Golly! 12 things you might not know about Jim Nabors

Grab a handful of macadamia nuts and learn more about Gomer Pyle.

Top image: The Everett Collection

There was a time when you'd find cassette tapes of Jim Nabors crooning love songs at every truck stop in America. Heck, it still might be that time. Few performers have been more beloved for such wildly different personas. He was a romantic singer with a voice as deep as a mountain well. He was also the wide-eyed rube Gomer Pyle, squealing his catchphrase "Shazam!" on The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Nabors had equal success in comedy and music — a he's somewhat of a racing legend, too.

1. He worked as a typist for the United Nations.


After graduating from the University of Alabama, the business administration major moved to New York City, where he briefly worked at the U.N. After a year in the Big Apple, he moved back south to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and worked as a film cutter.

Image: AP Photo

2. He was discovered in a cabaret theater in Santa Monica.


His film-cutting experience earned him a gig in Los Angeles, where he began to perform at the nightclub the Horn, a comedy and music spot modeled after European cabarets. It was there that he was discovered singing "hillbilly monologues and operatic arias," which earned him an appearance on The Steve Allen Show. Later, Andy Griffith would pop into the Horn, spot Nabors… and the rest is history.

Image: The Everett Collection

3. At the peak of 'Gomer Pyle,' he was earning $40,000 a week in Vegas.


In 1966, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. was peaking in popularity. When not filming, Nabors was moonlighting as a nightclub singer in Las Vegas, raking in $40,000 a week, as People reported in 1986.

Image: The Everett Collection

4. He played "Homer Lyle" in 'Cannonball Run II.'


His iconic role of Gomer Pyle continued to pay dividends long after the show went off the air. In 1984, Nabors somewhat reprised the character in Cannonball Run II, one of three films he made with pal Burt Reynolds. His character was called Homer Lyle, in case people didn't get the reference. It was that kind of movie.

Image: Warner Bros.

5. He was the guest star on each season premier of 'The Carol Burnett Show.'


Burnett considered Nabors her "good luck charm." Indeed, there must have been something to it. Her sketch comedy and variety show lasted an impressive 11 seasons.

Image: The Everett Collection

6. He sold Carol Burnett's property in Hawaii.


The friendship between Burnett and Nabors led to a real estate deal, too. Nabors sold Carol and husband Joe Hamilton five and a half acres on the southern tip of Maui, according to a 1982 People article. Burnett and Hamilton were no strangers to the Aloha State. The two honeymooned in Waikiki in 1963, as seen here.

Image: AP Photo

7. He is sometimes confused with Britt Leach.


Many websites, including IMDb, list the Knight Rider episode "Soul Survivor" on Nabor's acting credits. It seems as if folks are confusing the actor with Britt Leach, who plays Elmer, the country bumpkin who lends Hasselhoff a Studebaker. Leach does look and act rather Gomerish.

Image: NBCUniversal Television

8. He didn't know the song "Back Home Again in Indiana" the first time he sang at the Indianapolis 500.


For 42 years, Nabors sang at the Indianapolis 500, up until 2014. Back in 1972, when he first appeared at the race to belt out a tune, he thought he was hired to sing "The Star Spangled Banner." Turns out, he did not know the lyrics to “Back Home Again in Indiana." So he wrote the lyrics on his hand.

Image: AP Photo/Darron Cummings

9. He lived on a macadamia nut farm in Hawaii.


Nabors was long way from Mayberry in real life. He resided on a 500-acre macadamia nut farm on Maui. Watch a video tour of his home.

Jim Nabors' Maui Mac Nut Farm from John Yasunaga on Vimeo.

Image: John Yasunaga / Vimeo

10. He married at the age of 82.


In 2013, Nabors tied the knot with his longtime partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader. The two were married in Seattle.

Image: AP Photo/Darron Cummings 

11. There is a highway named after him in Alabama.


In October 1978, the state of Alabama renamed a section of U.S. Highway 280 the Jim Nabors Highway. It runs past his hometown of Sylacauga, which is just up the road from Talladega. Parts of the movie Stroker Ace were filmed at the Talladega Superspeedway.

Image: The Everett Collection

12. Jim Nabors is an honorary Marine and Gomer has been promoted twice.


Pvt. Pyle? That's Corporal Gomer Pyle, now. To honor Gomer, the Marine Corps promoted the character to lance corporal in 2001 and again to corporal in 2007, thanking him for his contributions to the public image of the Marines. Additionally, in 2001, Nabors was made an honorary member of the U.S.M.C. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. paved the way for other Marines series such as Black Sheep Squadron and Major Dad.

Image: AP Photo/Ronen Zilberman



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lisaditson 15 months ago
We would love to have Gomer Pyle back again weekday evenings! We miss Gomer!!
Stephen 36 months ago
Best spin-off series ever.
caleb53 41 months ago
Never forget..... "THANK-YA!" "THANK-YA!" "THANK-YA!"
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