Goober Pyle Actor George Lindsey Saved the Life of an Oscar Winner and Didn’t Even Know

by Matthew Memrick
Goober Pyle Actor George Lindsey Saved the Life of an Oscar Winner and Didn't Even Know

Goober Pyle actor George Lindsey’s chance meeting with Oscar winner Ernest Borgnine turned into a life-saving event.

Lindsey was known for his role on the “Andy Griffith Show” and had other roles on “M*A*S*H*” and “Hee Haw.”

Borgnine starred on shows like “McHale’s Navy” and “Airwolf.” He also won an Oscar for the 1955 film “Marty.”

Lindsey and Borgnine met by chance, when a mutual friend invited Lindsey to join them for lunch. George Lindsey was a big fan of Borgnine, and jumped at the opportunity to meet the talented actor.

A Chance Meeting

According to a MeTV story, the mutual friend invited Lindsey to join him and the actor for a meal, as Lindsey was a big fan of the “McHale’s Navy” actor.

After the mutual friend left for a work shift, the two men stayed behind. Borgnine said he had to go and see a mechanic, but the Mayberry actor talked the star into playing golf. Golf turned into dinner, and both men talked for hours. Afterward, the two parted and became fast friends.

In 1992, Borgnine told the television show “A Current Affair” that Lindsey had saved his life that day. The actor had contemplated suicide, but George Lindsey’s plea for him to play golf saved Borgnine.

“He had been thinking about killing himself, but instead, he went and played golf with me,” Lindsey wrote in his memoir. “He said that I was responsible for saving his life. I never knew until he revealed it on A Current Affair.

George Lindsey died in May 2012 at 83. Borgnine died in July 2012 at age 95. 

Both men were veterans. Lindsey served in the Air Force and Borgnine, a World War II veteran from his Navy days. 

In Borgnine’s book, Ernie, the actor said Lindsey turned down the role of Spock for Star Trek.

Borgnine wrote the forward for Lindsey’s autobiography, “Goober in a Nutshell.” The actor even filmed a video tribute when the University of North Alabama honored George Lindsey.

Lindsey Meant For Gomer Role

In his autobiography, George Lindsey said he had early resentment toward “The Andy Griffith Show.” He was deeply angered, specifically after one episode. 

The “Man In A Hurry” episode stuck in Lindsey’s craw because he watched Jim Nabors shine in a role meant for him.

Show producers reportedly had Lindsey for the Gomer role, but Andy Griffith wanted to wait before show producers decided. Griffith had met Nabors in 1963 and, after seeing his show, urged producers to hire Nabors instead.

When Lindsey saw the episode, he hit the roof. The actor eventually was hired for the show, but notably, he didn’t talk to Nabors for a year outside the show.  

George Lindsey went on to star in the show for four seasons. 

Before getting bit by the acting bug, Lindsey earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Bioscience from the University of North Alabama. During that same time, he also was the quarterback of the football team.

After his Air Force service, George Lindsey worked as a science teacher before hitting it big with acting