Since gracing the cover of MidWeek in April 1987, singer, actor and comedian Jim Nabors underwent a successful liver transplant and, more recently, was given the first Legacy Actors Award from Music Foundation Hawaii in March.
“That’s the first time Gomer won an acting award, that’s for sure,” he says of the character Gomer Pyle he first played on The Andy Griffith Show and later on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. “It was a great recognition and I was very appreciative of it.”
The award honors those who have made accomplishments and contributions to the arts and culture in the state of Hawaii.
“Mine has been a real interesting career in that I was able to do so many different things,” Nabors admits, noting the opportunities he had to pursue music and acting at the same time. “The nice thing about it was for 40 or so years I was never without a job.”
He went on to say he stopped doing the show Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. because he wanted to go into variety shows like his best friend, Carol Burnett. He’s had a steady career putting out records and singles, various acting opportunities and he can be seen at the opening of the Indy 500 every year singing (Back Home Again in) Indiana. However, after so many years in show business, Nabors is finishing up with a final concert this month in Pennsylvania.
“It’s been on the books for a couple years, but I had to cancel it a couple of times ‘cause of illness,” Nabors says.
No stranger to how fragile life can be, Nabors came face to face with his own mortality in the early ‘90s when his liver began failing. The experience was very difficult for Nabors - his doctors said he had two months to live and he was down to less than a week when he received a transplant. He ultimately made a complete recovery. “I’m part Mexican now,” jokes Nabors, citing his donor’s nationality, “and I love tacos. I can never pass up a taco stand now.”
These days Nabors spends his time on Maui at his Hana macadamia nut farm, in his Diamond Head home and at another in Bel Air, Calif., just taking care of business. “When you work your whole life and build up a nice estate, you have to look after it or it vanishes very fast.”
He also hopes to stay in Hawaii, saying he’s taken root. “It’s my home,” he says. “I love the weather. I love the people. I just love it here.”
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