Jim Nabors

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Jim Nabors
Nabors smiling and wearing a baseball cap
Nabors in April 2010
Born James Thurston Nabors
(1930-06-12) June 12, 1930 (age 84)
Sylacauga, Alabama, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Alabama
Occupation Actor, singer
Years active 1954–present
Known for Portraying Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
Spouse(s) Stan Cadwallader (m. 2013)
Website
www.jimnabors.com

James Thurston "Jim" Nabors (born June 12, 1930)[1] is an American actor and singer. Born and raised in Sylacauga, Alabama, Nabors moved to southern California because of his asthma. While working at a Santa Monica nightclub, The Horn, he was discovered by Andy Griffith and later joined The Andy Griffith Show, playing Gomer Pyle.[2] The character proved popular, and Nabors was given his own spin-off show, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C..

Though best known for his portrayal of Gomer Pyle, Nabors became a popular guest on variety shows in the 1960s and 1970s (including two specials of his own in 1969 and 1974), which showcased his rich baritone voice. He subsequently recorded numerous albums and singles, most of them containing romantic ballads.

Nabors is also well known for singing "Back Home Again in Indiana," prior to the start of the Indianapolis 500, held annually over the Memorial Day Weekend. Except for a few absences due to health or other conflicts, Nabors sang the unofficial Indiana anthem every year from 1972 until his final time in 2014.

Early life and career[edit]

Nabors was born to Mavis and Fred Nabors in Sylacauga, Alabama, where he sang for his high school and church. He attended the University of Alabama, where he began acting in skits. While at Alabama he became a member of Delta Tau Delta International Fraternity.[3] After graduating, he moved to New York, where he worked as a typist for the United Nations;[4][5] after a year, he moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he got his first job in the television industry as a film cutter. Because of his asthma, Nabors moved to Los Angeles and worked as a film cutter for NBC. He also worked at a Santa Monica tavern, The Horn, singing and acting in cabaret theater.[6][7] His act featured him as a character similar to the Gomer Pyle character he would later portray: he would sing in a baritone and sometimes speak in his higher-pitched comedic voice.[8] At the club, comedian Bill Dana saw Nabors' act and invited him to appear on The Steve Allen Show. Nabors signed on to the show, but it was soon canceled.[9]

Breakthrough and popularity[edit]

It was at The Horn where Nabors was discovered by Andy Griffith and was hired to play a one-shot role of Gomer Pyle, an "addlebrained" gas station attendant, on The Andy Griffith Show.[10] Nabors's character (based on his act at The Horn) became so popular that he was made a regular on the show and was later given his own show, the spin-off Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., in which his character joined the United States Marine Corps. The show, which placed Nabors' bungling, naive character opposite Sergeant Vince Carter (Frank Sutton), also proved popular. Despite its run during the Vietnam War, a time of "profound disillusionment with war and the military," Gomer Pyle remained popular because it avoided war-related themes and instead focused on the show's rural roots and the relationship between Pyle and Sgt. Carter.[11][12][13] Nabors resigned from Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. after five seasons—prompting producers Aaron Ruben and Sheldon Leonard to ask CBS to cancel it—because he desired to move to something else, "reach for another rung on the ladder, either up or down."[14]

Nabors revealed his rich baritone voice first on the February 24, 1964 episode of The Andy Griffith Show and then, on April 8, 1964 on The Danny Kaye Show and subsequently capitalized on it with numerous successful recordings and live performances.[15][16] Most of the songs were romantic ballads, though he sang pop, gospel, and country songs as well.[17][18][19][20] He also hosted a variety show, The Jim Nabors Hour (1969–1971), which also featured his Gomer Pyle co-stars Ronnie Schell and Frank Sutton.[21] Despite a poor critical reception, the show proved popular.[22][23] After the cancellation of The Jim Nabors Hour, Nabors embarked on a nationwide roadshow.[24]

Later career[edit]

