‘Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.’ Star Jim Nabors Is Dead At 87

Actor Jim Nabors, who played the ever-jovial Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show before getting his own spinoff, died on Thursday morning after reportedly battling health issues for some time. He was 87 years old.

Born on June 12, 1930, in Sylacauga, Alabama, James Thurston Nabors was discovered by Andy Griffith at the Los Angeles nightclub The Horn, where he sang and performed. He made his first appearance as the simple-minded gas station attendant-turned-auto mechanic Gomer on The Andy Griffith Show in a season three episode; he was eventually promoted to series regular before transitioning to Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. The military comedy, which ran for five seasons from 1964-1969 and spawned the catchphrase “gawwwleee,” was a huge hit. It was regularly one of the three most popular shows on television.

After Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. went off the air, Nabors hosted the variety show The Jim Nabors Hour and continued to be a regular pop culture presence. He appeared on The Carol Burnett Show, The Johnny Cash Show, The Muppet Show, and The Love Boat. (He was also in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and Cannonball Run II.) Nabors resurrected Gomer twice: in the made-for-TV movie Return to Mayberry and the short-lived Hi Honey, I’m Home!.

Nabors, who underwent a liver transplant in 1994, starred regularly at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Dome in The Jim Nabors Polynesian Extravaganza, which in the 1980s was one of the state’s top showbiz attractions. He lived in Hawaii for more than 30 years and had homes in Honolulu and Maui, where he had a macadamia nut farm. (Via)

Nabors is survived by his husband, Stan Cadwallader, whom he married in 2013.

(Via The Hollywood Reporter)