6 details you never noticed in the Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. pilot episode

Take a closer look at this season-four finale of The Andy Griffith Show!

Of all the characters in Mayberry, Gomer Pyle was perhaps not the first to come to mind to get his own sitcom in 1964. In hindsight, it was inspired. We are glad Jim Nabors got his own spotlight.

Before the spinoff Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. kicked off, the series got a pilot episode in the spring of 1964 with "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.," the final episode in season four of The Andy Griffith Show.

It was certainly an outlier of an episode, as Andy and Gomer are the only two regular characters from Mayberry in the story. Instead, we met a crop of new characters… some of which did not continue on to Gomer Pyle, surprisingly.

Let's take a look at this smashing, successful spinoff pilot.

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1. This actor died before this episode aired.

At the end of the episode, Colonel Watson — or, as Carter calls him behind his back, the "old man" — shows up to inspect the raw recruits. He commends Gomer's tidy bed. You might wonder why this Col. Watson character never appears on the Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. series. Col. Edward Gray (Forrest Compton) was the superior on that show. Frank Albertson portrayed Watson in the pilot. He is perhaps most recognizable as Tom Cassidy in Psycho a few years early. The actor passed away on Leap Day in 1964. "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." aired in May of that year. Alas, Albertson passed away before he could see his work on The Andy Griffith Show.

2. Gomer sings an archaic version of the "Marines' Hymn."

In the opening scene and later at camp with a bucket on his head, Gomer belts out the "Marines' Hymn," that familiar song that begins, "From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli!" Listen closely to his lyrics in the first verse. Gomer sings, "On the land and on the sea…" This would have been a quite dated version of the song, even in the 1960s. Back in 1942, the Marines officially changed the line "On the land as on the sea" to "In the air, on land, and sea" to reflect the addition of aviation to its arsenal. Would Carter really have tolerated a 22-year-old version of the song from a new recruit?

3. It is the only time Vince Carter's correct rank is used.

Throughout the show Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., characters and fans referred to Vince Carter as "Sergeant Carter." This is not correct, as anyone can see by the insignia on his arm. The patch on his uniform features three chevrons and two rockers, denoting the rank of Gunnery Sergeant, E-7, two rankings higher than a mere "Sergeant," or E-5. In the pilot episode, however, Carter correctly announced himself as "Gunnery Sergeant Carter" and gets his due rank. Really, we should have called him "Gunny Carter" for authenticity sake. 

4. This is series producer Sheldon Leonard's real office up the stairs.

"Camp Wilson" was, of course, not a real military base. The episode was filmed on the Desilu Productions lot. Behind the new recruits you can see a staircase. Those stairs, in reality, led to the office of Sheldon Leonard, the producer of The Andy Griffith Show.

5. Andy and Gomer mispronounce "Marine Corps."

When Gomer tells Andy that he has joined the Marines, he calls them the "Corps," pronouncing the word "Korrs." Andy then repeats "Korrs." Of course, Gomer being Gomer, it fits his character, and perhaps Andy is subtly ribbing him, but it should be noted that the word is correctly pronounced "Korr."

6. Gomer arrives at a different camp.

Did something seem different when we mentioned Camp Wilson a couple of items above? Most fans of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. associate the private with being stationed at Camp Henderson, a fictionalized version of Camp Pendleton in California. However, that is a long drive for Sheriff Andy. In the pilot, Andy drives Gomer to camp in North Carolina, somewhere between Mayberry and Wilmington. This Camp Wilson was a brief location for Gomer, as the comedy shifted to Camp Henderson early in season one of the spin-off.

 
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JonDickerson 1 month ago
Goner had a beautiful voice but when Carter has him sing Gomer says he doesn’t have much of a voice and sings poorly too .
TMPenny 2 months ago
I have watched these episodes so very many times. Still waiting for Gomer to change into combat boots, instead of sneakers! They never got dirty! LOL
Any resaon he didn't wear them?
JeffMauldin 3 months ago
#6 During the pilot Gomer was stationed at boot camp. Later he was stationed at camp Henderson as his duty station. Almost no military personnel ever stay at the same base as their boot camp.
I went to Bootcamp at Parris Island SC, and after going to school at Camp Johnson, and ranking 2nd in class, I had a choice of duty station. I chose Parris Island SC, and I was there for three years!
HP11 4 months ago
Never thought this show or the character was funny. Silly, corny, but not funny.
fubsy 4 months ago
I read that Jim Nabors didn't watch the openings (there were 2 filmed, 1 in B&W, 1 in color) to his show where he's marching with real marines. He said so many of them he marched with died in Vietnam. He didn't elaborate but I assume he'd received letters from family members who saw their fallen loved ones in those scenes.
JonGoldberg 9 months ago
The Camp name makes no difference. We know it’s fiction. They coulda used Henderson or Wilson all-thru the series. What difference would it make? 🤦🏻‍♂️
hootrs23 9 months ago
calling a gunnery sergeant ''gunny carter'' or even ''sarge'' is disrespect. also, a sergeant e-5 is not a ''mere'' sergeant. he is also a NCO.
RobPoston hootrs23 5 months ago
Yes, and no. It would be a disrespect if from a subordinate.

