Jim Nabors awkwardly had his voice dubbed over in his movie debut

Gomer sounded more like Jimmy Cagney in his scene with Jimmy Stewart.

Bob Denver made sense as a beatnik. In 1963, before the S.S. Minnow set sail on its fateful three-hour tour, audiences knew him only as Maynard G. Krebs, the grungy jazzhead in a stained, tattered sweatshirt on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. That sitcom had just wrapped its four-season run when the movie Take Her, She's Mine went into production. Denver only had to grow his goatee into a beard to play his coffeehouse singer character.

The generation-gap comedy starred Jimmy Stewart and Sandra Dee. He played the dotty, conservative father. She was the budding hippie Boomer ready to change the world. Take Her, She's Mine adapted a popular 1961 Broadway production by Henry Ephron and Phoebe Ephron, who wrote it about their rebellious adolescent daughter, Nora. (Nora would go on to write When Harry Met Sally… and to direct Sleepless in Seattle.) It might as well have been called Those Darn Boomers.

Anyway, Stewart's controlling-father character investigates the supposedly libertine lifestyle of his kid. This brings him to a typical Greenwich Village folk club called Sleeping Pill, where his Bohemian daughter strums a guitar as drunk college boys shout, "Take it off!" Denver, sporting his hipster beard and striped shirt, plays in the joint, too. But the most curious character in the downtown dive is Clancy, the guy who runs the place.

20th Century FoxDenver in 'Take Her, She's Mine'

Clancy wears a flannel shirt, round glasses and chinstrap beard. He's a young fellow, but talks like a gangster in a Jimmy Cagney flick. Actually, his big-city jibber-jabber sounds a lot like Jimmy Cagney. Which really melts your brain when you realize that's Jim Nabors behind those glasses and beard. It was the first-ever movie for the Southern boy and he sounded like a Big Apple bookie. 

"Told all the folks back home in Sylacauga, Alabama, I was in the movie and they all went to see it," Nabors said in a 1969 newspaper column. "They couldn't recognize me with that hair on my face and they dubbed another voice in for mine. People down there believe I made it up that I was in that movie."

This was Nabor's big break! Here he was, sharing a dialogue scene with Oscar-winner Jimmy Stewart, who had worked with Hitchcock and Capra. And he sounded more like the Penguin than Gomer Pyle. So what happened?

"Played a scene with Jimmy Stewart and after it I heard the director say: 'That's the worst voice I ever heard in my life!'," Nabor explained.

 

The director in question was Henry Koster. What's ironic is that the Berlin-born Koster could not speak English when he first went to work for Universal Pictures in 1936. He convinced the studio to sign Abbott and Costello after seeing them in — you guessed it — a nightclub in New York.

Similarly, Nabors had been discovered in a nightclub in Los Angeles. Apparently, Koster did not communicate much with his casting director on Take Her, She's Mine. By that point, Nabors had already made his debut on The Andy Griffith Show. If you wanted to know what the guy sounded like, all you had to do was tune in to watch episodes like "The Bank Job" or "The Great Filling Station Robbery."

It was an inauspicious movie debut for Nabors, who would not appear in another big-screen production for two decades. But at least we got to briefly see Gilligan and Gomer together before they really blew up.


Watch Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. on MeTV!

Weeknights at 9 PM
Saturdays at 5 AM & 5:30 AM

*available in most MeTV markets
Save with
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

2 Comments

Post a comment
UTZAAKE 4 months ago
The ridiculous dubbing made Jim Nabors sound like Hank Azaria's dog-walking character in Mad About You. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FWf2RTGdDY&list=PLDDDC0F23FC787724&index=4&t=0s (first 84 seconds only).
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?