Jim Nabors, the iconic TV actor who played Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show and later on his own sitcom, has died at the age of 87.
According to Hawaii News Now, Nabors passed away on Thursday morning.
Gomer Pyle made his debut on the third season of The Andy Griffith Show in 1962. Originally cast for only one episode, the “addlebrained” gas station attendant became a fan favorite, leading CBS to make him a series regular. After appearing on 23 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, Nabors was given his own spin-off series, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C, in which his character joined the United States Marine Corps. During one episode of the show, he famously sang a rendition of “The Impossible Dream (The Quest)”, which sparked interest in Nabors’ musical abilities. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C ran five seasons until 1969.
In the years that followed, Nabors’ Gomer Pyle character would become a part of America’s cultural lexicon. It was the nickname given to Vincent D’Onofrio’s character Private Leonard Lawrence in Full Metal Jacket; in Forest Pump, Pyle can be heard on a TV saying, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”; and Pink Floyd sampled “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” on their track “Nobody Home” from The Wall. “Gomer Pyle” even became US Marine Corp. slang for a recruit who continually messes up or needs extra training.
Nabors also experienced success as a musician. Several of his albums achieved Gold or Platinum status and he earned a Top 20 hit in Australia with “The Impossible Dream (The Quest)”. He also regularly appeared the Indianapolis 500 to sing “Back Home Again in Indiana”.