Jim Nabors, the beloved actor-singer who starred as deputy sheriff Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show and headlined the spinoff, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., has died. Nabors passed away at age 87 at his home in Hawaii on November 30, according to a report by Deadline. Nabors’ husband, Stan Cadwallader, confirmed his death to the Associated Press, revealing that the actor had been in failing health for a year. Jim Nabors had a liver transplant 20 years ago.
Nabors may have been best known for his cheerful sitcom persona and signature “Gollllleee,” but he was also an accomplished singer, recording more than two dozen albums with a deep voice that was worlds apart from his TV twang. Nabors also regularly sang “Back Home in Indiana” at the Indy 500, logging his final performance in 2014.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Nabors was originally signed for just one episode of The Andy Griffith Show in December of 1962, but the Gomer Pyle character proved to be so popular that Nabors went on to appear in 23 more episodes of the series. When Gomer joined the U.S. Marines, the story served as the pilot for the Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. spinoff, which aired for five successful seasons on CBS. Nabors later went on to star in The Jim Nabors Hour, which lasted two seasons, and in the 1970s series The Lost Saucer. Jim even hosted his own syndicated talk show.
On the personal front, Jim Nabors married his partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader, in Washington in 2013. The couple tied the knot one month after gay marriage became legal in that state. Nabors also has a highway named after him, “Jim Nabors Highway” in his hometown of Sylacauga, Alabama.
While Jim Nabors left Alabama for Hawaii decades ago, he will always be remembered as a beloved friend and superstar to many. After Jim’s death was announced, longtime friend Carol Burnett issued a statement to the Hollywood Reporter about the loss of her friend.
“Jim and I remained close friends for 52 years,” Burnett said in a statement to THR. “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.”
In addition, many celebrities took to social media to remember one of Hollywood’s good guys, including fellow singer Gloria Gaynor, who wrote, “My thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of actor and singer Jim Nabors… he created the character Gomer Pyle who was loved by millions around the world.”
Sean Astin, Roseanne Barr, Larry King, and more also paid tribute to Jim Nabors on Twitter. You can read celebrity reactions to Jim Nabors’ death below.
Watch Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle with sidekick Carol Burnett in the video below.