He went from playing a lovable gas-station attendant on “The Andy Griffith Show” to the star of his own show. Most people would call that a successful career. But did Jim Nabors rest on his laurels?
No, he recorded more than 40 albums and hosted a variety show. Then retired early to his macadamia nut plantation in Hawaii. How many lifetimes would it take?
The “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” star rose to fame when he made the most of what was supposed to be a single appearance on “The Andy Griffith Show” in 1962. His character was so endearing, his singing voice so beautiful that Nabors’ Gomer Pyle was made a series regular. Pyle eventually spun off into the title character of his own show.
In an interview on LancasterOnline.com from 2008, Nabors discussed his career. He talked about the early years but also touched on what he had been up to more recently. His retirement was in full swing, and he was loving life on his macadamia nut farm in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“Growing up in Alabama, I’ve always loved the process of farming. There’s just nothing in the world like that kind of lifestyle,” Nabors said. “It’s a little bit of paradise here. It’s sunny and beautiful, and it stays that way all the time. I have friends on the East Coast who ask me, ‘Don’t you miss the seasons?’ and the truth is, I don’t.”
Maybe Hawaii doesn’t have seasons, but it’s a tropical island. The pros and cons kind of speak for themselves. For Nabors, they did at least.
“I always was a summer kid, even growing up back in Alabama. And a life in Hawaii… is something I never get tired of,” he said in the 2008 interview.
“The Andy Griffith Show” Star Was An Indy 500 Staple
Jim Nabors saw his fair share of the continental United States anyway. He left Hawaii often enough to visit the Indy 500 almost every year. ESPN.com reports that the acting songbird macadamia nut farmer gave a rendition of “Back Home Again in Indiana” before the iconic NASCAR race 36 times, from 1972 to 2014.
His final performance at the race in 2014 shows him 84 years young with a voice powerful as ever:
Here he is singing on “The Andy Griffith Show” in 1964: