American actor, singer and comedian Jim Nabors – best known for his role of Deputy Sheriff Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show and the spinoff Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. – passed away on November 30, 2017. Nabors’ husband, Stan Cadwallader, confirmed that his longtime partner had died peacefully at home by his side. He was 87 years old.
“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.
James Thurston Nabors was born on June 12, 1930 in Sylacauga, Alabama. After singing for his high school and church, Nabors attended the University of Alabama and began acting in skits. Eventually he moved to Los Angeles and secured a job as a film cutter for NBC. At the same time, Nabors was acting and singing regularly at the cabaret theater The Horn. During one such performance, Nabors was discovered by Andy Griffith who thought Nabors would be perfect to play a new character on his CBS sitcom. Initially, Nabors was only signed for one episode as Pyle. However his role as the affable mechanic, known for exclaiming “Gollllll-ly,” proved so popular that he went on to appear in 23 episodes of the series.
After revealing his rich baritone voice on both The Andy Griffith Show and The Danny Kaye Show, Nabors went on to record more than two dozen albums. His 1980 album, The Heart-Touching Magic of Jim Nabors, went platinum. Between 1972 and 2014, Nabors also sang “Back Home Again in Indiana” for the Indianapolis 500 opening ceremonies. Nabors was given his own show, the spinoff Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., in which his character joined the United States Marine Corps. After five successful years on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Nabors decided to retire Pyle’s gear. Although he did return as Pyle one final time for the 1986 NBC reunion movie, Return to Mayberry. He later showcased his singing and comedic talents on The Jim Nabors Hour, as well as Take Her, She’s Mine, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Stroker Ace, and Cannonball Run II.
In January 2013, Nabors exchanged wedding vows with Cadwallader, his partner of almost four decades, who survives him.