Typecast from his role as Gomer Pyle, Nabors found his subsequent roles mostly comedic.[17] In the 1970s, he appeared in the children's television programs Krofft Supershow and Buford and the Galloping Ghost. He also appeared in every season premiere of The Carol Burnett Show because Burnett considered him a "good-luck charm".[25] However, on a 1973 episode of The Rookies, he played his first "serious" role, a man called on to be an assassin after the death of his sister.[26][27] Also in 1973, Nabors sang the Star Spangled Banner before Game One of the Major League Baseball World Series.[28] From 1977 to 1978, Nabors hosted another variety show, The Jim Nabors Show. Though the show only lasted one season, Nabors was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Host or Hostess in a Talk, Service or Variety Series.[29] Nabors eventually grew tired of the "prime-time TV grind" and abandoned television jobs for nightclub and concert engagements and a role in a touring production of Man of La Mancha.[20] However, Sid and Marty Krofft persuaded Nabors to star in the Saturday-morning children's television show The Lost Saucer, about two bumbling androids, Fi (Ruth Buzzi) and Fum (Nabors), who travel through time with two children. Nabors, whose character was described as a "Gomer Pyle in outer space," sang in a few of the episodes.[30] Jim Nabors guest starred on The Muppet show during season 1 of The Muppet show in 1976.

In the 1980s, Nabors appeared in three feature-length films starring his friend Burt Reynolds, at the latter's request. In The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), about a sheriff (Reynolds) who falls in love with a brothel madam (Dolly Parton), Nabors played Deputy Fred, a character similar to Gomer Pyle.[31][32] Though the film was given mostly unfavorable reviews, Nabors garnered some positive comments for his performance.[33] In 1983, he was cast as an auto mechanic in Stroker Ace, starring Burt Reynods as a race car driver who fights a fried-chicken chain entrepreneur. This show was panned, and Nabors earned a Golden Raspberry Award for his performance.[34] In Reynolds' star-studded Cannonball Run II (1984), about a cross-country car chase, Nabors made a cameo appearance alongside such celebrities as Dom DeLuise, Jackie Chan, Shirley MacLaine, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Andy Griffith Show co-stars Don Knotts and George Lindsey.[35] Like Reynolds' previous two films, Cannonball received mostly negative reviews.[36] In 1986, Nabors returned to television, reprising his role as Gomer Pyle in the television movie Return to Mayberry, in which the cast of The Andy Griffith Show reunited.[37] Also in 1986, Nabors starred in the half-hour comedy pilot "Sylvan in Paradise" as the title character, Sylvan Sprayberry, an accident-prone bell captain at a Hawaiian hotel. The series was not picked up by NBC.[38]

After moving to Hawaii from Bel Air, California with his partner Stan Cadwallader, in 1976, he launched a show, "The Jim Nabors Polynesian Extravaganza" at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which ran for two years. Nabors eventually experienced "bright light burnout" and disappeared from the stage, save for an occasional performance. In 1984, after a five-year hiatus, Nabors returned to performing, starring in the "Moulin Rouge" show at the Las Vegas Hilton and other shows in Reno and Las Vegas.[39] He made his theatrical debut as Harold Hill in The Music Man with Florence Henderson at the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre.[40]

Nabors at the Indianapolis 500. For over 30 years, Nabors sang "Back Home Again in Indiana" before the start of the race.

In 1994, Nabors suffered from a near-fatal case of hepatitis B. According to Nabors, he contracted the disease while traveling in India; he shaved with a straight razor and "whacked [his] face all up."[41] The disease caused liver failure, and Nabors was given a dim prognosis; however, his friend Carol Burnett made an arrangement with the transplant division of UCLA and secured Nabors a transplant.[42] Nabors later became involved with the American Liver Foundation as a result of his experience.[43] Shortly after recovering from his liver transplant, Nabors embarked on another tour, with stops in Phoenix, St. Louis, and Washington.[44] From 1997 to 2006, Nabors starred in the Burton White-produced A Merry Christmas with Friends and Nabors, a live performance at the Hawaii Theatre Center in Honolulu. The production, featuring local and national artists, ran for forty performances and was directed by Tom Hansen until Hansen's death in 2006. The final performance run was directed by John Rampage and dedicated to Hansen.[45] For more than 30 years, Nabors has sung "Back Home Again in Indiana" with the Purdue All-American Marching Band before each Indianapolis 500.[46][47] In March 2014, Nabors announced that the 2014 Indianapolis 500 would be his final appearance singing "Back Home Again in Indiana" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, explaining that his health was limiting his ability to travel.[48]

Personal life[edit]

Nabors began vacationing in Hawaii in the 1960s, and in 1976, moved from Bel Air, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii. For 25 years, he owned a macadamia plantation on Maui before selling it to the National Tropical Botanical Garden, a conservationist organization, though he still retains farming rights to the land and owns a second home on the property.[49]

