The Popcorn Stand: Appreciating Jim Nabors
Earnest Hemingway was once quoted as saying “all true stories end in death” and for this Generation Xer time marches on as those who I remember as I was coming of age continue to die. The latest icon being Jim Nabors, who died on Thursday at the age of 87.
Of course Nabors is most remembered for his role as “Gomer Pyle” in the “Andy Griffth Show” and went onto continue the role in his own show “Gomer Pyle USMC.” Much like Otis and Floyd the barber, Nabors was superb as a naive, but comical foil to Barney Fife played brilliantly by Don Knotts. And of course Andy was the straight man in the background enjoying how Gomer and others would wreck whatever plans Barney had.
One of my favorite episodes of the Andy Griffith Show was a heartwarming one in which Thelma Lou’s “homely” cousin was visiting. Thelma Lou was Barney’s girl and the big dance was coming up, so Barney with the help of Andy talked Gomer into escorting Thelma Lou’s cousin to the dance.
When Andy and Helen, Barney and Thelma Lou and Gomer and Thelma Lou’s cousin all gathered together before the dance, an embarrassed Gomer quickly bolted from the gathering. Thelma Lou’s cousin was left alone and of course Andy’s and Barney’s night was ruined because there was no way Helen and Thelma Lou wanted to dance with the way Gomer treated Thelma Lou’s cousin.
As it turned out Gomer was just embarrassed because Thelma Lou’s cousin didn’t have a corsage like Helen and Thelma Lou did. He left and returned with a corsage for Thelma Lou’s cousin and when Andy, Helen, Barney and Thelma Lou returned they were happily surprised to see Gomer and Thelma Lou’s cousin kicking up their heels in the living room.
Another wonderful episode came when Barney gave Gomer a ticket only to have Gomer turn the tables on him as Gomer ran after Barney when he made an illegal U-turn yelling “Citizen’s Arrest! Citizen’s Arrest!”
For me, Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle provided arresting television.
— Charles Whisnand