At Jim Nabors’ sprawling Diamond Head beachside retreat, photos with silver screen legends such as Debbie Reynolds and Carol Burnett are scattered throughout his house, revealing a glimpse into Hollywood’s glamorous past.
In one framed photo, Nabors stands in a crowd with TV stars Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke and Bea Arthur, to name a few.
But the man who has starred in television and films, recorded numerous albums and headlined a show in Vegas for 35 years says the enormity of his fame still hasn’t hit him.
“I just never think of that,” he says. “It was just a lot of fun work, and I felt very blessed to be able to do that.”
He credits his humbleness to having his family alongside him his whole career – especially his mother, who lived with him until her passing.
“She was quite remarkable,” he says.
Though Nabors, who appeared on MidWeek‘s April 15, 1987, cover, has been taking the time to “just kind of lean back now,” he isn’t slowing down entirely. This year, he still plans to travel in May to the Indianapolis 500 to sing Back Home Again in Indiana to open the race.
It is a tradition that began 42 years ago, when Nabors was approached at the last minute to sing the song in front of a crowd of approximately 500,000. Popular among those who grew up watching him on TV (as Gomer Pyle), Nabors became a mainstay for the race.
“They always give me a great reception,” he says.
Aside from what will be his final performance at the Indy 500, Nabors no longer is acting and singing.
Last year, he quietly married longtime partner Stan Cadwallader in Seattle. The two have been together 39 years now, having met initially through friends.
“It’s just been grand,” he says. “If you can find your best friend in life, you better stick to ’em; you got to hang on.”
The duo serves as event chairmen for this year’s Tuxes & Tails, Hawaiian Humane Society’s annual gala, April 5 at The Royal Hawaiian. All proceeds from “Bow Wow to Hollywoof: A Night at the A-CAT-emy” will go to HHS.
The event, in which Nabors and Cadwallader previously have participated, is of personal interest for the owners of dogs Daisy, Candy and Jimbo.
“We were poor, but we always had dogs,” Nabors recalls of his childhood. In the meantime, Nabors, who successfully underwent Hawaii’s first heart valve procedure a couple of years ago at The Queen’s Medical Center, notes that he says his prayers daily.
“I’m very blessed to have all the friends I’ve had and success,” he says. “So I really have not taken it lightly, and I thank God every day.”