With those words Jim Nabors captivated millions and cemented himself into the annals of popular culture as affable everyman Gomer Pyle, appearing first on The Andy Griffith Show and then spun off into his own series, the charming 1964-67 sitcom Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.. Despite the shadow of that classic character looming large over everything else that he did in his career, Nabors was so much more than the country bumpkin he is so fondly remembered for.
Born in Alabama on June 12, 1930, he first hit the scene in the early 1960s. His trademark role soon followed, but even during the height of Pyle-mania, Nabors made it clear that he wasn’t just a one-trick pony. His rich baritone voice made him a favorite of audiences in and out of showbiz, including close friend Carol Burnett, whose show he regularly was a welcome guest on. Following the end of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. in 1969, he was a staple on prime time television, providing songs and laughter to a grateful nation.
He ventured into motion pictures less frequently, though still found success in collaborations with Burt Reynolds like The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Stroker Ace, and Cannonball Run II. He was also beloved in the world of auro-racing, as his performance of “Back Home In Indiana” became forever associated with the Indianpolis 500.
Nabors died yesterday in his home of Hawaii, where he had idled away his retirement with his longtime partner/husband by his side. He leaves behind fans in all corners of the globe as well. Which is where you come in. In the comments below please share with us how Nabors touched your life, be it through his music, comedic performances or both. We’d love to hear your remembrances of this legendary performer.