Jim Nabors: His Remarkable Life and Career Before, During, and After "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C."

Herbie J Pilato

Photo byeng.amomama.com

According to Grunge.com, "For anyone who was ever a fan of The Andy Griffith Show, the goofy but big-hearted Gomer Pyle was a familiar face. In fact, the character was so beloved, he went on to star in his own successful spinoff sitcom, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. We can all be thankful to actor Jim Nabors for his fantastic portrayal of the character. He was only supposed to be a one-episode guest on Andy Griffith, but Nabors knocked that performance out of the park, and no one could bear to see him go."

As documented on EarththeNecklace.com, Nabaors died at the age of 87 in his home in Hawaii on November 30, 2017. "His husband, Stan Cadwallader confirmed that his death was a result of his suppressed immune system, following a liver transplant in 1994. His friends and colleagues remember him as a simple, sweet, and talented man who made people smile even on the dreariest of days."

In 1976, Nabors moved from California to Hawaii. According to Yahoo! News, "He fell in love with the islands after vacationing there for the first time a decade earlier. Stan was working as a firefighter in Hawaii at the start of his private romance with the TV icon. Together they ran a macadamia nut farm in Maui and enjoyed their quiet life together out of the spotlight. The pair got married in 2013 in Washington, one month after same-sex marriage was legalized in the state." 

As chronicled on Biography.com, Nabors was "the youngest of three children, James Thurston Nabors was born on June 12, 1930, in Sylacauga, Alabama. His childhood was framed by a rural Alabama life, much of which he later drew from to create his signature character, Gomer Pyle.

"The Nabors family never had much money, and as a child young, Nabors suffered from severe asthma. Prevented from playing school sports on account of his respiratory issues, Nabors turned to performance arts. He joined the glee club in high school as well as the choir and took to the clarinet.

"At the University of Alabama, where he earned a degree in business administration, Nabors continued to perform. It was there that he first started acting, his debut performance coming via a Greek skit show as a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity."

Regardless of his affection for live performing, and his remarkable singing voice, a young Nabors did not envision succeeding in the future. As he once observed, "I was from a small town and, God knows, I was no leading man. You know how Hollywood was back then—everybody was a 'hero.' The only thing I could possibly think of was I could have been a character actor in a Western or something. I never had any thoughts of going into [show business]."

But Nabors carried on, and found tremendous success first on The Andy Griffith Show, and then on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., and countless other TV, film, and stage performances.

Respected by colleagues, friends, family, and millions of fans around the world, Jim Nabors found success beyond his dreams.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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