James Thurston Nabors (June 12, 1930 – November 30, 2017) was an American actor, singer, and comedian.
He was born and raised in Sylacauga, Alabama, but he moved to southern California because of his asthma. He was discovered by Andy Griffith while working at a Santa Monica nightclub, and he later joined The Andy Griffith Show as Gomer Pyle. The character proved popular, and Nabors was given his own spin-off show, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
Nabors was known for his portrayal of Gomer Pyle, although he became a popular guest on variety shows which showcased his rich baritone singing voice in the 1960s and 1970s, including two specials of his own in 1969 and 1974. He subsequently recorded numerous albums and singles, most of them containing romantic ballads.
Nabors was also known for singing "Back Home Again in Indiana" prior to the start of the Indianapolis 500, held annually over the Memorial Day weekend. He sang the unofficial Indiana anthem almost every year from 1972 to 2014, except for occasional absences due to illness or scheduling conflicts.
Nabors died at his Honolulu, Hawaii, home on November 30, 2017, aged 87.
The United States Marine Corps released a statement on Nabors: "Semper Fi, Gomer Pyle. Rest in peace Jim Nabors, one of the few to ever be named an Honorary Marine." Second Lady of the United States and former First Lady of Indiana Karen Pence wrote a statement on Twitter: "So sad to hear about the passing of Jim Nabors. We heard him sing 'Back Home Again in Indiana' at the Indianapolis 500 countless times. We will miss his beautiful voice."
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Carol Burnett paid tribute to Nabors saying they were "close friends for 52 years. ... My heart is heavy. I’m grateful he was a large part of my life. I miss him. I love him." INDYCAR legend Tony Kanaan praised Nabors's performance of "Back Home Again in Indiana". Journalist Larry King praised Nabors as a "gentle man with immense talent" while sending condolences to his family.