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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