On January 29, 2013, Hawaii News Now reported that Nabors had married his partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader, at Seattle, Washington's Fairmont Olympic Hotel on January 15, 2013 a month after same-sex marriage became legal in Washington.[50][51][52]

A longstanding rumor maintains that Nabors married Rock Hudson in the early 1970s, shortly before Nabors began his relationship with Cadwallader. At least publicly, the two were never more than friends. According to Hudson, the story originated with a group of "middle-aged homosexuals who live in Huntington Beach" who sent out joke invitations for their annual get-together. One year, the group invited its members to witness "the marriage of Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors," at which Hudson would take the surname of Nabors' most famous character, Gomer Pyle, becoming "Rock Pyle." Those who failed to get the joke spread the rumor.[53]

Accolades and honors[edit]

Nabors' successes have earned him accolades. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991.[54] "Gomer Pyle" received an honorary promotion to Lance Corporal from the Commandant of the Marine Corps James L. Jones in 2001, and on September 25, 2007, he was promoted from Lance Corporal to Corporal by Lt. General John F. Goodman.[55][56] The Hawaii Pacific University awarded Nabors the Fellow of the Pacific Award for his "outstanding leadership, service, and dedication to the community."[46] In 2006, he was inducted into the Alabama Stage and Screen Hall of Fame.[57] He received honors from the University of Alabama on September 2, 2006, before a football game against the University of Hawaii. Nabors, along with U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, was honored on January 19, 2007, at "A Night of American Heroes," a yearly dinner held in benefit of the Battleship Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor.[58] U.S. Highway 280 in Talladega County, Alabama was named "Jim Nabors Highway" in honor of the Sylacauga native.[46] Jim Nabors was made an Honorary Sergeant during the 238th Marine Corps birthday ball celebration by Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, .[59]

Selected discography[edit]

Nabors has recorded 28 albums and numerous singles; the albums listed have either been certified gold or platinum by the RIAA.

  • 1966: Jim Nabors Sings Love Me With All Your Heart (Gold)
  • 1968: Jim Nabors Sings The Lord's Prayer (Gold)
  • 1980: The Heart Touching Magic Of Jim Nabors (Platinum)
  • 1990: Jim Nabors Christmas Album (Gold)

Although Nabors has had little US chart singles success, his singles "Love Me With All Your Heart" reached #111 in the Cashbox survey (1966), and "The Impossible Dream" hit the top 20 in Australia (1968), according to the Kent Music Report.

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1963 Take Her, She's Mine Clancy, Sleeping Pill Coffee Shop Manager Uncredited
1982 The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Deputy Fred
1983 Stroker Ace Lugs Harvey Won: Golden Raspberry Award[34]
1984 Cannonball Run II Pvt. Homer Lyle
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1961 The Steve Allen Show Himself
1963 I'm Dickens, He's Fenster Episode: "The Carpenters Four"
1963 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Claude 2 episodes
1963 The Danny Kaye Show Himself 2 episodes
1962–1964 The Andy Griffith Show Gomer Pyle 23 episodes
1964–1969 Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Gomer Pyle 150 episodes
1966 The Lucy Show Pvt. Gomer Pyle Episode: "Lucy Gets Caught Up in the Draft"
1967 The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour Himself Episode #1.1
1968 The Dean Martin Show Himself Episode: "1968 Christmas Show"
1969 The Don Rickles Show Himself Episode #1.16
1969 The Leslie Uggams Show Himself Episode #1.5
1969–1971 The Jim Nabors Hour Host/Various character 51 episodes
1967–1975 The Carol Burnett Show Himself 9 episodes
1971 The Johnny Cash Show Himself Episode #2.19
1972–1973 The Flip Wilson Show Himself 2 episodes
1973 The Rookies Corley Curlew Episode: "Down Home Boy"
1973–1974 The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour Himself/Various characters 4 episodes
1976 The Lost Saucer Fum 16 episodes
1976 The Muppet Show Himself/Billy Lee Boomer/Bakery Guard Episode #1.6
1976–1977 The Sonny & Cher Show Himself/Various characters 6 episodes
1977–1981 The Love Boat Wayne Bouton, the valet 3 episodes
1978 The Jim Nabors Show Host Nominated for a Daytime Emmy (for Outstanding Host or Hostess in a Talk, Service or Variety Series)[29]
1981 Aloha Paradise Episode: "Alex and Annie/Blue Honeymoon/Another Thing"
1983 Knight Rider Passerby Episode: "Soul Survivor"
1986 Return to Mayberry Gomer Pyle Television movie
1986 Sylvan in Paradise Sylvan Sprayberry Television movie
1991 Hi Honey, I'm Home! Gomer Pyle Episode: "Hi Mom, I'm Not Home"
1991 The Carol Burnett Show Skit characters Unknown episodes
1997 Recess Additional voices Unknown episodes

