Jim Nabors, who created one of TV’s beloved comedic characters, Gomer Pyle, died Thursday in Hawaii at the age of 87, reports Hawaii News Now.
The Alabama native had a long career that featured TV and movie roles, more than two dozen albums and numerous concert appearances, including long-running shows in Las Vegas and Hawaii, the latter of which became his home in the 1970s. He received a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991.
Nabors was best known for his role as the sweet, gentle Marine in the title role of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., a CBS comedy that was a top-five hit during its five-season run in the 1960s. Gomer’s dust-ups with his hard-nosed superior, Sgt. Carter (Frank Sutton), were the heart of the show and the character’s trademark exclamations — “Well, Golllll-ly!” and “Shazam!”— became familiar to millions.
The University of Alabama graduate moved to Los Angeles as a young man, taking a job as a film cutter at NBC. In his spare time, he acted and sang at a Santa Monica cabaret theater, The Horn. Andy Griffith saw him there and later offered him the the chance to audition for the role of Pyle, the innocent gas station attendant on The Andy Griffith Show. The character’s popularity led to the later spinoff.
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When Jim reaches the pearly gates, guess his first words to Saint Peter will be”Shazam, Shazam.” Then he’ll be off to mingle with prior arrivals like Frank “Sergeant Carter” Sutton. Despite being only seven years older than Jim, Sutton passed in the mid ’70s.
An ability to mimic Gomer Pyle, among other tv character voices, helped me integrate into a new school in 1965 and avoid some of the hazing accorded Grade 5 newcomers by bullies. It was only much later that I realized Jim Nabors was also a great singer.
Decades later, he showed courage regarding his private life. And his embrace of Hawaii was very appreciated by locals.
A life well lived.
My bucket list has a gaping hole in it. I only had one destination on my list , the INDY 500. Jim hasnt appeared live for the last few years but now a big part of INDY has gone. Golly he will be missed
Unfortunately, Nabors had to retire from performing after his last appearance at the 2014 Indy 500 due to declining health limiting his ability to travel.
Meanwhile, I’m watching a Gomer Pyle marathon being aired in Nabors’ memory on KVOS right now, including some of Gomer’s most memorable episodes. Rest assured he’ll live on in our memories thanks to the Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, USMC.