TMZ: Jim Nabors dead at 87

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Actor and singer Jim Nabors, who starred on The Andy Griffith Show and spinoff Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

The performer's longtime partner and husband Stan Cadwallader also confirmed his death to Indiana's WTHR, who reported that he died peacefully after dealing with health problems the past couple of years. Called Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - and weekly featuring the friction between Pyle and his no-nonsense drill sergeant - the show lasted five seasons, most of which were spent as one of television's most popular programs. Pyle was a loving caricature of a Southern rube, completely out of step with the "60s and all the more lovable for it".

By night, he sang and acted in cabaret theater, where his act included a countrified character similar to Gomer Pyle.

In the early 1960s, Nabors was a regular performer at The Horn, a cabaret theater on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica that showcased new talent, when he was spotted by Andy Griffith, who thought Nabors would be flawless to play a new character on his CBS sitcom.

Of course, Jim Nabors was known for more than simply his beloved role as Gomer Pyle.

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During that time, Nabors starred in a number of variety specials for CBS including Friends and Nabors, which attracted an audience of 33.9 million, and guested on shows for Danny Thomas and the Smothers Brothers. By 1967 he was earning $500,000 annually.

Nabors later hosted his own variety show, "The Jim Nabors Hour".

During this period he toured nearly year round, reaping the benefits of his natural baritone voice, his disarming Southern-boy personality and his high name recognition from television.

After five years of "Gomer Pyle, USMC" Nabors was ready for a different challenge and left the show.

He also appeared in movies, including "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and "Cannonball Run II".

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Nabors recorded more than two dozen albums.

In 2012, Nabors underwent heart surgery; it was not his first major medical procedure. Post-graduation, Nabors was a typist for the United Nations in New York City, then became a film cutter in Chattanooga, TN.

Nabors converted to Catholicism in the mid-'60s.

Four years before his passing, Nabors came out as gay and Wednesday Cadwallader - whom he had met in 1975 - in a Seattle hotel room.

In addition to Cadwallader, he is survived by two sisters, Freddie and Ruth.

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