Family & Fans Mourn Death, Celebrate Life of Beloved Entertainer Jim Nabors
Jim Nabors, the star who played the clumsy deputy sheriff Gomer Pyle on “The Andy Griffith Show” and eventually starred in his own spinoff, has died, reports Variety. He was 87.
Nabors’ health had been declining for the past year. His immune system also was suppressed after he underwent a liver transplant about 20 years ago.
Nabors, a native of Alabama, became an instant success when he joined “The Andy Griffith Show” in the spring of 1963. 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 his sergeant, the irascible 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.
Nabors was known as an ardent supporter of the U.S. Marine Corps. He is one of only a handful of people to earn the official status of “Honorary Marine.”
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.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
November 30th, 2017
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