Aunt Bee coached Jim Nabors through his first day on set

Even Gomer Pyle needed some homespun encouragement now and again.

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By the time Jim Nabors joined the cast, The Andy Griffith Show had already been on the air for two-and-a-half seasons. The characters all had a believable rapport as the actors had amassed 75 episodes of comradery and repartee. That palpable chemistry can’t be manufactured. It should’ve been intimidating, then, to join the cast that far into production, boarding a train that was already speeding along the tracks. But Gomer Pyle is absolutely better late than never.

When Andy Griffith discovered him in 1962, Jim Nabors was performing in a cabaret theater act in a nightclub called The Horn. There, as part of his routine, Nabors had developed the character that would grow to be Gomer. Impressed with Nabors’ performance, Griffith invited the comedian to bring the character to Mayberry for a one-off appearance on The Andy Griffith Show. His big break had almost come a year earlier; before Griffith, fellow-comedian Bill Dana saw Nabors was suited for Hollywood and invited him onto The Steve Allen Show, but the intended episode was canceled. Luckily, though, Nabors’ fortune would be permanently reversed when Andy Griffith became such an enthusiast.

On set though, few folks were nearly as enthusiastic. Nabors, who was suited for and trained in the world of standup comedy, did not know the rules of television acting. Instead, his performance was much the same as in nightclubs: broad and theatrical, in a way where everyone in a great big venue could see, hear, and be in on the joke. Things were different on TV, though. The rest of the actors in The Andy Griffith Show were well-versed in the more nuanced approach to screen acting. The imbalance was immediately clear, and things could have worked out much differently for Jim Nabors. Instead, fate and a friend intervened.

As Jim Nabors recalls in Daniel de Visé’s Andy and Don, Frances Bavier, TV’s Aunt Bee, approached him during that first tumultuous day, asking him his level of experience before walking off-frame to observe his delivery. “Darling,” she told him, “the camera never misses anything. It never misses a wink, or a blink, or a smile. I know you’re from nightclubs. You don’t have to do any of that expository, expressive acting. Just settle down and be yourself.”

History shows that the advice paid off. Nabors’ Gomer Pyle was popular enough to be invited back for an additional 22 episodes before leading a spin-off, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. In addition to Nabors’ acting success, a genuine friendship grew from his exchange with Frances Bavier. The two remained close for years and would go antiquing together on weekends.

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dougandandyfan 13 months ago
I'm thinking about the episode where
Gomer Pyle sang Blowing In The Wind with the hippies Michelle Moondog and Gordy and beatnik Maynard G. KREBBS ON THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS AND THE GYPSIES IN MAYBERRY ON
THE Andy Griffith. Does anyone out there know the Difference between
Hippies Beatnicks and Gypsies ?
LoveMETV22 13 months ago
𝗚𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗹 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘁:
𝗝𝗶𝗺 𝗡𝗮𝗯𝗼𝗿𝘀' 𝗙𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘄𝗲𝗹𝗹 𝗣𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝟮𝟬𝟭𝟰 𝗜𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗽𝗼𝗹𝗶𝘀 𝟱𝟬𝟬
𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗡𝗲𝘄𝘀 𝗰𝗹𝗶𝗽 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗛𝗼𝗻𝗼𝗹𝘂𝗹𝘂, 𝗛𝗮𝘄𝗮𝗶𝗶"𝘀 𝗞𝗜𝗧𝗩 𝗽𝗿𝗶𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁.

LoveMETV22 13 months ago
"𝘼 𝙜𝙚𝙣𝙪𝙞𝙣𝙚 𝙛𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙥 𝙜𝙧𝙚𝙬 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙚𝙭𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙜𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙁𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚𝙨 𝘽𝙖𝙫𝙞𝙚𝙧."
Glad to see that friendship carried over when Aunt Bee visited Gomer.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 13 months ago
Nicely done!
Deleted 13 months ago
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Pacificsun 13 months ago
We have to see that in print, please.
13 months ago
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JHP 14 months ago
"eventide" - that's all I'm gonna say
Rob 14 months ago
Hey, what happened to the Gomer Pyle fan who used to post on here? Haven’t heard from him/her in awhile.
MrsPhilHarris Rob 13 months ago
I thought Moriyah posted a few weeks ago but it was actually 3 months ago.
Rob MrsPhilHarris 13 months ago
I thought that it had been awhile.
Andybandit 14 months ago
Good for Aunt Bee for coaching Gomer on his first day on the set. He wasn't in a lot of episode of TAGS.
Pacificsun 14 months ago
MeTV Staff: why in the world would you present a wonderful, purposeful, enjoyable article about Jim Nabors (and Gomer Pyle). While at the same time taking the Series off the air. In order to fit in yet another hour of MASH??? Either you don't count on us reading the stories. Or you're not being sensitive towards the viewers.
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MrsPhilHarris RachelR 13 months ago
🤣 But seriously there has to be something else. They could move shows that air overnight, or they could move DVD or PM earlier or put on something”new” like Ozzie & Harriet or Mission Impossible or something.
Pacificsun RachelR 13 months ago
Batman is already on there.
MrsPhilHarris 13 months ago
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MrsPhilHarris 13 months ago
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vonstockhoff 14 months ago
I understand the characters Jim Nabors played and his real self were indistinguishable, he was the real deal. Probably one of the nicest guys to ever call Hollywood home. He had challenges keeping his lifestyle secret back then, but apparently everyone in Hollywood knew. And no one cared they liked him so much.
tootsieg vonstockhoff 13 months ago
I agree. I think he was a sweet man.
harlow1313 14 months ago
Gomer and I share an embarrassing problem; hairs poking through our dress socks.
Runeshaper 14 months ago
Getting advice from Aunt Bee is pure gold! It's neat that they went antiquing together too (-:
JHP Runeshaper 14 months ago
well she knows her mustache cup (why in the name of Moses a woman would get one of those?!?) - again the TAGS writers visited the Morrison sisters
Runeshaper 13 months ago
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justjeff 14 months ago
GOLLLLY! I thought that MeTV had *finally* run out of Gomer Pyle stories, but surprise, surprise, surprise... they found another one!
LoveMETV22 justjeff 14 months ago
If he said it once, he probably said it a thousand times, or maybe a hundred.LOL!
He was a fun character though.
justjeff MrsPhilHarris 14 months ago
Narf! Zort! Poit! Troz!
"I dunno, Brain... If they called them 'Sad Meals' would anybody buy them? Narf!
JHP justjeff 14 months ago
shhhhhhhhhhhazam! - can you imagine Frank Sutton instead of BARN? both very good at yelling and then you can throw Jackie Gleason in there too
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