As for being a "mere" sergeant, an E5 is actually just a sergeant. An E6 is a Staff Sergeant, E7 a Gunnery Sergeant. All E5's are NCO's, as are E7's, (technically SNCO, or Staff Non-Commissioned Officers). A JO is enlisted through E3 (LCpl.), NCO is rank of E4 (Cpl.) and E5 (Sergeant), and SNCO is E6 (Staff Sergeant) through E9.
EllenKearnsAsleson 9 months ago
Frank Albertson (Colonel Watson) is also known to movie fans as Sam “Hee Haw” Wainwright in “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
Joe11b 9 months ago
Jim nabors was 33 or 34 years old when he portrayed pfc. Gomer Pyle. Average age for a marine corps recruit at the time was 17-25 at the most. Also, in real life, Jim nabors was 4f (he had asthma), which disqualified him from military service
gatxer Joe11b 5 months ago
I love Jim Nabors but he was 4F for being gay also.
Barky 17 months ago
Another fact: When Andy walks into where Sergeant Carter is dining with other Marines, composer Earl Hagen's song "Harlem Nocturne" is playing on the jukebox.
txredhead56 17 months ago
I have noticed that Carter was always referred to as "Sgt. Carter" or more commonly by other NCO's as "Sarge." This would not be allowed in the Marine Corps. He would be referred to as Gunnery Sgt. Carter, or simply as "Gunny."
Tom8888 17 months ago
Gunnery Sgt. Carter, gives his full rank when going to the Lt. Col office in the episode, when Gomer is trying to pass the obstacle course
MeTvEr 17 months ago
The staircase to Sheldon Leonard's (fact #4) office was used very frequently. Captain Ironpants episode for one. Also, Sheldon Leonard played the director of the Marine Movie Gomer and Carter were in. Very funny episodes.
GaryCollins 17 months ago
I’ve always liked it but no one noticed in the pilot episode Andy meets Carter and convinces him Gomer is related to Gen. Pyle.
However in episode 2.26 when Opie runaways to join the Marines, Andy arrives to retrieve Opie, Gomer comments about them meeting for the first time, and Carter doesn’t seem to remember Andy Taylor either despite being tricked by him before.

Moriyah GaryCollins 17 months ago
He might've not had a good Si. (Introverted Sensing)
MrBill 17 months ago
Anyone notice a lack of continuity between the Gomer Pyle USMC episode of TAGS and the first episode of the series? Gunnery Sargent Carter asks Gomer what his name is in the first episode of the series but wouldn't he have already known it in the pilot from TAGS?
ErnestTBass MrBill 10 months ago
It was aired 5 months after the last TAGS episode. That's a long time between. Besides many people might've not seen the pilot episode on TAGS. Any show is going to thatduce all the characters. It's not that dramatic.
BTW TAGS was loaded with contradictions. They couldn't even get Barney's middle name straight. Called Floyd Colby once and Goober as a "Beasley". Couldn't even get how long Barney was a deputy. TAGS was a lot worse about the contradictions.
I could go on for hours.
sandman 17 months ago
Here is a Fun Fact for you METV. Sheldon Leonard lives on in The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstetter
WilliamLAllen 17 months ago
I don't know about the Marines, but in the Army an E-7 Sargent First Class is addressed as Sargent. A First Sargent and a Sargent Major (E-8 and E-9) are addressed by their rank. Also a Staff Sargent is addressed as Sargent.
txredhead56 WilliamLAllen 17 months ago
In the U.S. Marine Corps, an E-7 is the rank of Gunnery Sargent (three chevrons up and two rockers down). They are addressed formally as "Gunnery Sargent" and informally as "Gunny".
EveningSkye txredhead56 13 months ago
Please, folks, the word is SERGEANT!!!
LynCarceo EveningSkye 9 months ago
Thank you. I was getting a bit ticked about the misspelling. I was an E4 sergeant in the Air Force back when they still had buck sergeants.
EveningSkye LynCarceo 6 months ago
So was I! When I got out, I was a MSgt. Air Force all the way!
RichardPniewski 17 months ago
It's all well and good on the base camp, but there was also...you know...Vietnam...
tadlem RichardPniewski 17 months ago
This series started in 1964. We weren't engaged in Viet Nam until 1965.
And, there's this thing about it being entertainment, too...ya know....
ErnestTBass tadlem 10 months ago
There were some soldiers there in 1964. Besides shows like this were meant to be at escape. Look back to when Ernest T was going to join the Army. Andy even told the Sgt. that "I know you need as many boys that you can get for the war.

Joe11b ErnestTBass 9 months ago
The u.s. military personnel in south Vietnam as of 1964 were advisors, pilots, usmc embassy staff, and other support personnel.
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