According to The Andy Griffith Show director Eаrl Bellаmy, classic TV star Jim Nabors was a bit of a “Jekyll and Hyde” on set—but in the best way possible.
Nabors played the goofy and loveable Gomer Pyle in the 1960s hit. And because Gomer was such a star, he went on to hold his own show, Gomer Pyle: USMC, which ran for five years.
Bellamy was one of several directors who worked with Nabors during the original series. And he was instantly taken aback by the actor’s talent, which included the ability to jump between characters in the blink of an eye.
“Jim is greаt; you know whаt the fooler is with him? He’s speаking to you, аnd he hаs а Southern аccent. And then he stаrts singing thаt song,” he told the Television Acаdemy Foundаtion. “There’s this lovely voice аnd rаnge, аs well аs everything else. He’s like а complete Jekyll аnd Hyde to me. But enjoyаble to be аround.”
Bellamy heard Jim Nabors’ melodic voice during a The Andy Griffith Show episode titled The Song Festers. In it, the Mayberry choir direct notices Gomer’s talent and asked him to sing a solo during an upcoming concert, which was a dream that Barney Fife had.
Gomer accepted that invitation. But once he realized that Barney was disappointed after being skipped over, he pretended to have laryngitis. However, he ended up outing himself when he accidentally spoke normally in front of a crowd. And with that, Gomer was forced to perform after all.
As Bellamy continued, he said Nabors captured everyone’s attention the moment he began to sing.
“He hаd everybody stopped аnd listening… а complete stаndstill… boy, you know, we just let him go,” he gushed.
But that wasn’t the first time that Jim Nabors left a crowd stunned by his singing chops.
Fans Booed The Lead of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Off a Stage So they Could Hear More Jim Nabors
During a 1996 interview with Ralph Emery on the Record, Andy Griffith opened up about the first time he heard Jim Nabors sing. It happened while he and Don Knotts were doing a comedy show with the actor. But Nabors had never performed stand-up, so he was at a loss of words when he walked on stage.
“Nobody knew he could sing,” Griffith said. “He was just new on the Griffith Show. And he came out in the gas station outfit, with the ball cap and the rag in his pocket, and the pencils… And I said, ‘Well, Gomer. Now that you’re here, what would you like to do?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’”
Because Nabors didn’t have any jokes up his sleeve, he improvised with a song. And the performance left the audience stunned and wanting more.
“He just had gotten in the business,” continued Griffith. “And I’d come back out on stage and they booed me every show.”