Jim Nabors, who rose to fame playing bumbling, wide-eyed gas-station-attendant-turned-Marine Corps recruit Gomer Pyle on two of the most popular TV programs of the 1960s, died Thursday at his home in
Nabors recorded several albums while at the same time becoming a variety- and talk-show staple throughout the Seventies, even hosting his own series, The Jim Nabors Hour. He also made occasional appearances on the Grand Ole Opry and on TNN, the Nashville Network. Nabors often made trips to Nashville as a guest of his longtime friend, the late Sarah Cannon – a.k.a. country comedian Minnie Pearl.
Although Nabors lived in Hawaii for several years, where he had a macadamia nut farm, it was Indiana native Florence Henderson (of Brady Bunch fame) who first got him one of his steadiest gigs, singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” at the annual Indianapolis 500 race, which he did from 1972 until 2014, missing just one year, 2012, due to heart surgery.
In addition to television, Nabors appeared in a handful of Burt Reynolds’ films, including Cannonball Run II and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the latter of which co-starred Dolly Parton.