Nabors, an Alabama native, began his career as a cabaret performer in Los Angeles when he was discovered by Andy Griffith, who approached Nabors to play a new character on his eponymous sitcom in 1962. Gomer, the dim-witter mechanic, was originally slated to appear on only one episode of "The Andy Griffith Show" during its third season, but proved so popular that he went on to star in 23 installments.
His character was eventually spun off onto his own show, "Gomer Pyle, USMC," which ran for five seasons on CBS and remained one of the network's most-watched series throughout its run. Nabors ultimately decided to retire the character to pursue other acting and singing endeavors, headlining his own variety show, "The Jim Nabors Hour," for two seasons. He briefly reprised his famous role in the "Andy Griffith" reunion special "Return to Mayberry" in 1986.
Though he mostly stuck to television, Nabors dabbled in film, appearing in flicks including "Take Her, She's Mine," "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," "Stroker Ace," and "Cannonball Run II" (playing the cheekily named character Pvt. Homer Lyle). He released a platinum-selling album, "The Heart-Touching Magic of Jim Nabors," in 1980, and for many years sang "Back Home in Indiana" at the opening of the Indianapolis 500.
Nabors is survived by his longtime partner, Stan Cadwallader, whom he married in 2013 after nearly four decades together.
[via: The Hollywood Reporter]