George Lindsey was nearly cast as Gomer Pyle before Andy Griffith insisted on Jim Nabors

A story of what could've been!

CBS Television Distribution

Cousins are built-in friends. They're our relatives, sure, but they're far enough that they don't incur the wrath and trauma of whatever happens at home. Whenever we see them, it's a good time. Whether at a party, on vacation, or maybe at a reunion, it's always a treat to see one's cousins. Especially when you've got cousins around your age, they can be important confidants; they share your family history and can relate to you on almost any level.

However, there's always room for animosity, as was the case behind the scenes with two of TV's most famous cousins. Gomer and Goober Pyle may have been thick as thieves on The Andy Griffith Show, but things were complicated when the camera was off.

That's because, from George Lindsey's perspective, he should've been Gomer Pyle. The first— and undoubtedly more popular— Pyle to appear on the show, Gomer was famous enough for his own spin-off. But while Jim Nabors soared to fame and fortune playing that character, he might've accidentally stepped on his onscreen kin's toes.

According to Daniel de Visé's book Andy & Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show, George Lindsey was the producers' first choice to play the more famous Pyle cousin.

While the Andy Griffith Show staff was searching to expand the cast, producer Aaron Ruben settled on George Lindsey. Lindsey was a former collegiate football star who then acted on Broadway before making his way to Hollywood, where he scored some small parts on TV. 

"He read for me and he sounded very good, a real pro, and I was about to hire him," Ruben told de Visé. But then, fate intervened in the form of Andy Griffith.

"Andy came in after rehearsal one day and said, 'Have you already hired the guy to play the filling-station attendant?' And I said, 'I'm about to.' And he said, 'Before you do, would you meet somebody?'

"So in comes Jim Nabors. He has a script, he reads, and what he lacked in professionalism and experience he made up for with a certain naive charm that he had. And I said, 'Andy, let's try him. He sounds good.'"

While George Lindsey would eventually join the cast, it's fascinating to envision a timeline wherein he played Gomer from the start.

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8 Comments

Pauly_789 5 days ago
Gomer was okay, but Goober was 10x funnier.
MichaelPowers 6 days ago
George said in an interview that although his Goober character became a co-star on The Andy Griffith Show, he & Andy never really became friends. They had a professional relationship, but George said he was never part of the inner circle of friends that Andy had, which included Jim & Don Knotts.
MrsPhilHarris 8 days ago
Gomer would been completely different.
cperrynaples 8 days ago
Would you believe that according to a recent YouTube post, Lindsey was almost Spock? TRUE! He was Gene Roddenberry's first choice according to Leonard Nimoy AND Ernest Borgnine!
Jack Dodson auditioned for James Kirk.
nd1irish cperrynaples 6 days ago
What a coincidence. I once read that Leonard Nimoy was almost cast as Aunt Bea. 😂. “Opie, live long and prosper”🖖
JohnGrant cperrynaples 6 days ago
Theirs stories like this for many popular shows which makes you wonder how they would have turned out or remembered as
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