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Paul T. Hellmann (2005). Historical gazetteer of the United States. Taylor & Francis. pp. 20–. ISBN 978-0-415-93948-5. Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  2. ^ PBS, Pioneers of Television (2008) "PBS Pioneers of Television, Season One, Sitcoms". PBS. Retrieved December 26, 2010. 
  3. ^ The Rainbow, vol. 131, no. 13, p. 52
  4. ^ "Success Is a Warm Puppy". Time (Time Inc.). November 10, 1967. p. 1. Retrieved November 21, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Nabors to call it quits on American Music Theatre stage". LancasterOnline. Archived from the original on November 9, 2008. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  6. ^ Brower, p. 140
  7. ^ "Jim Nabors History". JimNabors.com (official site). Retrieved November 10, 2008. 
  8. ^ King, Susan (June 2, 2002). "Just Like Gomer, Jim Nabors Remains the Optimist". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). pp. F–15. Retrieved December 6, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Jim Nabors Biography". Hollywood.com. Hollywood.com, LLC. Archived from the original on January 26, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  10. ^ Kelly, p.50
  11. ^ Olson, p.196
  12. ^ "Jim Nabors: Biography". Country Music Television. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  13. ^ "Jim Nabors Biography". Allmovie. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  14. ^ Jim Nabors finished with Gomer. News.google.com (January 31, 1969). Retrieved on 2011-06-30.
  15. ^ Scott, Vernon (June 10, 1970). "Jim Nabors Follows His Instincts to Fame". The Bryan Times. p. 16. Retrieved November 22, 2008. 
  16. ^ Wright, Fred (January 22, 1973). "Meet Jim (Gomer) Nabors". St. Petersburg Independent (Times Publishing Company). p. 12-A. Retrieved November 21, 2008. 
  17. ^ a b Kelly, p.135
  18. ^ Harold, Chuck (June 17, 1971). "Jim Nabors Soars on Wings". St. Petersburg Independent (Times Publishing Company). p. 12-A. Retrieved November 21, 2008. 
  19. ^ Ober, Chick (June 24, 1967). "Nabors' Range: Pop to Opera". St. Petersburg Times (Times Publishing Company). p. 23. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  20. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "Jim Nabors". Allmusic. Retrieved November 12, 2008. Jim Neighbor guest starred on The Muppet show during it's first season back in 1976.
  21. ^ "Wednesday, September 24". Time (Time Inc.). September 26, 1969. Retrieved November 22, 2008. 
  22. ^ Scott, Vernon (October 9, 1969). "Television in Review". The Bryan Times (Deseret News Publishing Company). p. B7. Retrieved January 27, 2009. 
  23. ^ Du Brow, Rick (May 12, 1971). "Nabors to Plan Tour Show". Deseret News. Retrieved January 27, 2009. 
  24. ^ "Jim Nabors Has No Complaints". Rome News-Tribune (News Publishing Company). United Press International. May 30, 1971. p. 5E. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  25. ^ Laurent, Lawrence (August 10, 1975). "Hanging on to Her Femininity Is Carol Burnett's Secret". St. Petersburg Independent (Times Publishing Company). Washington Post Service. p. 12-A. Retrieved November 21, 2008. 
  26. ^ "Jim Nabors Biography". Yahoo!. Retrieved December 27, 2008. 
  27. ^ "Complete Television Programs for Monday". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Block Communications). November 19, 1973. p. 31. Retrieved November 22, 2008. 
  28. ^ "NBC 1973 World Series Theme Introduction". Retrieved April 19, 2012. 
  29. ^ a b "Daytime Emmy Awards: 1978". IMDB. Retrieved December 30, 2008. 
  30. ^ Erickson, p.141
  31. ^ Eder, Shirley (July 16, 1982). "Burt and Dolly Are Wonderful Together". St. Petersburg Times (Times Publishing Company). p. 4-A. Retrieved December 29, 2008. 
  32. ^ Anderson, George (July 26, 1982). "'Whorehouse' Loses in Translation". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Block Communications). pp. B2. Retrieved November 22, 2008. 
