Entertainer Jim Nabors, 87, a talented singer but probably best remembered for his acting role as Gomer Pyle in The Andy Griffith Show, which led to the spinoff hit series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., has died. I have always been shocked at his age because he always appeared much younger than his chronological age.
He was already well into his thirties when he first appeared on the Griffith show but obviously played a much-younger character.
Nabors was from Alabama and was known to be a private individual. Long rumored to have been gay, he came out a number of years ago. He married Stan Cadwallader in Washington state, where gay marriage was legal, back in 2013. He had suffered from liver problems in the 1990s, eventually getting a transplant. According to Cadwallader, Nabors had been in bad health for the past year.
Offstage, Nabors retained some of the awed innocence of Gomer. At the height of his fame in 1969, he admitted, "For the first four years of the series, I didn't trust my success. Every weekend and on every vacation, I would take off to play nightclubs and concerts, figuring the whole thing would blow over some day.
"You know somethin'? I still find it difficult to believe this kind of acceptance. I still don't trust it."
After the end of his variety show, Nabors continued earning high salaries in Las Vegas showrooms and in concert theaters across the country. He recorded more than two dozen albums and sang with the Dallas and St. Louis symphony orchestras.
During the 1970s he moved to Hawaii, buying a 500-acre macadamia ranch. He still did occasional TV work, and in the late 1970s, he appeared 10 months annually at Hilton hotels in Hawaii. The pace gave him an ulcer.
A 2014 performance in Indiana: