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Passings: Jim Nabors (1930 - 2017)

by VVN Music

Jim Nabors, the star of the Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, USMC who would transition from southern drawl to near opera singing, died on Thursday (November 30) at his home in Hawaii at the age of 87.  He had been ill for a number of years.

Nabors was born on June 12, 1930 in Sylacauga, AL and began singing in both school and church. He attended the University of Alabama where he dabbled in acting before moving to New York to be a typist for the United Nations.

After a short time as an apprentice film editor in Chattanooga, TN, health problems forced him to a different environment in Los Angeles where he began working for NBC while, at the same time, working singing and acting at the local club, The Horn.  It was at that venue that comedian Bill Dana saw him and helped get him signed to The Steve Allen Show.

Unfortunately, Allen's show was soon cancelled but, on another night at The Horn, he was seen by Andy Griffith who signed him to co-star in his show as gas station attendant Gomer Pyle. He was eventually spun off into his own show which ran for five years.

On February 22, 1964, while still on The Andy Griffith Show, Nabors sang for the first time, drawing the attention of other parts of the entertainment industry. A little over a month later, he appeared on The Danny Keye Show, the first of many appearances in variety programs.

Nabors released his first album, Gomer Pyle USMC, in 1965 and followed the next year with Jim Nabors Sings Love Me With All Your Heart which was his first gold album.  He went on to release 28 albums, three of which went gold, Jim Nabors Sings (1966), Jim Nabors' Christmas Album (1967) and The Lord's Prayer (1968).

Neighbors also hosted his own variety show from 1969 to 1972.

Over the years, he made numerous appearances in TV series and film, mostly comedy except for a rare dramatic turn such as a 1973 episode of The Rookies. Among his film roles were three with Burt Reynolds in the early-80's, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Stroker Ace and Cannonball Run II.

He also remained a popular concert attraction in many areas. In 1976, Nabors and his partner, Stan Cadwallader, moved to Hawaii where he did a regular show at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

In 1994, Nabors suffered a serious case of Hepatitis B that would have killed him had not his friend Carol Burnett intervened and made arrangements for a liver transplant. After recovering, he returned to performing and became a regular fixture at the Indianapolis 500 where he would annually sing "Back Home Again in Indiana" before the start of the race. He made his last appearance at the race in 2014.

In addition to performing, Nabors also owned a macadamia plantation on Maui for 25 years.

Jim finally acknowledged his sexual orientation on January 15, 2013 when he married Cadwallader days after same-sex marriage became legal in the state of Washington.