Jim Nabors has died at age 87 after a long career that was really known for one thing: Gomer Pyle, USMC.
Nabors was 87 years and 171 days old when he died, which means he fell just short of Prime Minster Margaret Thatcher and her 87 years, 177 days. (What a comedy team they could have made!) On the plus side, he lived 20 days longer than Jonathan Winters, his fellow 1960s comedian who died at 87 years, 151 days in 2013.
Jim Nabors played a goofball Marine private for five seasons on Gomer Pyle, USMC, which ran from 1964-69. (His long-suffering sergeant was played by Frank Sutton.) His birth year of 1930 meant that Nabors was 34 when he began playing a newbie private in the Marines, but no matter: the show was a big hit. Gomer Pyle went on forever in reruns, and Nabors shrewdly had a 20% cut of syndication for the show, so he was set for life.
Jim Nabors was a natural baritone, and one of the running tricks of the show was having him stop with the hideous “golleee!” voice just long enough break into a moving ballad or spiritual that would make jaws drop and tears flow all around. It was an old gag, but a good one.
Happy trails, Mr. Nabors, wherever you may be.
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