  33. ^ Hicks, Christopher (July 30–31, 1982). "Worst Little Musical in Texas". Deseret News. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  34. ^ a b Wilson, John (August 23, 2000). "1983 Raspberry Awards". Razzies.com. Golden Raspberry Awards. Retrieved November 22, 2008. 
  35. ^ "'Cannonball' Sequel Is Simply Loaded With Stars". Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia Media Holdings). June 30, 1984. Retrieved December 29, 2008.  (Paid access required to view article.)
  36. ^ "Cannonball Run 2". Rotten Tomatoes. News Corp. Retrieved December 27, 2008. 
  37. ^ Vick, Karl (April 11, 1986). "Goll-ly, Andy's Back!". St. Petersburg Times (Times Publishing Company). pp. 2D. Retrieved November 22, 2008. 
  38. ^ Hale, Mike. "Sylvan in Paradise". The New York Times (New York Times Company). Retrieved December 27, 2008. 
  39. ^ Macy, Robert (August 1, 1984). "Nabors Stages Reluctant Comeback". Deseret News (Deseret News Publishing Company). p. 8 EV. Retrieved January 27, 2009. 
  40. ^ "Jim Nabors Brings Flavor of Mayberry to Riverside". Mojave Daily Miner. October 16–22, 1990. Retrieved December 29, 2008. 
  41. ^ "Gomer Groaning". The Victoria Advocate (Victoria Advocate Publishing Co.). January 6, 1994. p. 5B. Retrieved January 27, 2009. 
  42. ^ "Jim Nabors Lives Happily in Hawaii". American Profile. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  43. ^ "Interview with Jim Nabors". KHNL. Raycom Media. March 20, 2007. Retrieved December 29, 2008. 
  44. ^ Levenbrown, Cheryl (February 29, 1995). "People in the News". Accessmylibrary.com. Knight Ridder. Retrieved January 27, 2009. (subscription required (help)).  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  45. ^ "2003 Tour Schedule". JimNabors.com (official site). Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  46. ^ a b c "Hawaii Pacific University to honor Jim Nabors". The Honolulu Advertiser. Gannett Company. January 5, 2008. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  47. ^ "'Back Home Again,' Jim Nabors intertwined in Indy 500 tradition". ESPN. Associated Press. Retrieved November 22, 2008. 
  48. ^ Kim, Jaimie (March 21, 2014). "Lifestyle // Old Friends: Jim Nabors". Honolulu, HI: Oahu Publications. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  49. ^ Tuohy, Matt (July 16, 2008). "Jim Nabors". Midweek. Hawaii: MidWeek Printing, Inc. (an Oahu Publications Company). Retrieved December 7, 2008. 
  50. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Actor Jim Nabors marries his longtime male partner – Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL". Hawaii News Now. Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  51. ^ "‘Gomer Pyle, USMC’ star Jim Nabors marries male partner in Seattle | The Today File | Seattle Times". Blogs.seattletimes.com. January 29, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  52. ^ "Actor Jim Nabors marries male partner in Seattle – AP State". MyNorthwest.com. January 29, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  53. ^ Barbara Mikkelson (August 10, 2007). "Good Nabors Policy". Snopes. Retrieved September 5, 2007. 
  54. ^ Bowman, David (February 4, 1991). "Seen, Heard, Said – People". The Seattle Times (The Seattle Times Company). Retrieved November 22, 2008. 
  55. ^ Harada, Wayne (September 11, 2007). "Jim Nabors to be named honorary corporal September 25". The Honolulu Advertiser (Gannett Company). Retrieved November 24, 2008. 
  56. ^ "Marines Promote Jim Nabors' Gomer Pyle". KITV.com (KITV). September 26, 2007. Retrieved November 24, 2008. 
  57. ^ "Jim Nabors Honored in Home State". The Washington Post (The Washington Post Company). April 24, 2006. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  58. ^ "A night for heroes". Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Oahu Publications Inc. (subsidiary of Black Press)). December 12, 2006. Retrieved November 24, 2008. 
  59. ^ "DVIDS - Images - “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” Actor/Singer Jim Nabors receives honorary promotion to Sergeant [Image 3 of 6]". Dvidshub.net. 2013-11-01. Retrieved 2014-08-20. 

Bibliography[edit]

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