‘Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.’ Star Jim Nabors Described the Letter from Ron Howard that Left Him ‘Dumbfounded’

by Keeli Parkey

Jim Nabors is widely known for playing the character, Gomer Pyle. The actor first played the role on the wildly popular “The Andy Griffith Show.” Thanks to the popularity of the character, he then got his own show. Unsurprisingly, it was known as “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”

According to IMDb.com, Nabors played Gomer Pyle on “The Andy Griffith Show” from 1962 until 1964. The show, “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” aired from 1964 until 1969.

While performing as Gomer Pyle on “The Andy Griffith Show,” Jim Nabors worked with Ron Howard. Howard, of course, played Opie Taylor, the son of Sheriff Andy Taylor. While working together, and in the years, that followed, Nabors and Howard became friends.

They were so close in fact that when Ron Howard turned 60 years old, he reached out to Nabors. According to a IndianapolisMonthly.com, Nabors talked about their relationship during a 2014 interview.

Ron Howard Sent ‘Sweetest Note’ to Jim Nabors

During a conversation with the actor, the reporter asked Jim Nabors if he and Howard remained in contact. In short, Nabors said yes. But, there was more to the story. In fact, Nabors said Howard had just reached out to him via letter. And, what Howard said was very meaningful, according to the article.

Here’s what Jim Nabors had to say about the letter he received from Ron Howard: “I got a letter from him the other day, and it was the sweetest note. A very personal thing, and I was dumbfounded to get it. He was talking about how he just turned 60. See, I’ve known Ron since he was 6 years old. He wrote this letter, and he said that he was going to have a party for his 60th birthday. But it coincided with the Academy Awards, and too many of his friends wouldn’t be able to come. He said if he ever did decide to have the party, I would certainly be on the top of the list.”

Wonder who else Ron Howard wanted at his 60th birthday party? If that party every happened it would have been a joy to attend – without a doubt.

Gomer Pyle Inspired One of the Darkest Moments in Classic Film ‘Full Metal Jacket’

The character of Gomer Pyle seems very far removed from the serious portrayal of war found in the Stanley Kubrick film “Full Metal Jacket.” However, Nabors’ Gomer Pyle character was reportedly an inspiration to the dramatic film.

In “Full Metal Jacket” Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, as played by former drill sergeant R. Lee Ermey, was more than hard on the soldiers under his command. He was abusive and even gave one soldier the nickname “Gomer Pyle.”

This soldier’s name was Leonard Lawrence and he was from Alabama, just like Gomer Pyle actor Jim Nabors. (Spoilers ahead for “Full Metal Jacket”) Because of his treatment at the hands of his drill sergeant, Lawrence eventually snaps. Lawrence kills Gunnery Sergeant Hartman before killing himself.

That’s definitely very different than the light-hearted portrayal of the United States military as seen on “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”