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|The Andy Griffith Show character|
George Lindsey as Goober Pyle in his signature beanie
|First appearance||13 April 1964|
|Portrayed by||George Lindsey|
|Significant other(s)||Anne Wilson|
|Relatives||Braden Pyle (brother), Gomer Pyle (cousin)|
Goober Pyle is a fictional character in the American TV sitcom The Andy Griffith Show and its later sequel series Mayberry RFD. He was played by George Lindsey. Lindsey initially read for the part of Gomer Pyle, Goober's cousin, which eventually went to actor-singer Jim Nabors. The two actors had similar backgrounds; Lindsey was originally from Jasper, Alabama, while Nabors was originally from Sylacauga, Alabama.
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"Goober" is an Americanization of the West African Kongo language word "Nguba", meaning Peanut. "Goober Peas" is another variation of this term, and may have provided the inspiration for the character's original name. Goober was the cousin of Gomer Pyle who was initially often referred to by Gomer but never seen until his appearance in the episode "Fun Girls," which was the only Andy Griffith Show episode in which the two appeared together, although he would later appear in an episode of Gomer Pyle, USMC.
Both Pyle cousins worked at Wally's Filling Station, though not together, and were the show's comic relief. Lindsey was hired to fill the void when Gomer was spun off to join the United States Marine Corps. During season five, Goober was initially referred to as "Goober Beasley." To solidify the Gomer connection, his surname was changed to "Pyle." While Gomer always referenced Grandma Pyle, Goober never mentioned her.
Goober was viewed as backward and not very bright. This was perhaps best seen on The Andy Griffith Show episode where Goober believed his new dog spoke English, which then filled his head with make-it-rich scenarios. In reality, the "talking dog" was a practical joke played by Opie and a friend who had hidden a walkie-talkie under the dog's collar, giving voice to the shaggy beast.
Although Goober portrayed a somewhat childlike and happy-go-lucky character, he had the ability to view life and people with a sense of wonder and goodness. And his automotive mechanical skills were exceptional, as evidenced in one episode by taking Gilley Walker's car apart and reassembling it inside the sheriff's office, and then taking it apart again and reassembling it again outside.
Goober was similar to his cousin Gomer, though less animated. Both cousins shared a love for high-stepping, swing dancing, even when the music was far less dynamic.
Goober's older brother Braden was a noted rocket-scientist for NASA, and once visited Mayberry RFD on the 1969 episode, "Goober's Brother." Howard Sprague attributed the vast intellectual disparity between the brothers to Mendel's theory of recessive genes.
Goober was distinctively attired for the show. He was generally dressed in a work shirt, breast pocket filled with pencils, pens, and tire gauges. His dark blue Dickies work pants were hoisted high and cinched with a wide belt, giving him an Empire waistline. Work boots and a customized beanie hat or whoopee cap (similar to that of the comic character Jughead Jones) completed his episode-to-episode wardrobe.
Very occasionally, Goober would dress up for the rare formal occasion in a suit described as "an unsophisticated double-vested, brown pinstripe number with white socks" that was passed to him from his cousin Gomer. A garish tie completed the picture of the dressed-up Goober. Goober's suit was originally owned by Howard McNear (Floyd) who donated it for a friend's funeral. It was rejected and returned to the studio where it wound up in wardrobe.
On two occasions, Goober also wore one of Andy's suits, which was first lent to him in Raleigh at the auto show when his suit ripped. He also borrowed it again one time.
On August 27, 2010, the suit became part of the Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy, North Carolina. George Lindsey, who was 81 going on 82 that December, and rarely traveled, asked Jim Clark to appear in his place, telling the crowd, "He told me to say Goober says, 'Hey!'" Clark said Lindsey wore the suit while playing Goober on many Andy Griffith Show/ "RFD" episodes as well as on Hee Haw.
Goober was born in either 1940 or 1941 (he says he was five years old when he was a witness to Floyd punching Charles Foley on August 9, 1946 in the episode entitled "The Case of the Punch in the Nose"). He was raised in Mayberry, was trained as a mechanic in Raleigh, North Carolina, and served a stint in the North Carolina, National Guard where he picked up the phrase, "Yo." Goober worked at Wally's Filling Station, which he eventually purchased and became the proprietor of, later in the show's run. His girlfriend in four of the color episodes was Flora Malherbe, but his initial love interest was Lydia Crosswaith, who was originally from Greensboro, North Carolina.
Goober is known for his (bad) impressions of celebrities. He impersonates Cary Grant ("Judy, Judy, Judy!") and Edward G. Robinson ("OK, you guys. Come on, you guys. All right, you guys. Beat it, you guys."). He could also impersonate Chester Goode's walk from Gunsmoke and perform lame schtick such as simulating sewing up his fingers. The only people who were truly impressed by his talents were his cousin Gomer and the fun girls, Daphne and Skippy. He had a penchant for Super-Hero and monster comic books and B-grade, sci-fi movies. Both Pyle cousins had their own peculiar dance moves.
Goober is made an emergency deputy several times when minor crime waves erupted in Mayberry.
Goober appeared on 86 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show from 1964 through 1968, one episode each of Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. and The New Andy Griffith Show and then on 54 episodes of Mayberry R.F.D. until its cancellation in 1971. Following that, Lindsey spent roughly 20 years playing the character on Hee Haw from 1972 through 1992. Goober also appeared in the 1978 television movie "Goober & the Truckers Paradise" and the 1986 television reunion movie Return to Mayberry alongside his cousin Gomer for only the third time in television history (running the town's G 'n G gas station and auto repair shop). The characters also appeared together in one The Andy Griffith Show episode and one "Gomer Pyle USMC" episode.