By James B. Kelleher
(Reuters) - Actor George Lindsey, who played bumbling Goober Pyle on the 1960s TV series "The Andy Griffith Show," died on Sunday. He was 83.
Lindsey died in Nashville, Tennessee, after a brief illness, according to a statement from the Marshall-Donnelly-Combs Funeral Home.
Lindsey was asked in 1962 to audition for the role of a gas station attendant named Gomer Pyle on "The Andy Griffith Show," but lost the part to actor Jim Nabors.
Two years later, when Nabors' portrayal of Gomer Pyle became so popular that a spin-off program was created, Lindsey was cast as Gomer's cousin Goober Pyle.
For the next seven seasons - four on the "The Andy Griffith Show" and three on the sequel series, "Mayberry R.F.D." - Lindsey played the small town's forever-addled gas station attendant.
For many years afterward, he reprised the Goober Pyle role on the country variety program "Hee Haw" and the comedy circuit.
In a statement released by the funeral home, actor Andy Griffith said he considered Lindsey, who was active in raising money for the Special Olympics, a friend as well as a former colleague.
Griffith, 85, praised Lindsey's spirit and talent, and said they had often talked by phone in recent years.
"I am happy to say that as we found ourselves in our eighties, we were not afraid to say, 'I love you,'" Griffith said.
Born in Fairfield, Alabama, in 1928, Lindsey was active in theater in high school and college, an obituary posted on the funeral home's website said.
After graduating from Florence State Teachers College, military service and a brief stint as a teacher, Lindsey used GI Bill money to study at the American Theater Wing, the obituary said.
Lindsey's early work in Hollywood was in small parts on TV shows such as "The Rifleman," "Gunsmoke" and "The Twilight Zone."
(Editing By Colleen Jenkins and Eric Beech)