Actor, comedian and singer Jim Nabors is famous for playing his signature character Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show. Before he landed that iconic role, Nabors was working at a Santa Monica-area nightclub. In fact, it was Andy Griffith himself that discovered him and offered him a role in his sitcom.
Gomer Pyle was a friendly yet obtusely unsophisticated character. He isn’t the smartest, Pyle proves to be so popular that he receives his own spin-off series, Gomer Pyle USMC.
While he is a gifted comic who plays his role well, Nabors is one heck of a baritone singing voice. Throughout the 60s and 70s, Nabors shows his skills on a handful of variety shows, including The Carol Burnett Show.
In 1965, Nabors lands a deal with Columbia Records and with numerous albums and singles, which are romantic ballads.
In 2017, Jim Nabors passed away at his home in Honolulu, Hawaii at the age of 87. Just a few years before his death, Jim revealed a secret that he had been harboring all his life. While his revelation is not surprising to many people today, he opens up about this secret years ago. He’s at the height of his Andy Griffith show fame, it will end his career.
Join Facts Verse as we discover what Jim Nabors’ big secret is and why he feels the need to keep it under wraps for so long.
Jim Nabors Rise To Fame
Jim was born in Sylacauga, Alabama on the 12th of June, 1930. His father, Fred, was a police officer, while his mother, Mavis Pearl, was a homemaker. Nabors also had two older sisters, Annie Ruth and Freddie.
As a child, he sang for his high school and church choir. After graduating from High School, he enrolled at the University of Alabama. It was in college that he began acting in skits. After finishing up his studies, Nabors moved to New York City, where he worked as a typist for the UN.
After a year, he relocates to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and works as a film cutter for the NBC-affiliate television station WRGP-TV.
As an asthmatic, Tennessee wasn’t the ideal place for Nabors to live. So, he got a new job working as a film cutter for NBC in Los Angeles. On the side, he works at a tavern in Santa Monica called The Horn, singing and acting in cabaret shows.
While working at the club, Dana notices Nabors and invites him to join the cast of The Steve Allen Show. While Nabors accepts the job, the show cancels shortly after.
Later on, Andy Griffith discovered Nabors while visiting The Horn. He only gives a one-off role as Gomer Pyle in season 3, The Andy Griffith Show, ‘The Bank Job’. But his character becomes so popular that he offers back to have a recurring role.
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Jim Nabor Married His Partner of 38 Years In 2013
Fans of The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle USMC tuned in every week eagerly awaiting the uproariously funny Jim Nabors to take the stage, but many of them had no idea that he was gay.
On January 16, 2013, Nabors marry to his long-time partner Stan Cadwallader at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle, Washington, one month after same-sex marriage legalizes in the state of Washington.
The couple had first met in the early 70s when Cadwallader was working as a firefighter in Honolulu. At first, they kept their relationship pretty low-key, but they started dating in 1975.
While Nabor’s homosexuality isn’t very exposed before this point, it isn’t entirely a secret. Many of his friends knew about it, and it had become somewhat of an open Hollywood secret. Many gay actors back in the day often got into heterosexual marriages to avoid controversy, but Nabors wasn’t one that felt the need to hide who he was from the world.
While he didn’t feel the need to go to extra lengths to stay in the closet and keep news of his sexuality from going public, he still never openly talked about it. It was pretty much one of those kinds of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ situations.
Can you imagine what would have happened if he were to have publicly come out back in the 60s while still a cast member of The Andy Griffith Show. The religious and conservative fans of the show would have turned on him in a heartbeat.
Even so, Nabors did bring Cadwallader to his performance at the Indianapolis 500 in 1978.
The Rock Hudson Rumors
In the 70s, it is famous in Hollywood that film star Rock Hudson is gay. But just like Nabors, Hudson was able to keep this knowledge from going public. In fact, he even went as far as marrying his agent’s female secretary to keep up the image that he was straight.
Suddenly, however, everything changed, and the rumor mill went into overdrive after the tabloids picked up on an inside joke between Rock and some of his gay friends. According to Hudson, the rumor originated when a band of middle-aged gay men in Huntington beach sent out joke invitations to one of their annual social events. The invitation invited folks to come out and witness ‘the marriage of Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors’. The punchline was that Hudson was going to take the surname of Nabor’s character Gomer Pyle, becoming ‘Rock Pyle’.
In 1971, the gossip rags and several radio stations start reporting that Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors are involved.
Rock and Jim denied these rumors emphatically. This was, after all, just two years after Stonewall. Rumors like these would have surely ended both of their careers.
In many US states, homosexuality remains illegal for many years, and it is still in the DSM as a mental illness.
While Rock and Jim had been close friends prior to these rumors, they had to abruptly stop spending time together to prevent the rumors from getting any worse than they already were. The two were never seen in public together ever again.
Nabors Was Mocked By ‘Andy Griffith’ Crew Members Over His Sexuality
After marrying his partner of over three decades in 2013, Nabors told Hawaii News that he had known he was gay ever since he was a child. Still, for many years he preferred to keep his personal life private. He chose to maintain a low profile while keeping his choice of partner out of his work life.
While this approach seemed to have worked out pretty well for him, that’s not to say that their weren’t some repercussions.
Ron Howard, the actor and filmmaker who played Opie on The Andy Griffith Show, has revealed in recent years that Nabor’s was oftentimes mocked and called offensive names while on the set of the sitcom.
Howard recalls that some crew members would call him things like ‘homo’ and other slurs to belittle him for his sexuality. He also added that many on set would be very cruel to Nabors behind his back.
Nabors and Cadwallader’s Private Ceremony
Speaking to Hawaii New shortly after marrying his husband, Nabors said that he wasn’t ashamed about people knowing about sexuality. Rather, he’s always just considered it a very personal thing. He went on to say that he felt blessed and happy.
Nabors and Cadwallader had traveled to Washington State just weeks after gay marriage had become legalized in December 2012. A judge performed the private marriage ceremony in the couples’ hotel room. A couple of their close friends were there as witnesses.
Nabors said that before they got married, it was clear that they didn’t have any rights as a couple even though they had been together for almost four decades. He added that at his age, getting married to solidify things was the best thing he could do.
Nabors additionally mentioned that he had no plans on getting involved in the gay marriage debate, noting that he had never been an activist.
When asked if he had any advice for young LGBT people, Nabors said that he didn’t feel qualified to do so. He did warn, however, that there would always be people that would look down on them and say cruel things. Jim chalked that up to a ‘fact of life’, saying that it was just something that you have to rise above.
After Jim Nabor’s passed away in 2017, his husband confirmed the news of his death to the AP, noting that he had been in declining health for about a year. He further pointed out that Nabors immune system had taken a hit after receiving a liver transplant 20 years prior.
Cadwallader was by Nabor’s side at their home in Hawaii when he died.
Where you a fan of Jim Nabor’s character Gomer Pyle? If so, we’d love to hear some of your favorite memories of Gomer from The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle USMC. Drop us a line in the comments with the scenes and episodes that still make you laugh to this day.
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