sunny.png
Wednesday June 26th, 2019 12:10PM

Jim Nabors, TV's homespun Gomer Pyle and singer, dies at 87

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

HONOLULU (AP) — Jim Nabors, the Alabama-born comic actor who starred as TV's dim but good-hearted Southern rube Gomer Pyle and constantly surprised audiences with his twang-free operatic singing voice, died Thursday. He was 87.

Nabors, who underwent a liver transplant in 1994 after contracting hepatitis B, died peacefully at his home in Hawaii after his health had declined for the past year, said his husband, Stan Cadwallader, who was by his side.

"Everybody knows he was a wonderful man. And that's all we can say about him. He's going to be dearly missed," Cadwallader said.

The couple married in early 2013 in Washington state, where gay marriage had recently been made legal. Nabors' friends had known for years that he was gay, but he had never said anything to the media.

"It's pretty obvious that we had no rights as a couple, yet when you've been together 38 years, I think something's got to happen there, you've got to solidify something," Nabors told Hawaii News Now at the time. "And at my age, it's probably the best thing to do."

Nabors became an instant success when he joined "The Andy Griffith Show" in the early 1960s. The character of Gomer Pyle, the unworldly, lovable gas pumper who would exclaim "Gollllll-ly!" proved so popular that in 1964 CBS starred him in "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C."

In the spinoff, which lasted five seasons, Gomer left his hometown of Mayberry to become a Marine recruit. His innocence confounded irascible Sgt. Vince Carter, played by Frank Sutton.

Audiences saw another side of Nabors in appearances in TV variety programs — his booming baritone. The contrast between his homespun humor ("The tornado was so bad a hen laid the same egg twice") and his full-throated operatic arias was stunning.

For two seasons beginning in 1969, CBS presented "The Jim Nabors Hour," on which he joshed with guest stars, did sketches with Sutton and fellow "Gomer" veteran Ronnie Schell, and sang country and opera.

Offstage, Nabors retained some of the awed innocence of Gomer. At the height of his fame in 1969, he admitted, "For the first four years of the series, I didn't trust my success. Every weekend and on every vacation, I would take off to play nightclubs and concerts, figuring the whole thing would blow over some day.

"You know somethin'? I still find it difficult to believe this kind of acceptance. I still don't trust it."

After the end of his variety show, Nabors continued earning high salaries in Las Vegas showrooms and in concert theaters across the country. He recorded more than two dozen albums and sang with the Dallas and St. Louis symphony orchestras.

During the 1970s he moved to Hawaii, buying a 500-acre macadamia ranch. He still did occasional TV work, and in the late 1970s, he appeared 10 months annually at Hilton hotels in Hawaii. The pace gave him an ulcer.

"I was completely burned out," he later recalled. "I'd had it with the bright lights."

In the early 1980s, his longtime friendship with Burt Reynolds led to roles in "Stroker Ace," ''Cannonball II" and "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."

He returned to concert and nightclub performances in 1985, though at a less intensive pace.

"It was kind of like 'The Twilight Zone' for me, all of us standing there in costumes, the girls in spangles, no tops," he told The Associated Press during his comeback stint at the Las Vegas Hilton. "I looked around and told the girls, 'I'm used to being on the back of a tractor, then to be dropped into the midst of this! It's kind of weird.'"

Among his regular gigs was singing "Back Home Again in Indiana" at the Indianapolis 500 each year, which he first did in 1972. The first time, he wrote the lyrics on his hand so he wouldn't forget.

"I've never thought of (the audience reaction) as relating to me," Nabors said. "It's always relating to the song and to the race. It is applauding for the tradition of the race and the excitement."

Illness forced him to cancel his appearance in 2007, the first one he had missed in more than 20 years. He was back performing at Indy in 2008, saying, "It's always the main part of my year. It just thrills you to your bones."

Nabors was an authentic small-town Southern boy, born James Thurston Nabors in Sylacauga, Alabama, in 1930, son of a police officer. Boyhood attacks of asthma required long periods of rest, during which he learned to entertain his playmates with vocal tricks.

After graduating from the University of Alabama, he worked in New York City for a time, and later, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he was an assistant film editor and occasional singer at a TV station.

Nabors moved on to Hollywood with hopes of using his voice. While cutting film at NBC in the daytime, he sang at night at a Santa Monica club.

"I was up there on the stage the night that Andy Griffith came in," Nabors recalled in 1965. "He said to me afterward, 'You know somethin,' boy? You're good. I'm going to bring my manager around to see you.'"

In 1991, Nabors got a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame in ceremonies attended by pals Carol Burnett, Loni Anderson, Phyllis Diller and Florence Henderson. His reaction? "Gollll-ly!"

___

The late Associated Press Entertainment Writer Bob Thomas wrote biographical material for this story.

