Actor and onetime Whitefish resident Jim Nabors has died.
Nabors was best known for playing Gomer Pyle on TV in the 1960s. He died Thursday at age 87.
Nabors owned a home in Whitefish on Big Mountain from the mid-1980s until 2000 and split his time between Whitefish and Honolulu for many years.
He died at his home in Hawaii after his health had declined over the past year, the Associated Press reported. His husband Stan Cadwallader was by his side when he died.
Nabors came to Whitefish on the recommendation of a friend who had visited to go skiing, he told the Pilot in an interview in 1991. He was often seen around town and folks at the time driving up Big Mountain could easily spot his home.
“I came here and immediately liked it and the people, very, very much,” he said.
While in Whitefish, the veteran actor told the Pilot, he liked to spend his time outside his house, taking in the view from one of the decks, riding his horses, fishing for trout in the stock pond, walking the grounds with his two Newfoundland dogs or just relaxing.
He eventually sold his Whitefish home opting to live in a warmer climate in Hawaii.
Nabors was on the brink of death with hepatitis B, but a liver transplant in 1994 saved his life. He apparently contracted the disease while traveling in India.
He performed at the Flathead Festival in 1995 in an appearance he called “a celebration of my life.” Among the stars to join him for the concert, were Mary Hart of “Entertainment Tonight,” Florence Henderson of “The Brady Bunch,” Karen Parks and Kay Starr.
Nabors was best known for his portrayal of Gomer Pyle on the “The Andy Griffith Show. The drawling gas pumper would exclaim “Gollllll-ly!” Nabors would also eventually star in “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”
Nabors told the Pilot in 1991 that he didn’t mind when people would come up to him on the street and request a “Gollllll-ly!”
“Oh, no,” he said. “I love doing Gomer.”
He hosted his own variety show, “The Jim Nabors Hour,” on which he was joined by guest starts, did sketches and sang. Nabors continued to perform in Las Vegas showrooms and concert theaters across the country, and he recorded more than two dozen albums.
Born James Thurston Nabors in Sylacauga, Alabama, in 1930, he was the son of a police officer. He graduated from the University of Alabama and worked in New York City for a time. In 1991, he got a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
Nabors married his longtime partner in 2013 in Washington state, where gay marriage had recently been made legal.
“I think every person on this earth has a choice of who they want to spend their life with,” he told the Associated Press at the time.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.