The news of Jim Nabors’ passing on November 29 at the age of 87 years old has many fans thinking back to the actor and singer’s role as Gomer Pyle on “The Andy Griffith Show” and the spin-off, “Gomer Pyle, USMC.” Nabors had reportedly been experiencing health issues for several years prior to passing peacefully at his home in Hawaii.
Although he may have been best known as a wide-eyed and gentle auto mechanic who became a naive, unlikely marine, Nabors had a rich and interesting life outside of Mayberry.
Check out five fascinating facts you probably never knew about the late Jim Nabors.
1. Childhood Health Prompted Him To Perform
As a young boy, Nabors suffered from severe asthma that kept him from playing sports. Instead, he turned to performance art, joining the glee club and taking clarinet lessons. He began acting in college, but never saw a future for himself in performing.
2. Typist Turned Film Cutter
Nabors’ first job after college was working as a typist in New York City for the United Nations. After a year, he moved back to the south. He became a film cutter in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which led to a similar job in Los Angeles. In his time off, he performed at a local nightclub where Andy Griffith discovered him.
3. Health Scare Years Ago
On a trip to India in the 1980s, Nabors contracted Hepatitis B when he cut himself shaving. In 1993, he began experiencing constant fatigue and swelling. A trip to the Mayo Clinic determined his liver was failing. After calling his sister, he called his best friend, actress Carol Burnett who helped him find a top-notch doctor and, ultimately, a new liver.
4. Finally Married (Legally, Anyway)
Nabors and his longtime partner Stan Cadwallader were legally married in 2013. Although he never “came out” to the media, Nabors stated that he was not hiding his homosexuality.
“I haven’t ever made a public spectacle of it. Well, I’ve known since I was a child, so, come on. It’s not that kind of a thing. I’ve never made a huge secret of it at all,” Nabors told Hawaii News Now. “This is really no big deal. My friend and I, my partner, we went through all of this 38 years ago. So I mean, we made our vows and that was it. It was to each other, but nevertheless, we were a couple.”
5. Life On The Nut Farm
Nabors moved to Hawaii in the 70s, where he purchased a macadamia plantation. He lived in a century-old home on the massive farm managing operations for many years before selling it to the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, a preservationist organization.