George ''Goober'' Lindsey was the first choice to play Spock and our mind is still blown

Can you imagine the Mayberry Mind Meld?

Mayberry and the Starship Enterprise have their connections. Though The Andy Griffith Show and Star Trek were light-years apart in concept, the iconic Sixties television series sometimes shared a production location, the 40 Acres studio lot in Culver City, California. This is why you can spot Walker's Drugstore and Floyd's Barber Shop in the Star Trek episodes "Miri" and "City on the Edge of Forever."

But there is a bigger "What if?" that could have bridged the two shows to an even greater degree. And we still can't meld our minds with this fact.

In a broadcast celebration of Star Trek's 40th Anniversary back in 2006, Leonard Nimoy mentioned in an interview that George Lindsey had been Gene Roddenberry's first choice to portray Spock. Yes, the George Lindsey that played Goober Pyle.

Spock did go through a significant evolution in the development process, as the Vulcan had everything from red skin and a British accent to a tail in his early stages. In casting, a handful of actors were reportedly considered for the part, including Martin Landau, Rex Homan and Michael Dunn. (The latter two would later play small parts on Star Trek.)

Those performers would have certainly been a different flavor of Spock. But George Lindsey? Goober Pyle? Gomer's cousin? The dim-witted, kind-hearted filling station employee? Well, that is another universe.

While some questioned the validity of Nimoy's claim, another 1960s star confirmed this curious piece of TV history a couple of years later.

Ernest Borgnine of McHale's Navy published a memoir titled Ernie in 2008. Late in the book, Borgnine took time to gush about his friendship with Lindsey.

Oddly enough, they met in a gas station. Borgnine was going through a rough patch in his marriage and took his car out for a spin to clear his head. He stopped for a lube job and oil change and bumped into Lindsey while getting a cup of coffee.

"My name is George Lindsey," Lindsey introduced himself. "I play Goober on The Andy Griffith Show."

The two actors started chatting, went for a spin in Lindsey's car, played some golf, and opened up about their relationships. They became quick friends.

So, about the Spock thing. Borgnine went on to write:

"To this day I think that George Lindsey is one of the great guys in the world. I can't say too much about that old boy and how he used to keep me in stitches talking about his home in Alabama, how he gave up being a science teacher to act, and how — my hand to God — he turned down the part of Mr. Spock on TV's Star Trek."

There you have it, from one BFF to another.

Because of his brilliance as country bumpkins on The Andy Griffith Show and Hee Haw, might not seem like a Federation science officer. But Lindsey did actually teach science. And if the Enterprise ever needed a carburetor change? Well, Goober was the man for the job. He could have been a Scotty, for sure.

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Barnbaby 18 days ago
Had to check the calendar to make sure it wasn't April Fool's day.
Dale 19 days ago
Did the MeTV writer mean to type Rex Holman and not "Homan" as another consideration for Spock?
BKJackson 19 days ago
No disrespect to George Lindsey (or anybody else who was ever considered to play the role of Spock) but the world would have been done a great disservice because Leonard Nimoy was destined to be Spock, creating my all time favorite character in a way only Nimoy could have delivered. For that I am truly thankful.
Sammi 21 days ago
George Lindsey had a few bad guy roles in some of the early B&W TV westerns. You really have to look close to recognize him. He probably could have pulled off a serious role like Spock.
JV 22 days ago
I think I kind of would've like to see Lindsey in a serious role like Spock. He was such a good actor, he could pull it off. Never was that big of a fan of Nimoy. He was all right, and that's about it. Definitely not my favorite actor or character on TOS.
RichardJohnFuller 23 days ago
If you can find one, check out any serious performance by Lindsey and you can see how he might have worked.
He's in the Twilight Zone episode, I Am The Night, Color Me Black, as well as the absolutely haunting Hitchcock episode The Jar.
With makeup and direction, I could see him doing Spock.
All the critics are envisioning Goober Pyle in the role, not George Lindsey.
I've seen both of those and you're right about Lindsey having some range. However, both those shows took place in Southern towns similar to Mayberry, so I question whether he could have played Spock!
DavidOsterman 23 days ago
the double edged nature of perfect casting: Leonard Nimoy became Spock and so we can't imagine anyone else in that role; George Lindsay became Goober Pyle and we can't imagine the actor performing in any other type of role (watch the westerns on ME-TV from the fifties and sixties: a lot of actors like Nimoy, Lindsey and Russell "the Professor" Johnson made their living playing bad guys/shady characters before they landed the roles that made them famous)
ELEANOR DavidOsterman 23 days ago
Also watch Perry Mason. Leonard Nimoy and Deforest Kelley both showed up on PM. Take off the hat and glasses and you'll find Gavin McLloyd. And Dr. Early (Bobby Troup) of Emergency! sings and plays a jazzy piano. He also wrote the music.
Yes, Barbara Eden and Frances Bouvier among others made early appearances on Mason!
That's Bavier. Bouvier was Jackie Kennedy's maiden name.
You want to see Frances play a bad character: Have you seen her appearance on The Lone Ranger? She ostensibly played a law abiding citizen, when in actuality, she was masterminding the nefarious acts of her nephews.
Sorry for the misspells of Bavier and other assorted ones i may have made! Never saw her Lone Ranger!
Wiseguy EleanorLawson 21 days ago
John Hoyt and Paul Fix also appeared on Perry Mason, all three original Star Trek doctors.
They were showing an episode of Night Gallery last week with Nimoy as a somewhat unhinged widower. I'm sure he was trying to stretch his acting chops after Star Trek was canceled. He was still a pretty calm, collected character when he joined the MI cast after ST.
cperrynaples 23 days ago
Actually, wasn't every role Michael Dunn did small...LOL!!! MeTV fans will also remember him as Dr. Loveless on WWW and Mr. Big in the pilot for Get Smart!
anthony 23 days ago
Here are some others.Ray Liotta/Tony Soprano. Michael Richards/Adrian Monk/Al Bundy.Jayne Mansfield/Ginger Grant.Bing Crosby/Columbo.Paul Shaffer/George Costanza.Ed O'neill/Sam Malone.John Lithgow/Frasier Crane.
cperrynaples anthony 23 days ago
I know most of these! I don't think Michael Richards was up for Al Bundy, but Sam Kinison was, as was Roseanne Barr for Peg! Paul Shaffer was never asked to be George, but Rosie O'Donnell was up for Elaine! The first choice for Sam was Fred Dryer, later to star in Hunter!
Sam Malone actually came down to Ted Danson, Fred Dwyer and William Devane. They do have an odd trio look about them. I used to imagine Devane sparring with Shelly Long.
William Devane famously played President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on ABC's The Missiles of October, so having Sam Malone look like JFK especially in a Boston drinking establishment would've been much too creepy.
cperrynaples UTZAAKE 22 days ago
Isn't it sad that Devane can't get anything better than selling gold futures on Fox News? Hitchcock handpicked him to play the bad guy in Family Plot. Bonus Question: What newly-added MeTV star was Hitchcock's second choice for that role?
Yes, the star of The Invaders,which I haven't seen yet but I intend to!
Wiseguy anthony 21 days ago
also Mickey Rooney/Archie Bunker. In the original pilots of Gilligan's Island, Three's Company and All in the Family you can see the various actors originally chosen to play supporting roles.
MattAlbrecht 24 days ago
This is a bombshell. In an interview with Gene himself (which I heard with my own ears) Nimoy was really the only one to get any serious consideration
Pacificsun MattAlbrecht 21 days ago
Thank you, at last a sane contribution.
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