He is an actor and singer born James Thurston Nabors
in Sylacauga, Alabama. He
began singing in church and while he was at high school and then began
acting when he was studying at the University of Alabama.
Instead of moving straight into the entertainment
business after he graduated, he moved to New York and went to work for the
United Nations as a typist. A
year later he relocated to Chattanooga, Tennessee and got his first taste
of working in television when he secured a job as a film cutter.
As he was an asthmatic he decided to move to the
better climate of Los Angeles, California, and began film cutting for
NBC. At the same time, he
worked at The Horn tavern in Santa Monica at night. He acted and sang with the cabaret
there and after being spotted was signed to The Steve Allen Show
which was unfortunately cancelled before too long. He was also spotted by Andy
Griffith and signed to appear in one of his shows as the character Gomer
Pyle. He was such a hit that
he became a regular on The Andy Griffith Show and eventually got his
own spin-off series, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. The show ran for 5 seasons before being cancelled by
In 1964 he made an appearance on The Danny Kaye
Show and this time it was his singing rather than acting that was
noticed. It brought him enough
recognition to be awarded a recording contract and several successful
recordings ensued as well as a busy concert schedule. In 1966 he achieved his first gold
record with the album Jim Nabors Sings Love Me With All Your Heart. This was equalled in 1968 with the
gold album Jim Nabors Sings The Lord’s Prayer.
In 1969 he began presenting his The Jim Nabors Hour
and after it was cancelled in 1971 he began touring with his own
roadshow. Never getting away
from his Gomer Pyle type character he made appearances on children’s TV and
began a regular annual appearance on the first show every season of The
Carol Burnett Show, where he was called a “good-luck charm”.
In 1973 he appeared in a straight role in The
Rookies, but going back to his variety show preference he began
presenting his The Jim Nabors Show in 1977. He gained an Emmy nomination for
the show even though it only lasted for a year. During the 1970s he also began his yearly tradition of
singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” prior to the Indianapolis 500.
Becoming disillusioned with the television work he decided
to head for the stage and toured as a member of the cast of Man of La
Mancha where he became known for his rendition of “The Impossible
Dream”. It wasn’t too long
before he was wooed back to the TV to work in the series The Lost Saucer.
In 1976 he moved from California to Hawaii where he
bought a macadamia nut plantation and started the show The Jim Nabors
It ran for two years before he left the limelight for several years
until appearing in the Moulin Rouge show in various Nevada locations. He also appeared in The Music
Man at the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theater.
The 1980’s came along in style when he won a platinum
album for his The Heart Touching Magic of Jim Nabors. He also ventured into movies in the
1980s he appeared in three films starring his friend Burt Reynolds. He then appeared in the TV movie Return
to Mayberry where he got back together with other previous co-members
of The Andy Griffith Show.
As with the success at the beginning of the previous
decade, he achieved a gold album with his Jim Nabors’ Christmas Album
in 1990. Just a few years
later though, he had to have a liver transplant after contracting hepatitis
B while on a trip to India.
This didn’t slow him down for too long though as he began nationally
touring again before the new millennium. He also starred in his A Merry Christmas with Friends
and Nabors in Honolulu, which ran until 2006.
Often recognised for his work in the entertainment industry,
he had a star awarded to him on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991 and he
became an inductee into the Alabama Stage & Screen Hall of Fame in
2006. He has also been
honoured by the University of Alabama, the University of Hawaii and the
Hawaii Pacific University.