Jim Nabors loved returning to his most iconic role

Nabors was proud to come back to Gomer Pyle in the made-for-TV reunion.

NBC/Universal

Some actors loathe the character they become most associated with. Fears of typecasting cause many TV stars to distance themselves from the role that made them famous. Jaleel White struggled for years to establish his own identity when the public wanted him to always be Steve Urkel. Carol Burnett, one of the most recognizable faces of the '70s small screen, was afraid of being typecast as the silly characters with goofy faces she portrayed on The Carol Burnett Show.

This wasn't the case for Jim Nabors, famous for his role as Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show, and its spin-off, Gomer Pyle: U.S.M.C. Nothing could keep the actor from heading back to the fishing hole in the 1986 Return to Mayberry TV movie. 

"I always enjoyed him," said Nabors, regarding Pyle, in a 1986 interview with The Times. "People expect me to be Gomer. They are used to it."

But what of the town that Gomer called home? Did Jim Nabors ever grow weary of the fictional North Carolina community where Pyle hung his hat? "It was wonderful returning to Mayberry," said Nabors. "It was like I never went away, as if the in-between years never happened."

In fact, Nabors enjoyed the reunion so much that it sparked in him a revival of sorts. Having burnt out on show business, the actor briefly sequestered himself in Hawaii, far away from the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. While a full-fledged Griffith reboot was never in the picture (scheduling conflicted with Andy Griffith's other show, Matlock), Nabors was warm about the idea. "I think revisited shows are great," said Nabors. "I think many people don't like what they are watching today." 

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22 Comments

kendel7 2 months ago
Would've liked to have seen Gomer in the 1st season of TAGS!
McGillahooala 2 months ago
“Many people don’t like what they are watching today.” This was in 1986. This poor man could not comprehend the crap that is being created today or the idea that even if it is not watched it will be made anyway. I’m glad that many of the greats that we watch on MeTV aren’t here to see the Manson style brainwashing that has become American television.
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Parrothead 14 months ago
Any time I see an article about Jim Nabors there’s always one thing missing.

One of the traditions of the Indianapolis 500 is the singing of “Back Home Again In Indiana” before the race. Although he wasn’t from Indiana, Jim Nabors performed it for years. After his health no longer permitted him to make the trip, many other performers have done it but never as great as Jim Nabors.
terrymarvin 14 months ago
Monday, May 11, 2023-- 7:38 am CST
I saw the movie sometime ago. I think I have the movie on DVD. It was a special feature on a DVD.

Terry Marvin (Dallas, Texas)
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ww245 14 months ago
I liked Jim Nabors and his home of Mayberry does exist for real. Take a walk down main street in Mt. Airy, NC and it'll remind you of those days of yesteryear where walking down to the pond or the creek mattered more than getting that job done or you ran into someone you were angry with but you both became friends after hanging on the porch chit chatting. That's how I like to remember Mayberry......it's always in my dreams.....
Oldwatcher73 14 months ago
on a hawaiian vacation several years back,i had the chance to take a helicopter tour of the islands..it was wonderful and a lifteime experience..on part of the tour, the pilot flew us over a beautiful,well cared for and landscaped home on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean..i dont remember which island it was (hawaii,kauai or maui),but the pilot explained that was the home of jim neighbors as he was pointing out landmarks and island beauty!..my thought was GOLLLLLLEEEE..as his character on andy griffith used to say all the time!!
FLETCH 14 months ago
A Gomer Pyle: U.S.M.C. reunion movie would have been great to see but sadly Frank Sutton died in 1974, only 5 years after the original series ended.

60s sitcom reunion shows/movies didn't get started until the late 70's with Halloween with the New Addams Family and Rescue from Gilligan's Island.

To be followed in the early 80s with The Munsters' Revenge, Return of the Beverly Hillbillies, I Dream of Jeannie... Fifteen Years Later (minus Larry Hagman) and The New Leave It to Beaver, among others.

And even into the 90s with Return to Green Acres and I Still Dream of Jeannie (again minus Larry Hagman)

I'm a big fan of Gomer Pyle: U.S.M.C. and it's too bad they never made a reunion movie but it would have been impossible without Frank Sutton, in my opinion.
FLETCH 14 months ago
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tootsieg 14 months ago
I always thought Jim Nabors was a nice man with a wonderful voice. The reunion show must of been a lot of fun for the entire cast.
ww245 tootsieg 14 months ago
You're right, he had a magnificent voice for sure. What a cordial guy too.
NancyEddy 14 months ago
I always preferred to think that Gomer married LouAnn after he got out of the Marines and they moved back to help Goober with the station in Mayberry. I was a little diappointed not to see that in the reunion, and Gomer being back to his silly self along with Cousin Goober.
drcrumpler 14 months ago
On The Lucy Show, when Lucy was temporarily in the Marines giving the drill sergeant a rough time, it was said that there was no one who could be worse than Lucy Carmichael, and in that moment, out walked Gomer Pyle - Jim Nabors hisself - and did some Gomer talk which freaked out the sergeant as Lucy exited. The same thing happened on the Lucy Show when Lucy was in a movie scene with Bob Crane. A door was opened & there, big as life, twice as cuddly, was John Banner as Sgt. Schultz who even did his classic line, "I see nuthing. Nuthing! Beautiful.
Moverfan drcrumpler 14 months ago
And Bob Crane's response was perfect--"Wrong war, Schultz!"
ww245 drcrumpler 14 months ago
Awwww, wish I'd have seen that! Sounds like a great show......
Runeshaper 14 months ago
It's truly wonderful to hear that Jim Nabors enjoyed his character on the show and his trip back to Mayberry. Thanks for sharing, MeTV!
Runeshaper 14 months ago
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madvincent 14 months ago
his last quote hit the nail on the head...........said Nabors. "I think many people don't like what they are watching today." ........WELL SAID
Zip 14 months ago
That's one reason I like Jim. Much like Alan Hale Jr. with the Skipper, he embraced his character.
Pacificsun Zip 14 months ago
I'm getting the feeling you think, maybe Robert Reed didn't embrace Mike Brady.

What's funny, is watching him in Mannix. And he's exactly the same actor he was on TBB. Except there was less to laugh about on Mannix. And instead of stellar performances, we remember him for, complaining.
Zip Pacificsun 14 months ago
I wasn't thinking of Robert Reed when I wrote that, but yeah, I guess you could say he didn't exactly embrace his character on The BB.
musicman37 Zip 2 months ago
He certainly had no qualms about revisiting Mike Brady several times, even with the other "quality" work he found later. The man has an impressive list of credits.
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