Jim Nabors
OccupationActor, singer
ParentsFred & Mavis Nabors
SpouseStan Cadwallader

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, a gas station attendant whom some described as dim-witted, though Nabors himself said that the Gomer character was not so much dim-witted as just wanting to see the good in people.[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) after revealing a rich baritone voice. He subsequently recorded numerous albums and singles, most of them containing romantic ballads.

Biography Edit

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 also 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 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 gigs 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]

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] However, not only was 1983's Stroker Ace (about a race car driver [Reynolds] who fights a fried-chicken chain entrepreneur) panned, Nabors earned a Golden Raspberry Award for his performance as the title character's mechanic.[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, 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]

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]

Accolades and honors Edit

Nabors' successes have earned him accolades. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991.[48] "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.[49][50] 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.[51] 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.[52] U.S. Highway 280 in Talladega County, Alabama was named "Jim Nabors Highway" in honor of the Sylacauga native.[46]

Personal life Edit

An urban legend maintains that Nabors married Rock Hudson in the 1970s. In fact, the two were never more than friends. According to Hudson, the legend 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. At the time Nabors was dating his boyfriend, Stan, whom he eventually married; Hudson was also long suspected of being homosexual, and because of the fear that one or both of them might be outed, Nabors and Hudson never spoke to each other again.[53]

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.[54]

On January 29, 2013, Hawaii News Now reported that Nabors married his partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader (age 64), at Seattle, Washington's Fairmont Olympic Hotel on January 15. "I'm 82 and he's in his 60s and so we've been together for 38 years and I'm not ashamed of people knowing, it's just that it was such a personal thing, I didn't tell anybody," Nabors said. "I'm very happy that I've had a partner of 38 years and I feel very blessed. And, what can I tell you, I'm just very happy."

Nabors said he and Cadwallader traveled to Washington state, where gay marriages became legal in early December 2012. They were married at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle.

A judge performed the marriage ceremony in the privacy of their hotel room with a couple of friends who live down the street from them near Diamond Head as witnesses, Nabors said.

Nabors said he met Cadwallader in 1975 when Cadwallader was a Honolulu fire fighter. He eventually went to work for Nabors and they began a relationship.

Nabors has no plan to get involved in the gay marriage debate.

"I'm not a debater. And everybody has their own opinion about this and actually I'm not an activist so I've never gotten involved in any of this," Nabors said.

Same-sex marriage had become legal in Washington the previous month.[55][56][57]

