James Thurston Nabors (born June 12, 1930 in Sylacauga) is an actor, singer, and comedian. He is best known for his portrayal of the good-hearted but naïve Gomer Pyle on two highly successful 1960s sitcoms, The Andy Griffith Show and its spinoff Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.. Given his goofy demeanor and high-pitched voice on both Andy Griffith and Gomer Pyle, it was surprising to many when he revealed a strong baritone singing voice and turned it into a successful recording career.
Nabors is the son of Fred and Mavis Nabors of Sylacauga. He graduated from the University of Alabama.
Nabors was also a popular guest on variety shows in the 1960s and 1970s, including two of his own (1969 and 1974). He was a favorite guest on The Carol Burnett Show and The Muppet Show, and made a couple of guest appearances in the early 1970s on Sesame Street, one in which he sang the alphabet song and another, similar one in which he sang-counted to twenty. Carol Burnett considered Nabors her lucky charm, and he was always the first guest on every new season of her show. Burnett and Nabors have long been close friends with both owning homes in Hawaii. Comedian Minnie Pearl looked on Nabors as a surrogate son, and he often vacationed with her and her husband.
After allegedly contracting hepatitis after accidentally cutting his face and making himself a "bloody mess" while attempting to shave with a straight razor in India, Nabors received a liver transplant in 1994. He performs occasionally, although he prefers to operate his macadamia nut plantation in Hawaii, where he also grows tropical flowers.
Jim got his start in television using his hillbilly skits and operatic singing on The Steve Allen Show, where he became a regular during the final season. He performed in live venues until Andy Griffith saw his act at The Horn in Santa Monica, California, and invited him to audition for The Andy Griffith Show. In 1964, his character was spun off into his own series, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., which ran until 1969. According to producer Aaron Ruben, the show was loosely based on the same premise as No Time for Sergeants, in which Andy Griffith had starred on Broadway years earlier.
Actor Burt Reynolds used Nabors in a number of his movies during the 1980s, including The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas with Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton, Stroker Ace with Reynolds and Loni Anderson and a cameo role in "The Cannonball Run II.
From 1997-2006, Nabors starred in A Merry Christmas with Friends and Nabors, a live production at the Hawaii Theatre Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Produced by Burton White, Nabors completely donated his time and talents in the production which featured, during its run, local and national artists including Karen Keawehawaii, Emma Veary, Jimmy Borges, Frank Delima, Philip Huber & the Huber Marionettes, the Diamond Head Theatre Shooting Stars, Halau Hula O Kawailiula, Hula Hui O Nuuanu YMCA, the Company Singers, and the Hawaii Theatre Orchestra and Honolulu Symphony under the baton of Matt Catingub. The show ran forty performances over a decade and was directed by Tom Hansen until his death in 2006. The final performance run, in 2006, was directed by John Rampage and dedicated to Hansen.
His stage career began as Harold Hill in The Music Man with Florence Henderson at the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre.
Nabors has recorded twenty eight albums and numerous singles and has garnered five gold and one platinum record.
Since 1972, Nabors has sung "Back Home Again in Indiana" 29 times during pre-race ceremonies for the Indianapolis 500 including performances each year from 1987 to 2006. An illness kept him from performing the song in 2007. Instead, the Purdue University Marching Band performed the song that year with race fans encouraged to sing along.
- In 1989, Nabors was amongst the inaugural group of Alabama Walk of Fame star recipients.
- In 1991, his long and successful portrayal of Gomer Pyle earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- In 2001, Private First Class "Gomer Pyle" received an honorary promotion to Lance Corporal from the Commandant of the Marine Corps James L. Jones. On September 25, 2007, he was promoted from Lance Corporal to Corporal by Lt. General John F. Goodman.
- Nabors received honors from the University of Alabama on September 2, 2006, before a football game against the University of Hawaii.
- U.S. Highway 280 in Talladega County was named "Jim Nabors Highway" in honor of the Sylacauga native.
- Jim Nabors was honored on Friday, January 19, 2007 at "A Night of American Heroes," along with U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye. It was a patriotic musical salute to recognize individuals who epitomize the ideals of American heroism and values. The event benefited the restoration and maintenance of the "Mighty Mo," the Battleship Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
- Jim Nabors. (2008, February 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:54, February 26, 2008
- Garcia, Oskar (January 30, 2013) "Actor Jim Nabors of ‘Andy Griffith Show’ marries male partner; says he ‘just wanted it legal’." Associated Press/Washington Post
- Jim Nabors website