Lindsey, Borgnine help administrators open new black box theater on UNA campus

George Lindsey, who played Goober in the “Andy Griffith Show,” and friend and actor Ernest Borgnine at the opening of the new black box theater on the UNA campus March 2. Lindsey, a former movie and television star, is the UNA alumnus the theater is named after, while the performance center was named after Borgnine.

The ribbon was cut March 2 to declare the George S. Lindsey Black Box Theater and the Ernest Borgnine Performance Hall—at the corner of Pine and Irvine Streets—officially opened.

For a year, passage through Irvine Street was limited due to construction. Now a brand new theater stands dedicated to UNA’s most famous alumnus, George Lindsey, along with an inside performance hall named after another legendary actor, Ernest Borgnine.

“It was almost one year to the day, on March 4, when we celebrated the ground breaking of this facility,” said UNA President Bill Cale at the opening of the ceremony. “Now it awaits the ribbon cutting.”

David McCullough, chair at the Department of Music and Theater, said he was impressed with the speed of the project and expressed his gratitude to those who put so much time into building it.

“It has been successful all around already,” he said. “To be able to start this project and complete it in a year is great progress.”

The idea of building a black box theater lasted much longer than the construction. Steve Pierce, UNA board of trustees president pro tem, noted that the trustees had been working for decades to get the project off the ground.

“There are members of UNA who have passed away before this project was complete,” McCullough said.

Lindsey and Borgnine were both present at the opening ceremony as the two guests of honor, who president Cale described as “treasures of the entertainment world.”

“I think it’s a great privilege to be remembered this way,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey is well remembered most for his role as the auto mechanic Goober Pyle in the television series “The Andy Griffith Show.” Other appearances include “Mayberry,” “R.F.D.,” “Gunsmoke,” “M*A*S*H*” and “Hee-Haw.”

Borgnine was also honored for his success in the entertainment industry in both television and movies such as “McHale’s Navy,” “Marty,” “From Here to Eternity,” “The Dirty Dozen” and many more. Borgnine donated these scripts and others to the theatre for student use.

“I take great pleasure in knowing that (my scripts) are being put to good use, and that’s what counts,” Borgnine said.

Borgnine’s speech to the audience filled the hall with laughter, emphasizing his strong friendship with Lindsey and what they went through together.

“We’ve been everywhere, done everything, seen everybody, and it’s been great,” Borgnine said.

When Lindsey took the floor, he opened up with his poem “What Mayberry Means to Me,”—which also appears in his autobiography “Goober in a Nutshell,”—in honor of his career on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Many in the audience took time to ask Lindsey questions related to his career as Goober. He also gave some advice to students in their own rise to success.

“Don’t give up; don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it, because you can,” Lindsey said. “It’s not the easiest profession in the world, but someone’s got to do I,t and it may as well be you.”

The new theatre opens doors for the university to efficiently help students who pursue majors in entertainment by providing a better place to work, McCullough said.

“I look forward to using this theatre for its original purpose,” McCullough said. “The university provides a theatre program, but we’ve had a disadvantage in the past because we didn’t have the facilities.”