(AP) – Jim Nabors, who played Gomer Pyle on TV’s “The Andy Griffith Show,” has died at 87.
Nabors died peacefully at his home in Hawaii on Thursday with his husband, Stan Cadwallader, at his side. He was 87.
Cadwallader says Nabors’ health had been declining for the past year. His immune system also was suppressed after he underwent a liver transplant about 20 years ago.
Nabors became an instant success when he joined “The Andy Griffith Show” in the early 1960s.
The character of Gomer Pyle, the unworldly, lovable gas pumper who would exclaim “Gollllll-ly!” proved so popular that in 1964 CBS starred him in “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”
Nabors’ operatic voice also made him a favorite in Las Vegas and other showplaces. Nabor was well known for singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” prior to the Indianapolis 500 for many years.
“Back Home Again in Indiana” is a centerpiece of the pageantry leading to the race, and Nabors sang it 36 times between 1972 and 2014. In his first rendition, he knew the tune but had to scribble the lyrics on his hand.
Nabors was born in Alabama but has said Indiana in many ways is a deep part of him.
The owners of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway said Nabors became a “Hoosier to all of us almost immediately after he began his superb performances.” The Hulman-George family said in a statement it will “never forget his genuine kindness, sincerity and loyalty.”
Nabors used to recall how some of his musician friends would brag at the number of fans at their concerts. As for himself, Nabors would say, “Oh, I had about 300,000.”