___

A previous version of this story incorrectly identified actor Frank Sutton as a character in "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." Sutton played Sgt. Vince Carter.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Local/State News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, AP Entertainment, AP Online TV News, AP Online Recordings News, APOnline Celebrity News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Nancy Pelosi calls on Conyers to resign amid sex allegations
The top Democrat in the House is calling on Michigan Rep. John Conyers to resign in the face of multiple accusations of sexual misconduct
1:37PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Jim Nabors, TV's homespun Gomer Pyle and singer, dies at 87
Jim Nabors, who played TV's Gomer Pyle and wowed audiences with his operatic voice, has died at age 87
1:34PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Jim Nabors, Gomer Pyle on 'Andy Griffith Show,' dies at 87
Jim Nabors, who played Gomer Pyle on TV's "The Andy Griffith Show," has died at 87
1:26PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Ex-Conyers staffer says she'd testify if asked
A woman who alleges she was sexually harassed by Detroit Congressman John Conyers says she'd testify before Congress
1:01PM ( 41 minutes ago )
Russell Simmons steps down from companies amid allegation
Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons says he is stepping away from his companies following another allegation of sexual misconduct
12:49PM ( 53 minutes ago )
Texas Rep. Barton, embarrassed by sex scandal, to retire
Texas Rep. Joe Barton, embarrassed by revelations of sexually-themed messages with a supporter, has announced he will not seek another term
12:48PM ( 53 minutes ago )
AP National News
White House talking about replacing Tillerson with Pompeo
The White House is discussing a plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo
11:40AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Pelosi says Conyers should resign from Congress
Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi says Michigan Rep. John Conyers, facing sexual misconduct allegations, should resign
11:29AM ( 2 hours ago )
US Rep. Conyers in hospital as ex-aide describes harassment
U.S. Rep. John Conyers in Detroit hospital while former aide publicly accuses him of sexual harassment
11:15AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Venezuela arrests 2 top oil officials in corruption probe
Venezuelan authorities say they've arrested two top former officials in a widening corruption probe into the state-run oil industry
12:18PM ( 1 hour ago )
Misdemeanor assault charge dismissed against Johnny Manziel
Prosecutors in Dallas have dismissed a 2016 misdemeanor domestic assault charge against Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel
11:58AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Geraldo Rivera apologizes for tweets about abuse
Variety journalists say more sexual misconduct allegations against Lauer being vetted
10:50AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Lauer becomes biggest name toppled by misconduct allegations
Matt Lauer's firing as host of NBC's 'Today' makes him the biggest media figure brought down by sexual misconduct allegations since Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes lost their lofty positions at Fox News Channel
6:07AM ( 7 hours ago )
Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting attracts thousands
Thousands jammed into midtown Manhattan to watch the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center
5:47AM ( 7 hours ago )
Matt Lauer is fired at NBC, accused of crude misconduct
Matt Lauer's firing for what NBC says was "inappropriate sexual behavior" with a colleague has stunned viewers and rocked the network
7:37PM ( 18 hours ago )
AP Online TV News
10 Things to Know for Today
Among 10 Things to Know: What North Korean photos say about new ballistic missile; NBC's Matt Lauer becomes biggest name toppled by misconduct allegations; AP source: Jared Kushner questioned by Mueller's team about Michael Flynn
7:04AM ( 6 hours ago )
African music star in exile awaits real change for Zimbabwe
African music star in exile awaits real change for Zimbabwe, says he sees no reason for celebration
3:45AM ( 9 hours ago )
Personal belongings of Boston singer Brad Delp for auction
Fans of rock band Boston can get more than a feeling at an upcoming auction _ they can get their hands on the personal belongings of late lead singer Brad Delp; piano, electric guitar, platform shoes among items available
9:20PM ( 16 hours ago )
AP Online Recordings News
Steinem tries her hand at stand-up at Ms. foundation benefit
Feminist leader Gloria Steinem has tried her hand at stand-up comedy, taking the mic at a Manhattan club in the spirit of 'laughing our way to the revolution'
1:10AM ( 12 hours ago )
The Latest: Keillor says his firing is 'bewildering'
Garrison Keillor says it's "all kind of bewildering" that he was fired from Minnesota Public Radio following an allegation of improper behavior
11:51PM ( 13 hours ago )
Players Coalition members at odds
49ers safety Eric Reid says he left The Players Coalition because founder Malcolm Jenkins excluded Colin Kaepernick from meetings and asked players if they would stop protesting the anthem if the NFL made a charitable donation to causes they support
8:33PM ( 17 hours ago )
APOnline Celebrity News
Nancy Pelosi calls on Conyers to resign amid sex allegations
The top Democrat in the House is calling on Michigan Rep. John Conyers to resign in the face of multiple accusations of sexual misconduct
1:37PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Jim Nabors, Gomer Pyle on 'Andy Griffith Show,' dies at 87
Jim Nabors, who played Gomer Pyle on TV's "The Andy Griffith Show," has died at 87
1:26PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Moscow mulls next move in escalating media spat with US
The Kremlin is expressing dismay over the withdrawal of a Russian state-funded TV station's credentials in the U.S. and warned of a quick retaliation
1:24PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Venezuela arrests top oil officials in corruption probe
Venezuelan authorities say they've arrested two top former officials in a widening corruption probe into the state-run oil industry
1:23PM ( 19 minutes ago )
OPEC, allies extend production cut through 2018
The OPEC cartel and a group of non-OPEC partners have agreed to extend crude output cuts until the end of next year in efforts to keep supplies tight and bolster prices
1:16PM ( 26 minutes ago )