George Lindsey, best known for his portrayal as the dense but gentle “Goober Pyle” on ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ has died after suffering from a brief illness. He was 83 years old.

In a statement released through the Marshall-Donnelly-Combs Funeral home in Nashville, 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 … 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.’”

Goober was the Alabama-raised actor’s big break in the early 60s. The character, portraying Gomer Pyle’s cousin, was created to replace Jim Nabors after he left the show in 1964.

Although he was best known as Goober, Lindsey had a long television career that included a recurring role on ‘Hee-Haw,’ and ‘Love, American Style,’ an episode of ‘M*A*S*H,’ and ‘The Twilight Zone,’ as well as three episodes of ‘The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,’ to name a few.

He also enjoyed a successful career in the movies, appearing in ‘Cannonball Run II’ and ‘Take This Job and Shove It.’ Lindsey’s voice was also used in the Walt Disney classics ‘The Aristocrats,’ ‘Robin Hood,’ and finally ‘The Rescuers’ in 1977.

Lindsey devoted a great deal of time to raising money for the Alabama Special Olympics. For 17 years he also sponsored a celebrity golf tournament in Montgomery, Alabama, raising money for people with mental disabilities.

– Written by Mike Adams