled but cagey defense lawyer. The show's run, from 1986 to 1995, exceeded that of The Andy Griffith Show.
Mr. Griffith continued to play occasional movie and television parts, including that of an 80-something widower who rediscovers romance, and sex, in a nursing home in Play the Game.
He never lost his singing voice. In 1996 he recorded a gospel album, I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns, which won a Grammy.
In 2010 he showed a political side when he extolled President Obama's health care legislation in a television commercial for it. Republican politicians and conservative talk show hosts leapt on him, and Jon Stewart made boisterous fun of the brouhaha on The Daily Show.
Mr. Griffith's marriage to Barbara Edwards, in 1949, ended in divorce in 1972. An eight-year marriage to the Greek actress Solica Cassuto ended in divorce in 1981. In 1983, he married Cindi Knight, who survives him, as does a daughter from his first marriage, Dixie Griffith. A son from his first marriage, Andy Jr., known as Sam, died in 1996.
To viewers, Mr. Griffith's portrayal of the sheriff seemed so effortless, they presumed he was just playing himself. He wasn't, he insisted; he was always acting. But he took that misimpression as a compliment to his artistry.
You're supposed to believe in the character, he said. You're not supposed to think, Gee, Andy's acting up a storm.
Correction: July 9, 2012
Because of an editing error, an obituary on Wednesday about the actor Andy Griffith misidentified the television anthology series on which he starred in one episode, an adaptation of the novel No Time for Sergeants, in 1955, before playing the same role in the stage and film versions of the same story. The show was The United States Steel Hour, not Playhouse 90. And also because of an editing error, the obituary referred incorrectly to Mr. Griffith's son, Andy Jr. (who died in 1996), and his daughter, Dixie Griffith. They were the children of his first marriage, not his third.
Here is Jim Nabors Obituary from USA TODAY
Jim Nabors, 'Gomer Pyle' star, dead at 87
Bill Keveney, USA TODAY Published 1:10 p.m. ET Nov. 30, 2017 | Updated 3:45 p.m. ET Nov. 30, 2017
Jim Nabors, who created one of TV’s beloved comedic characters, Gomer Pyle, died Thursday in Hawaii at the age of 87, his personal assistant, Charisse Gines, confirmed for USA TODAY.
The entertainer, who underwent a liver transplant in 1994 after contracting hepatitis B, died peacefully at his home after his health had declined for the past year, his husband, Stan Cadwallader, told the Associated Press.
"Everybody knows he was a wonderful man. And that's all we can say about him. He's going to be dearly missed," said Cadwallader, who married Nabors in early 2013 in Washington state.
The Alabama native had a long career that featured TV and movie roles, more than two dozen albums and numerous concert appearances, including long-running shows in Las Vegas and Hawaii, which became his home in the 1970s. He bought a 500-acre macadamia ranch there.
Nabors was best known for his role as the sweet, gentle Marine in the title role of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., a CBS comedy that was a top-five hit during its five-season run in the 1960s. Gomer’s dust-ups with his hard-nosed superior, Sgt. Carter (Frank Sutton), were the heart of the show, and the character’s trademark exclamations — “Well, Golllll-ly!” and “Shazam!”— became familiar to millions.
The University of Alabama graduate moved to Los Angeles as a young man, taking a job as a film cutter at NBC. In his spare time, he acted and sang at a Santa Monica cabaret theater, The Horn. Andy Griffith saw him there and later offered him the the chance to audition for the role of Pyle, the innocent gas station attendant on The Andy Griffith Show. The character’s popularity led to the later spinoff.
After Pyle ended, Nabors hosted his own variety show, The Jim Nabors Hour, which ran for two seasons. He also was a guest on other variety hours, including The Carol Burnett Show and The Sonny and Cher Show.
On the big screen, Nabors had roles in three films starring his friend, Burt Reynolds: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Stroker Ace and Cannonball Run II. He received a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991.
On the music side, Nabors launched a successful career with his distinctive baritone. The public got a taste of it when he sang on Andy Griffith. Over the years, he released 28 albums and had five gold records and one platinum record.
He also lent his voice to the Indianapolis 500, making his rendition of Back Home Again in Indiana a staple of the annual race since 1972. He sang the song for the last time at the Indy 500 in 2014.
For some articles on the Andy Griffith Show go to http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=B7tIAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lgENAAAAIBAJ&dq=andy%20griffith%20show&pg=1451%2C3763957 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Lk0fAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lNEEAAAAIBAJ&dq=andy%20griffith%20show&pg=845%2C331430 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=B_JNAAAAIBAJ&sjid=qIoDAAAAIBAJ&dq=frances%20bavier&pg=6704%2C1928768 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=VgcTAAAAIBAJ&sjid=EgUEAAAAIBAJ&dq=andy%20griffith%20show&pg=6574%2C496414 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=8o4lAAAAIBAJ&sjid=AfMFAAAAIBAJ&dq=andy%20griffith%20show&pg=990%2C2163830 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=eiRjAAAAIBAJ&sjid=oXMNAAAAIBAJ&dq=andy%20griffith%20show&pg=3574%2C2524849 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=am8eAAAAIBAJ&sjid=o8kEAAAAIBAJ&dq=andy%20griffith&pg=817%2C2143671 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=wZZPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=7gUEAAAAIBAJ&dq=frances%20bavier&pg=4628%2C3378649
To watch some episodes from the Andy Griffith Show go to http://www.solie.org/alibrary/AndyGriffithShow.html
To go to Tim's TV Showcase go to http://timvp.com/tv/andygriffithshow/
To go to a page dedicated to The Andy Griffith Show go to https://web.archive.org/web/20100108003733/http://tvland.classictvhits.com/AndyGriffith/
For an episode guide go to http://ctva.biz/US/Comedy/AndyGriffithShow.htm
For a website dedicated to Barney go to http://www.barneyfife.com/
For a Website dedicated to Ernest T. Bass go to http://ernestt.com/bass/
For the Official website of Jean Carson go to http://www.imayberry.com/tagsrwc/hellodoll/
For the Official Website of Jim Nabors go to http://www.jimnabors.com/
To go behind the scenes with The Andy Griffith Show go to http://www.telovation.com/andy-griffith-show/
For some Andy Griffith Show-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/shows/andy-griffith-show-the
For 2 excellent reviews of this classic sitcom go to https://web.archive.org/web/20100210225212/http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=andygriffith and https://web.archive.org/web/20090709061138/www.televisionheaven.co.uk/ag.htm
To hear Andy Griffith sing the theme song go to http://www.televisiontunes.com/Andy_Griffith_Show_-_Andy_Singing.html
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Keywords: Andy Griffith Show