Jim Nabor’s claim to fame was his Andy Griffith Show character from Gomer Pyle. For the rest of his career, despite his other talents, he would always be known to the public as Mayberry’s childish and slow-witted gas station attendant.
And as far as the actor was concerned, he was fine with that.
Nabors had no acting experience before joining The Andy Griffith Show
Griffith saw Jim Nabors perform at a nightclub and, according to Daniel de Visé’s biography, found his performance “electrifying”. Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show.
The author has also stated this Griffith show Producer Aaron Ruben recalled being impressed by Nabors’ first attempt at playing Gomer Pyle: “So here comes Jim Nabors. He has a script, he reads, and what he lacked in professionalism and experience he made up for with a certain naïve charm that he had.”
The show originally considered George Lindsey (who ended up playing Gomer’s cousin, Goober Pyle) for the role of Gomer. Griffith asked them to wait until they met Nabors before hiring Lindsey for the role.
“I played the same character at the nightclub that I did on Andy’s show,” Nabors told Allan Newsome, host of The Andy Griffith Show’s fan podcast “Two Chairs No Waiting.”
“When I first read for his show, I did the character I did for the nightclub. … My act didn’t have a point at all, but somehow it worked,” he said.
Jim Nabors had a soft spot for Gomer Pyle
Perhaps the actor was just grateful for the literal role that Gomer Pyle’s character had played in his career. So many doors had been opened to Nabors because of Gomer.
Next to his Gomer Pyle, USMC Spin-off from the Griffith showNabors performed regularly The Carol Burnett Show, hosted his own variety show and guest-starred on numerous other variety shows.
“I loved Gomer, I really loved Gomer,” Nabors told the podcast host. “I was lucky enough to play such a nice guy as he was. I’ve always really liked the character.”
Nabors, who died in 2017, added that fans frequently questioned if he ever wanted to be unrelated to Gomer. His answer was an adamant “no”.
“People always ask me if I want to be identified differently and absolutely not,” revealed Nabors. “I really enjoyed it and still do. I haven’t necessarily made my career entirely on Gomer because I’ve used so much music in my career, but I’m very blessed that I’ve had such a varied career and that I’ve had a situation comedy and the concert career and had a variety show .
“It was really wonderful because in show business you’re always sort of looking for your next job. It’s a very uncertain business and luckily I’ve never been unemployed in the last 40 years,” he said in the 1998 interview.
Frances Bavier coached Nabors on the show’s set
Nabors and Aunt Bee actress Frances Bavier were good friends, de Visé revealed as they visited antique shops together on the weekends.
Watching the actor say his lines as Gomer Pyle for the first time, Bavier assured Nabors that he would be fine: “Honey,” she told him, “the camera never misses a thing. There’s never a wink or a wink or a smile missing. I know you come from nightclubs. You don’t have to do any of that explanatory, expressive acting. Just calm down and be yourself.”
TIED TOGETHER: ‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Goober actor George Lindsey has admitted his intense jealousy towards co-star Jim Nabors
https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/jim-nabors-was-grateful-andy-griffith-show-character-really-loved-gomer.html/ Jim Nabors Grateful for His Role on ‘Andy Griffith Show’: ‘I Really Loved Gomer’