After Gomer Pyle, Jim Nabors became a nut farmer in Hawaii and needed a life-saving liver transplant
From his first appearance on The Andy Griffith Show to his own spinoff series, Jim Nabors will always be associated with the naive, lovable Gomer Pyle.
Nabors played the character for several years, solidifying his name in Hollywood history during some of the greatest years of television across the board.
In 1975, The Sacramento Bee reported that Nabors had to put up with the repercussions of playing such a lovable, yet innocent character like Gomer Pyle wherever he went. Like so many famous actors, sometimes fans and viewers can't see beyond the TV screen and beyond the character in real life.
"He was never stupid," Nabors said of his famous character. "But people didn't understand that. They would come up to me and say, 'Boy, are you stuuuupid!'" For reasons like this and because Nabors had always thought of himself as an all-around entertainer, more than just an actor, he left Gomer, Pyle U.S.M.C. after five seasons, despite strong ratings.
The freedom allowed Nabors to do more of what he wanted. "I do a little dancing, and a little singing. A little acting and a bit of joking. Television is mah fay-vor-right thing but public ay-peerances are most ee-go-satisfyin," he's quoted as saying in The Sacramento Bee, depicting his southern accent.
Part of what he wanted following Gomer, Pyle U.S.M.C. was a simpler life, evident by his relocation in 1976.
According to an article from Chattanoogan, Nabors moved to Hawaii, perhaps for obvious reasons such as year-round good weather, but he also found a new calling. After his move off the mainland, he "later purchased a 500-acre farm on Maui and became a successful macadamia nut farmer," the article states.
Years later, Nabors was just as content with his farming habits. He was still in Hawaii in 1995, when he attended Carol Burnett's opening night on Broadway in Moon Over Buffalo. According to a Newsday newspaper article, Nabors flew all the way from Hawaii to see his best friend Burnett.
That came after a challenging and scary time for Nabors. In 1994, he needed a life-saving liver transplant as a result of hepatitis B. According to an Associated Press article from 1994, Nabors contracted hepatitis B several years prior to his transplant while he was out of the country.
"I really wasn't sick," Nabors said in the AP article. "I just thought I was tired... I went to the doctor and they discovered that my liver wasn't working anymore."
By the time of Burnett's show on Broadway in 1995, Nabors had "completely recovered" from the life-saving transplant.
Nabors, when asked if he'd ever return to the bright lights of Hollywood and re-ignite his acting career said, "Nope, I'm into nuts. I raise macadamia nuts in Hawaii and that's good enough for me."