Andy Griffith had an eye for talent. And he had a part especially written for a young actor Jim Nabors to be part of his show.
Griffith saw Nabors performing in a stage show in Los Angeles. This was back in the early 1960s. Nabors was trying to break into show business. He had several characters in his act. One of them was somewhat of a hick. Nabors then would sing. He had an incredible voice.
Andy Griffith used to do something similar. So when he saw Jim Nabors, he instantly connected and had writers on the show create Gomer Pyle, the lovably naive local mechanic.
Shazam, you remember Gomer, don’t you? Well, Gaaawlleey you should. If not, shame, shame, shame because he shouldn’t be a surprise, surprise, surprise.
Now, enjoy this song sung by Gomer
Jim Nabors, As Gomer, Got His Own Show
Jim Nabors as Gomer appeared on the Andy Griffith show for 23 episodes. The character joined the show in 1962 when the actor who played Floyd the barber left for medical reasons. Gomer and his cousin, Goober, ran the town gas station.
Gomer was such a popular character that Andy Griffith suggested a spinoff. So in 1964. Jim Nabors starred in Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. That show was about Gomer becoming a Marine. It ran through 1969.
Jim Nabors died in 2017. He was 87. But in interviews before his death, he often talked about Gomer.
“I really love Gomer,” Jim told Allan Newsome during an interview for his Two Chairs, No Waiting Andy Griffith Show podcast. “I had the good fortune, if you’re gonna play a character, to play as nice a guy as he was.
“People always ask me if I would like to be identified differently and I tell them, ‘Absolutely not!’ I really enjoyed it and still do. I haven’t necessarily made my career totally on Gomer, because I’ve used so much music in my career, but I’ve been very blessed in that I’ve had a diverse career.
“It’s all been really wonderful, because in show business you’re always kind of looking for your next job. It’s a very insecure business. Fortunately, I was never without a job in 40 years.”
What Did Nabors Do, Post Gomer?
Jim Nabors had an incredible baritone singing voice. For decades, he was a special guest at the Indianapolis 500. He’d sing “Back Home Again in Indiana,” the unofficial state anthem, before the start of the race.
In the 1980s, Nabors was in three straight films starring his friend, Burt Reynolds. That included the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
In 1994, Jim Nabors suffered from liver failure after contracting Hepatitis B. His friend, Carol Burnet, connected him with a transplant hospital in Los Angeles.
Nabors married his long-time partner, Stan Cadwallader, in 2013. They’d been together for 38 years.
When Jim Nabors died in Hawaii in 2017, the Marines mourned his passing. The official statement read: “Semper Fi, Gomer Pyle. Rest in peace Jim Nabors, one of the few to ever be named an Honorary Marine.”