How Goober Pyle saved a life

George Lindsey saved the life of an Oscar winner, and didn't know until years later.

When you think of Goober Pyle, the happy-go-lucky mechanic is not usually one you think of when it comes to saving lives. While he served as emergency deputy a few times when Mayberry needed him, he was usually just happy working at Wally's Filling Station.

However, behind-the-scenes, the actor who played Goober, George Lindsey, would be credited for saving the life of an Oscar-winning actor.

Ernest Borgnine, best known for his work on McHale's Navy and Airwolf, won an Oscar for his role in the 1955 film Marty which also went on to take the Best Picture Oscar. Younger generations may know him as the voice of Mermaid Man on SpongeBob SquarePants. What you may not know is that he was a close friend of George Lindsey.

Lindsey and Borgnine met by chance, when a mutual friend invited Lindsey to join them for lunch. Lindsey was a big fan of Borgnine, and jumped at the opportunity to meet the talented actor.

The trio met for lunch and got to talking. Eventually, the mutual friend had to leave for work, leaving Lindsey and Borgnine behind. Lindsey asked what Borgnine was doing after this, and Borgnine said he had to see a mechanic. Lindsey managed to convince him to play a round of golf with him instead, which turned into dinner, which turned into hours of talking. 

The two parted as good friends and stayed in contact for years afterward.

It wasn't until years later, in 1992, when Borgnine did an interview with A Current Affair that George Lindsey learned he had saved his friend's life that day at lunch. Borgnine had been considering suicide that morning, but Lindsey talking him into a game of golf had changed his plans.

"He had been thinking about killing himself, but instead he went and played golf with me," Lindsey wrote in his memoir. "He said that I was responsible for saving his life. I never knew until he revealed it on A Current Affair."

Borgnine went on to live to the age of 95.

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bagandwallyfan52 30 months ago
Sad News
Betty Lynn who played
Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show has passed away in 2021
At age 95
bdettlingmetv 31 months ago
Oh, how wonderful. I was multitasking just now, so I took advantage of the audio bot reading to hear the story while I wrapped up my work day. When it go to the crux of the story, though, I just stopped in my tracks and teared up. So glad things worked out that way. Suffice it to say that suicide has touched my life closely (as, of course, it has with way too many other folks). I am so happy to hear of this outcome- our world (and lives) just would not be the same had Mr. Borgnine not been deflected from that path on that day.
texasluva 31 months ago
It is amazing that things like this and others change the course of life and history. Then you start to think, what if? What if Marylyn Monroe had a friend that talked her out of certain things that led up to her demise. What if Robert Walker's friend did not help hold him down so that the psychiatrist would not give that lethal shot that killed him in minutes that night. The combination of alcohol and amobarbital on August 28, 1951, 32 years old. There are hundreds if not thousands of situations of who would have gotten a important part and who didn't. Along with trying to live up to ones expectations in life. I did not learn about this until this story. I knew which someone pointed out below about his bad marriage to Ethel merman. It gives us things to think about in life's ventures. Happy that Ernest lived to age 95.
F5Twitster 31 months ago
The article doesn't say when that lunch took place, but the smart money says it was 1964, the year of Borgnine's disastrous, at-each-other's-throat four-month-long marriage to Ethel Merman. If so, it doesn't surprise me a bit that it might've tempted Ernie to pull the plug.

Thank heaven for Lindsey's intercession; I met Borgnine and he was truly one of those people it was a joy to be around. As for his work, which he loved and of which he was terriby proud, it speaks for itself.
mackjaz 31 months ago
In Bruce Campbell's book "If Chins Could Kill", he mentioned how professional Ernest Borgnine was on set of "Down Periscope". Rather than run off to his trailer after EVERY SINGLE SHOT, which apparently some actors do, the elderly man stood by in the heat awaiting the next scene.
BrentDotson mackjaz 31 months ago
Ernest Borgnine was not in the movie, "Down Periscope" Perhaps, you're thinking of the reboot Movie McHale's Navy
harlow1313 31 months ago
That is a very interesting story. So down-to-earth human.

Sometimes a kind word can change a person's day. I have experienced that.

I very much like the movie, "Marty."
BarnabyMannix 31 months ago
Coincidentally, Frank Sinatra also saved Borgnine's life...In Las Vegas one night four guys were beating Borgnine to a pulp, when Sinatra said "That's enough"
Runeshaper 31 months ago
Wow! That gave me the chills, but I'm happy to hear that George Lindsey was able to (even unknowingly) help save Ernest Borgnine. Thanks for sharing this story, MeTV! (-:
LoveMETV22 31 months ago
That was a nice homage to George Lindsey. Ernest Borgnine was a great actor in his own right and thankfully he had a good friend in George.
Andybandit 31 months ago
I meant he was a good actor.
Andybandit 31 months ago
Good for George Lindsey. He is was a good actor.
ELEANOR 31 months ago
What a wonderful story. Do you just suppose that the man upstairs had something to do with how the day transpired?
Coldnorth ELEANOR 31 months ago
We will probably never really know the impact we have on other people’s lives. Sometimes we find out other times we have no clue.
harlow1313 ELEANOR 31 months ago
No, I am a non-believer, so I don't believe reality works that way.

Please note that I don't mind that you believe differently. Best wishes.
mackjaz ELEANOR 31 months ago
The only entity that deserves thanks is Mr. Lindsey. He's the one whose action saved a life.
Zip ELEANOR 30 months ago
Personally, I believe so.
Moriyah 31 months ago
There was an episode of Gomer Pyle where Sgt. Carter saved Gomer's life. I absolutely love that episode because Gomer does nice things for Sgt. Carter! Have y'all see it before? (Let me know)
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MrsPhilHarris Moriyah 31 months ago
Originally no, but wasn’t it on recently?
Moriyah MrsPhilHarris 31 months ago
It was on back in July. But that episode is probably not gonna come back on until February of next year. But it's really good, though!
MrsPhilHarris Moriyah 31 months ago
Lol I thought I had just seen it.
Moriyah MrsPhilHarris 31 months ago
Yeah, I saw it back in July as well!
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