Jim Nabors still brings a lot of joy to fans of his work yet even he had to go through the ups and downs of show business. Nabors, who gained fame on The Andy Griffith Show, needed time to work on his act. After getting some of the kinks out, Nabors managed to work his way up the California coast to San Francisco.
He managed to get booked at the Purple Onion, a historic nightclub where performers worked to get in there. Nabors was on the stage singing. If you have heard Nabors’ voice before, then you know this guy could sing to the heavens. While most of the audience there appreciated his work, there was one person who didn’t approve at all.
Nabors picks up the story. “I was singing along there minding my own business when some guy in the audience stands up and says ‘Get off the stage, you big hick, and bring on the girls!’” he said, according to MeTV. By this time, Nabors had not achieved his fame just yet. He was simply looking to get his act over with the audience there.
Jim Nabors Was ‘Embarrassed’ By Heckler
“Well,” Nabors told The Buffalo News in 1963. “I was so embarrassed all I could do was stand there and look ashamed of myself. For about a minute I just looked down at my shoes and felt like crying or something. I didn’t have any smart alec thing to say to that fella, so I just stood there feeling really bad.”
“It was awfully quiet,” Nabors said. “Then some of the crowd got riled up at that man and told him to get out. Then they clapped for me and I started singing again. So everything worked out.”
Indeed it would for Nabors. It was in January 1963 that Gomer Pyle became a recurring character on The Andy Griffith Show. He was featured in an episode titled Man in a Hurry. A businessman’s car broke down outside Mayberry and he wanted it fixed quickly.
But it was on a Sunday and the gas station usually wasn’t open for mechanic work. Andy brought the man to his home after they got Gomer to try and fix the car. Ultimately, Gomer did but the busy businessman fell in love with the slower pace of Mayberry.
As the episode ends, the businessman “hears” something wrong with the car. Andy, after getting a knowing look from the businessman, tends to agree. But Gomer takes the car back to the garage, while the businessman stays overnight.
Gomer Pyle Ends Up Getting His Own Show
Gomer Pyle became such a popular character that Griffith and show producers thought of a spinoff. Thus, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. was born. The show regularly finished among the top 10 or 20 shows during its run on CBS. Griffith happened to discover Nabors when he was doing his nightclub act in the Los Angeles area. The rest, as they say, is history.
Nabors would go on to have success after his show ended. Each season, Carol Burnett would have Nabors on her show as its first guest. She even called him her “good luck charm” for the show. For a number of years, too, Nabors sang Back Home Again in Indiana at the Indianapolis 500.
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