‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star Jim Nabors Spoke on the Surprising Way Andy Griffith Handled Fame

by Joe Rutland

Stars handle fame in their own way and Andy Griffith of The Andy Griffith Show certainly had his ideas about dealing with it. Yet you might be surprised that a star of his magnitude didn’t really like to publicize it. Griffith, who played Sheriff Andy Taylor for eight seasons on the CBS sitcom, had a hand in bringing Jim Nabors on board. Nabors, of course, played gas station attendant and future Marine Gomer Pyle on there. One time, Nabors talked about his costar and that fame.

“Andy was not a public person,” Nabors would tell Closer in an interview. “He loved doing the work, but he didn’t like getting out in public. He handled fame his own way.” Griffith died in 2012 at 86 years old. The famed actor and comedian would spend his later years in his beloved North Carolina with his wife Cindi.

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It’s hard to believe that Griffith, with a name known pretty much worldwide, didn’t like the public limelight. Still, he probably never tired of fans sending him well-wishes and good thoughts. Ah, the many episodes of The Andy Griffith Show that bring people so much joy and laughter. His start on the TV show actually would come from an appearance on The Danny Thomas Show. Thomas, along with Sheldon Leonard, had a hand in Griffith’s show landing on CBS.

Besides Nabors and Griffith, others in the classic TV show’s cast included Don Knotts, Ron Howard, Frances Bavier, and George Lindsey. Goober, Lindsey’s character, and Gomer both held down the fort at the local gas station. As we mentioned, Nabors would go on to have a very successful spinoff titled Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Back in 1962, Nabors would make his first appearance on The Andy Griffith Show.

One time, Howard even talked about how much Nabors was not like his character. “I wasn’t as close with Jim Nabors, though he was an extremely nice man,” Howard said in his memoir The Boys he wrote with his brother, Clint Howard. “It took me until the ’80s, when we did the Return to Mayberry reunion film, for me to discover that Jim was not just this friendly ‘Gollee!’ goofball but a worldly, intelligent guy with whom I would enjoy having conversations.”

Nabors also had an incredible singing voice. He had a chance on his TV show to showcase it where he sang The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha. The actor-comedian also was a frequent guest star on The Carol Burnett Show. Burnett herself would make two appearances on his sitcom during its run. As Howard mentioned, Nabors played Gomer one last time in the TV movie Return to Mayberry.