Jim Nabors, who became famous for his portrayal of Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show, died today at his home in Hawaii. He was 87.
Nabors is survived by his husband, Stan Cadwallader, who he married in 2013 in Washington state.
“I’m 82 and he’s in his 60s and so we’ve been together for 38 years and I’m not ashamed of people knowing, it’s just that it was such a personal thing, I didn’t tell anybody,” Nabors said in 2013. “I’m very happy that I’ve had a partner of 38 years and I feel very blessed. And, what can I tell you, I’m just very happy.”
“It’s pretty obvious that we had no rights as a couple, yet when you’ve been together 38 years, I think something’s got to happen there, you’ve got to solidify something. And at my age, it’s probably the best thing to do.”
Nabors first appeared as Gomer Pyle in the third season of The Andy Griffith Show, and he was an instant hit with audiences. He continued to play the lovable gas station attendant in the Andy Griffith spinoff, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. for five seasons.
In addition to playing Gomer Pyle, Nabors was also known for his lovely and distinct singing voice. He grew tired of the “prime-time TV grind” after Gomer Pyle, and would go onto star in children’s TV programs and performing in his nightclub shows.
He also appeared on every season premiere of The Carol Burnett Show because Burnett considered him “a good luck charm.” Musical theater fans might know him from the film adaptation of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds, where he played Deputy Fred.
In the 1970s he moved to Hawaii and bought a 500-acre macadamia ranch. He continued to do occasional television work, but admitting he was “completely burned out. I’d had it with the bright lights.”
Nabors underwent a liver transplant in 1994 after contracting hepatitis B. His health had declined in the past year, and he died peacefully today in his Hawaii home.
“Everybody knows he was a wonderful man. And that’s all we can say about him. He’s going to be dearly missed,” said Cadwallader.