Notes Edit

  1. Paul T. Hellmann (2005). Historical gazetteer of the United States. Taylor & Francis, 20–. ISBN 978-0-415-93948-5. Retrieved on June 30, 2011. 
  2. PBS, Pioneers of Television (2008) PBS Pioneers of Television, Season One, Sitcoms. PBS. Retrieved on 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 on November 21, 2008. 
  5. Nabors to call it quits on American Music Theatre stage. LancasterOnline. Archived from the original on November 9, 2008. Retrieved on November 12, 2008.
  6. Brower, p. 140
  7. Jim Nabors History. (official site). Retrieved on November 10, 2008.
  8. King, Susan. "Just Like Gomer, Jim Nabors Remains the Optimist", Los Angeles Times, Tribune Company, June 2, 2002, pp. F-15. Retrieved on December 6, 2008. 
  9. Jim Nabors Biography., LLC. Archived from the original on January 26, 2013. Retrieved on November 12, 2008.
  10. Kelly, p.50
  11. Olson, p.196
  12. Jim Nabors: Biography. Country Music Television. Retrieved on November 12, 2008.
  13. Jim Nabors Biography. Allmovie. Retrieved on November 12, 2008.
  14. Jim Nabors finished with Gomer. (January 31, 1969). Retrieved on 2011-06-30.
  15. Scott, Vernon. "Jim Nabors Follows His Instincts to Fame", The Bryan Times, June 10, 1970, p. 16. Retrieved on November 22, 2008. 
  16. Wright, Fred. "Meet Jim (Gomer) Nabors", St. Petersburg Independent, Times Publishing Company, January 22, 1973, p. 12-A. Retrieved on November 21, 2008. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 Kelly, p.135
  18. Harold, Chuck. "Jim Nabors Soars on Wings", St. Petersburg Independent, Times Publishing Company, June 17, 1971, p. 12-A. Retrieved on November 21, 2008. 
  19. Ober, Chick. "The Singing Jim Nabors", St. Petersburg Times, Times Publishing Company. Retrieved on November 21, 2008. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 Ankeny, Jason. [[[:Template:Allmusic]] Jim Nabors]. Allmusic. Retrieved on November 12, 2008.
  21. "Wednesday, September 24", Time, Time Inc., September 26, 1969. Retrieved on November 22, 2008. 
  22. Scott, Vernon. "Television in Review", The Bryan Times, Deseret News Publishing Company, October 9, 1969, p. B7. Retrieved on January 27, 2009. 
  23. Du Brow, Rick. "Nabors to Plan Tour Show", The Deseret News, May 12, 1971. Retrieved on January 27, 2009. 
  24. "Jim Nabors Has No Complaints", Rome News-Tribune, News Publishing Company, May 30, 1971, p. 5E. Retrieved on November 21, 2008. 
  25. Laurent, Lawrence. "Hanging on to Her Femininity Is Carol Burnett's Secret", St. Petersburg Independent, Times Publishing Company, August 10, 1975, p. 12-A. Retrieved on November 21, 2008. 
  26. Jim Nabors Biography. Yahoo!. Retrieved on December 27, 2008.
  27. "Complete Television Programs for Monday", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Block Communications, November 19, 1973, p. 31. Retrieved on November 22, 2008. 
  28. NBC 1973 World Series Theme Introduction. Retrieved on April 19, 2012.
  29. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named emmy
  30. Erickson, p.141
  31. Eder, Shirley. "Burt and Dolly Are Wonderful Together", St. Petersburg Times, Times Publishing Company, July 16, 1982, p. 4-A. Retrieved on December 29, 2008. 
  32. Anderson, George. "'Whorehouse' Loses in Translation", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Block Communications, July 26, 1982, pp. B2. Retrieved on November 22, 2008. 
  33. Hicks, Christopher. "Worst Little Musical in Texas", Deseret News, July 30–31, 1982. Retrieved on December 29, 2008. 
  34. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named raspberry
  35. "'Cannonball' Sequel Is Simply Loaded With Stars", Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Media Holdings, June 30, 1984. Retrieved on December 29, 2008.  (Paid access required to view article.)
  36. Cannonball Run 2. Rotten Tomatoes. News Corp. Retrieved on December 27, 2008.
  37. Vick, Karl. "Goll-ly, Andy's Back!", St. Petersburg Times, Times Publishing Company, April 11, 1986, pp. 2D. Retrieved on November 22, 2008. 
  38. Hale, Mike. "Sylvan in Paradise", The New York Times, New York Times Company. Retrieved on December 27, 2008. 
  39. Macy, Robert. "Nabors Stages Reluctant Comeback", The Deseret News, Deseret News Publishing Company, August 1, 1984, p. 8 EV. Retrieved on January 27, 2009. 
  40. "Jim Nabors Brings Flavor of Mayberry to Riverside", Mojave Daily Miner, October 16–22, 1990. Retrieved on December 29, 2008. 
  41. "Gomer Groaning", The Victoria Advocate, Victoria Advocate Publishing Co., January 6, 1994, p. 5B. Retrieved on January 27, 2009. 
  42. Jim Nabors in Paradise. American Profile. Retrieved on November 15, 2008.
  43. Interview with Jim Nabors. KHNL. Raycom Media (March 20, 2007). Retrieved on December 29, 2008.
  44. Levenbrown, Cheryl. "People in the News",, February 29, 1995. Retrieved on January 27, 2009. Archived from the original on September 11, 2012. 
  45. 2003 Tour Schedule. (official site). Retrieved on November 12, 2008.
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 Hawaii Pacific University to honor Jim Nabors. The Honolulu Advertiser. Gannett Company (January 5, 2008). Retrieved on November 12, 2008.
  47. "'Back Home Again,' Jim Nabors intertwined in Indy 500 tradition", ESPN. Retrieved on November 22, 2008. 
  48. Bowman, David. "Seen, Heard, Said – People", The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times Company, February 4, 1991. Retrieved on November 22, 2008. 
  49. Harada, Wayne. "Jim Nabors to be named honorary corporal September 25", The Honolulu Advertiser, Gannett Company, September 11, 2007. Retrieved on November 24, 2008. 
  50. "Marines Promote Jim Nabors' Gomer Pyle",, KITV, September 26, 2007. Retrieved on November 24, 2008. 
  51. "Jim Nabors Honored in Home State", The Washington Post, The Washington Post Company, April 24, 2006. Retrieved on November 12, 2008. 
  52. "A night for heroes", Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Oahu Publications Inc. (subsidiary of Black Press), December 12, 2006. Retrieved on November 24, 2008. 
  53. Barbara Mikkelson (August 10, 2007). Good Nabors Policy. Snopes. Retrieved on 2007-09-05.
  54. Tuohy, Matt (July 16, 2008). Jim Nabors. Midweek. MidWeek Printing, Inc. (an Oahu Publications Company). Retrieved on December 7, 2008.

Bibliography Edit

External links Edit

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