The star of The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Jim Nabor has passed away at the age of 87. Nabors breathed his last in Hawaii after having been unwell for the last two years. After he underwent a liver transplant 20 years ago, his health had witnessed a constant decline. The news of his demise was confirmed by his longtime partner and husband since 2013, Stan Cadwallader.
Jim Nabors became famous in 1962 when he debuted on The Andy Griffith Show as Gomer Pyle. The character of a gas station attendant was famous for causing discomfort to Barney Fife (played by Don Knotts). Gomer Pyle became so popular on The Andy Griffith Show that Nabors got his own spin-off Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. on CBS in 1964. The spin-off turned out to be a huge success, and it continued till 1969. Gomer Pyle became famous for his catchphrases “Shazam” and “golly,” the latter was often extended for several added syllables. During an interview, Nabors said that he had never really aimed to be an actor.
“I had never acted. I have a degree in business, so I was singing in a little nightclub, and my act consisted of singing like this and talking like this. It sort of got everyone’s attention. It was kind of surprising to me. Andy Griffith saw me there one night and, long story short, he invited to have me.”
Besides his acting career, Jim Nabors was a noteworthy singer. His album Jim Nabors Sings With All Your Heart, which released in 1966 went on the Billboard Top 25 and went gold after selling more than 500,000 copies. He produced one dozen albums up to 1972 and one of them Jim Nabors Christmas Album became a top seller holiday album in 1967.
Jim Nabors was famous for being a singer at the Indy 500 each year until 2014, which happened to be his last performance. When he was first invited to sing at the event, he planned to sing God Bless America, but, he ultimately sang Back Home Again in Indiana. WTHR Sports Director Dave Calabro was a friend of Nabors, and he had worked with Nabors at the time when he used to sing at Indianapolis 500, and this is what he said about the late singer/actor.
“He always loved coming back for that annual singing of ‘Back Home Again in Indiana.’ We lost a great friend and legend. He was just a common guy. He never put on airs. He was approachable; he loved people, he loved the fans. He didn’t care who you were, what you were, he just loved people.”
Jim Nabors often appeared as a guest star on various shows such as The Carol Burnett Show in the 60s and the 70s besides playing Gomer Pyle. His last acting stint was as Gomer Pyle in the 1991 movie Hi Honey; I’m Home. Dave Calabro further told WTHR that “He was just a fun guy to be around And we’ll cherish all those memories.” RIP Jim Nabors.