Jim Nabors, who was best known as Gomer Pyle on the “The Andy Griffith Show” has passed away at age 87 in his home in Honolulu.
Nabors’ husband, Stan Cadwallader, confirmed his death. He has said that Nabors’ health has been declining for a year and his immune system has been repressed since his liver transplant in 1994.
At the time, Nabors’ had come in contact with hepatitis B in India several years earlier after he had bought a contaminated razor and cut himself with it.
Nabors’ career had started in the early 1960s with various different television roles. His breakthrough role was in 1962 when he landed the role of Gomer Pyle on the “The Andy Griffith Show”. Gomer Pyle was the supporting role on that show which had been running since 1960. Gomer Pyle was a dim-witted and sweet-natured auto mechanic. After 2 seasons on “The Andy Griffith Show”, Griffith pitched Nabors with a spin-off of the Pyle character and “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.,” was born. “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C,” was about Gomer Pyle joining the U.S. Marines and every week dealt with different situations with his Drill Sergeant, Vince Carter, played by Frank Sutton. The show ran for 5 seasons and was a huge success.
Gomer was an American hero of sorts; he was a gentle, grounded and slow gentlemen who was up against a crueler less accepting world. “Sheldon Leonard and his co-creators astutely chose a Southern California Marine base for their hero,” Gerard Jones wrote in his 1992 history of the American sitcom, “Honey, I’m Home!”
“In various episodes Gomer connected with the movie and TV industries, the music business, the surf scene, the Beverly Hills rich — all the easy symbols of modernity. Everywhere he went he left a trail of fond smiles and innocence — at least temporarily — restored. One thing Gomer never, ever connected with was the Vietnam War. He somehow existed in the peacetime military when there was no peace.”
Other than being comedic relief for millions of fans around the world on both shows, Nabors also had a fantastic singing voice. Nabors first showed off his singing ability on “The Danny Kaye Show” in 1964. Nabors had an operatic baritone voice, and could have been surprising to those who only knew him as Gomer.
After “Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C” ended, Nabors was given his own variety show which gave him more opportunity to sing. “The Jim Nabors Hour” lasted until 1971. Nabors was also a frequent guest on “The Carol Burnett Show”.
Nabors made dozens of albums of Christmas music, show tunes, gospel music, and so much more. He performed regularly in Las Vegas showrooms and in concert.
Nabors married Cadwallader after being together for 38 years in 2013 after same-sex marriage became legal in Washington State. At the time, Nabors was quoted that he never hid his homosexuality but it just wasn’t publicly acknowledged until his wedding.
Nabors was 82 and Cadwallader was in his 60s at the time of their marriage. The two met in 1975 when Cadwallader was a Honolulu firefighter. He later went to work for Nabors and then they began a romantic relationship.
The Gomer Pyle persona never seemed to leave Nabors, but he was perfectly okay with that. “I’ve never found doing Gomer to be that limiting to me,” Mr. Nabors said in 1990. “I’ve always enjoyed the character, and I see no reason to change it.”
Jim Nabors had a big impact on Pop Culture with his collection of albums and his hilarious television work. Nabors will definitely be missed.