Actor, comedian, and singer Jim Nabors, known for portraying the cheerful Gomer Pyle in The Andy Griffith Show, has died Thursday morning at the age of 87. His husband, Stan Cadwallader, confirmed the news to the Associated Press that Nabors died at their home in Hawaii.
Nabors’ husband addressed that the Gomer Pyle: U.S.M.C. actor had been in failing health for a year, which started to diminish after he had a liver transplant 20 years ago. The Alabama native was best known for his role as Gomer Pyle, a gas station clerk, that debuted on The Andy Griffith Show in 1962, which eventually landed a spin-off show Gomer Pyle: U.S.M.C., due to the character’s popularity. The catchphrases “Shazam!” and “Golly!” were a fan-favorite of Nabors’ role as Gomer Pyle.
“It got down to what you think you want to be, an actor or an entertainer. I want to entertain,” Nabors’ said in 1969, when he decided to retire Pyle’s gear. “I don’t think I’m much of an actor. The only part I ever played was Gomer. I’m the most surprised person around that I’m successful anyway.”
Nabors was discovered singing in a cabaret theater in Santa Monica, California. He recorded more than two dozen albums, with at least four of them certified gold by the RIAA. One of those was a Christmas album, Jim Nabors’ Christmas Album, which topped the holiday albums chart in 1967.
On the big screen, Nabors appeared in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Stroker Ace, and Cannonball Run II. He also appeared in The Carol Burnett Show, The Love Boat, and The Julie Andrews Hour on television.
Some celebrities took to Twitter to express their condolences.
I was private Pyle in FMJ @StanleyKubrick film. My character was written w/this name becuz of the iconic character the wonderful actor Jim Nabors took off the page &made a household name when I was a kid.I hve nothing 2do w/this name&Jim Nabors has everything2do w/it. An Original pic.twitter.com/SGn5UW4SyC
— Vincent D’Onofrio (@vincentdonofrio) November 30, 2017
Jim Nabors was gentle man with immense talent. Condolences to his husband Stan and family.
— Larry King (@kingsthings) November 30, 2017
“Jim and I remained close friends for 52 years. He was the godfather of my daughter, Jody. Every year he was always the first guest on my variety show. I considered him my ‘good luck charm.’ My heart is heavy. I’m grateful he was a large part of my life. I miss him. I love him,” Carol Burnett said in a statement.
Nabors is survived by his husband, Cadwallader, and his two sisters, Freddie and Ruth.