US actor / singer Jim Nabors, best known for Gomer Pyle USMC, has died aged 87.
He died at his home in Hawaii, having been in declining health for the last few years. He had entered a hospital on Wednesday for tests and asked to be released to go home, his husband Stan Cadwallader told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
“Everybody knows he was a wonderful man. And that’s all we can say about him. He’s going to be dearly missed,” Cadwallader said.
Nabors’ break came in the early 1960s when Andy Griffith saw him in a Los Angeles cabaret – singing in a sophisticated, ear-grabbing voice and telling stories between songs in a Deep South drawl – and offered him a part on The Andy Griffith Show.
Gomer Pyle became the town’s rustic, kind-hearted gas station attendant who was given to exclamations of “golly” and “shazam” when he was impressed, as well as “surprise, surprise, surprise” and “shame, shame, shame.”
Nabors became so popular he was given his own sitcom, Gomer Pyle USMC, enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps, a show often reaching No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings. But it was a character he was unable to shake off.
After 5 years his subsequent variety show, The Jim Nabors Hour, had a two-year run.
Other TV credits and appearances included Return to Mayberry, The Danny Kaye Show, The Lucy Show, The Dean Martin Show, The Carol Burnett Show, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Muppet Show, The Love Boat and Knight Rider.
Film credits included Cannonball Run II, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and Stroker Ace.
After the peak of his entertainment career Nabors concentrated on growing macadamia nuts at his farm on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
In 1991, Nabors got a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in ceremonies attended by pals Carol Burnett, Loni Anderson, Phyllis Diller and Florence Henderson
“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.,” he once said.
“You know somethin’? I still find it difficult to believe this kind of acceptance. I still don’t trust it.”