From Where I Sit
Written by Bob Tribble   
Bob Tribble

Jim Nabors Is A Nice Guy

Jim Nabors, who most remember as Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., has lived in Hawaii for the past thirty-one years. His trademark “Gawwwwl-lee” accent now roars from his 100 year old home in Diamond Head on the island of Oahu. He first began to visit the 50th state when he took vacations during the 1960’s.

Nabors has never felt trapped by a single role that made him famous, although he loved the character he did. “Gomer was probably one of the nicest people in the world,” he told Paulette Cobn who recently did a story on Nabors for American Profile.

Jim’s friend, actress and comedienne Carol Burnett, agrees that he is a nice person. “The one thing Jim has in common with Gomer is his kindness,” she told writer Cobn. “He loves people and is very gregarious.” Ms. Burnett named Jim godfather to her daughter Jody.

Nabors stays rather busy keeping watch on his many investments which includes operating a 500 acres nut and flower farm on the island of Maui that he owned for 25 years before selling it a few years ago. He wanted the land to become a park, and part of it did, with him retaining lifetime farming rights to the land. He maintains a second residence on the property.

Jim is retired from show business with the exception of singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” at the Indy 500 each year. He also attends several military events in Hawaii where he sings “The Star Spangled Banner.” Most remember his robust baritone voice that would have made him a star in the field of singing had he chosen that profession.

Jim Nabors was born in Sylacauga, Alabama in 1930 to a family that didn’t have much money. He had two sisters and his parents were Mavis and Fred Nabors.

His sister, Freddie Danehutt, who still lives in Alabama said Jim had asthma really bad when growing up but was always fun loving and was a sweet boy. Not being able to play sports, Jim turned to music singing in the church choir and high school glee club. “He would sit at home, play the piano and sing,” Freddie told Ms. Cobn.

Nabors attended the University of Alabama where he graduated with a degree in business administration. He also got his first taste of acting at college performing skits with the Delta Tau Delta fraternity.

Jim enjoyed acting but never felt he was showbiz material. “I was from a small town and God knows, I was no leading man,” he said. “You know how Hollywood was back then, everybody was a ‘hero’. I could have possibly been an actor in a Western or something, but I never had any thoughts of going into the business.”

After graduating, Nabors worked in New York for a while for the United Nations, eventually moving to Burbank, California to work for the NBC television network. He was looking for a direction in life.

Jim would play hooky from his job to perform music and comedy at The Horn in Santa Monica. Andy Griffith saw him there and brought him aboard his popular show to play Mayberry’s good hearted but dim witted mechanic. Later he began his own show, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. He really wanted to go into music and has recorded 28 albums over the years.

Nabors says he was more married to his career than anything else is the reason he never got married. He presently shares his Hawaii homes with four bull terriers named after characters from The Andy Griffith Show.

Jim was diagnosed with liver failure caused by the hepatitis B virus in 1994 and his life almost came to an end. He called his friend Burnett and told her the news. She got on the phone and called a friend who helped locate a liver that was a match for the well known Gomer Pyle.

“When you get a transplant you can’t pray for an organ because somebody has to die for you to get it,” Nabors said. “I have been a blessed man. I had a great family, a great career, and wonderful friends. If God seemed fit to take me it was OK,” he said.

When asked what he wanted on his tombstone when he died, he said, “He was a nice guy.” “I try to be a good person and a nice guy,” he concluded.