Jim Nabors loved returning to his most iconic role
Nabors was proud to come back to Gomer Pyle in the made-for-TV reunion.
Some actors loathe the character they become most associated with. Fears of typecasting cause many of 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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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.
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)
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.
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.