Friday, June 13, 2008

Shazam! Happy Birthday UA Alum Jim Nabors

Jim Nabors, UA Homecoming 1968

University of Alabama alum Jim Nabors (class of 1952) was born on June 12, 1930 in Sylacauga, Alabama. Best known for his beloved character, Gomer Pyle on both the Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pile, U.S.M.C., Nabors has had a long and successful career as both an actor and singer.

Nabors with a young fan in Alabama, 1966

Jim Nabors' earliest acting experience was on the UA campus, as part of the Jason's Jamboree, where he wrote skits and performed with his Delta Tau Delta fraternity brothers. After graduating, he did head off to New York, but not for a career in show biz -- he started out as a typist for the United Nations. He then moved and took a job working in the film industry -- not in Hollywood, but rather in Chattanooga, Tennessee as a film cutter.

It was asthma that brought him west, and he started his career in Los Angeles as an apprentice film cutter, and began performing cabaret in the evenings, in a club called The Horn, which showcased new talent. His singing style and "hillbilly" monologues brought him an audition to the Steve Allen show, where he became a regular.

When Allen's show was cancelled, Nabors tried his luck in San Francisco, but in six months he was back in Los Angeles. Soon after, he auditioned for Andy Griffith -- and from there, a career was born.

Nabors has recorded over two dozen albums, has stared on TV, film, hosted his own talk show, his own variety show, and and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Jim Nabors album cover from Hoole Special Collections Library
Featured in Hear Hair Here Exhibit

Nabors is also a well-known face to racing fans -- performing the song "Back Home in Indiana" 30 times since 1972 at the Indianapolis 500, most recently this year. And back home in Alabama, U.S. Highway 280 in Talladega, Alabama is named the "Jim Nabors Highway" in his honor. He was also recently honored at University of Alabama/University of Hawaii fooball game in 2006. Though he has lived in Hawaii for many, many years, he still follows The University of Alabama football team.

Here is an example of Jim Nabors' acting -- capturing the moment when Gomer Pyle leaves Andy Griffith to join the Marines:

Here is a great example from his variety show which showcases his rich singing voice! Olé!

A very happy birthday to you, Mr. Nabors!

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