Gomer Pyle is a character that has lived on for 55 years since Jim Nabors introduced him on the Andy Griffith Show in 1962. He played the character for 23 episodes until 1964 when the character gained his own spin-off show Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. Which ran until 1969. The star who brought the beloved and simple Pyle to life, Jim Nabors, passed away last week at the age of 87.
While many will remember Nabors for the classic quips “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise”, Shazzam!” and “Golly!” there are more who will recognize that it was his surprising singing voice that carried him through the years of life in the entertainment industry. In fact it was in Santa Monica in a tavern called “The Horn” where Nabors was singing and acting in a cabaret theatre that he was discovered by Andy Griffith and brought onto the show to perform a one-shot character.
Surprise Performance by Jim Nabors at Tuxes & Tails – April 2014
He would often sing at a variety of events, even releasing several albums, he also had a favourite tradition of singing “Back Home in Indiana” at the start of the Indianapolis 500 which he sang almost every year from 1972 until his final performance in 2014; only missing it for illness or scheduling conflicts.
At news of his passing this response was issued by the Indy 500:
For 36 years Jim Nabors sang the iconic tune Back Home Again in Indiana at the Indianapolis 500.
Learn more about the man who inspired millions every May: https://t.co/mKhWWZy7Qz
— Indianapolis Motor Speedway (@IMS) November 30, 2017
And this by the United States Marine Corps:
Semper Fi, Gomer Pyle.
Rest in peace Jim Nabors, one of the few to ever be named an Honorary Marine. pic.twitter.com/B3m3RYAbPy
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) November 30, 2017
Jim Nabors passed away in his home in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 30th.
Image from public domain by defenseimagery.mil