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Jim Nabors dies at 87


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And there goes another big chunk of my childhood.  I probably saw every episode of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. multiple times when I was a kid.  And it was a delight to me every time he appeared on The Andy Griffith Show.  He seemed like such a kind man.  He had a long life, but I wish he could have stuck around longer.  I think he was close to Carol Burnett.  You all probably know that he was her special guest star every year for the season premiere of The Carol Burnett Show.  She called him her good luck charm.

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Jim was the most unlikeliest of stars.  He's so remembered for Andy Griffith that I was surprised (according to imdb) that he was on only 23 of the 64 season 3&4 episodes before "Gomer Pyle USMC" was launched in 1964, concurrent to, and out-ranking The Andy Griffith Show's 5th (and IMO BEST) season, the last with Don Knotts.   "Gomer" was a surprise hit in a less-than-stellar time slot:  Friday at 9:30.  A ratings-disaster lead-in "The Entertainers" and up against "Jack Benny" when he returned to NBC for one season.   "Gomer" ran for 5 seasons and only ceased because Jim wanted to do something else, a variety show.   Little known fact:  if you tally season-by-season Nielson rankings and divide by number of seasons the show ran, "Gomer" was the MOST SUCCESSFUL SITCOM OF THE 60'S!!!     Here are the tallies by my math:

"Gomer Pyle USMC"'s 5 year average ranking  :   #4  In fact, Gomer would have been much higher had CBS not moved it to Wednesday for its 3rd season where it  "dipped" to #10.  The next year they moved it back to Friday and the ratings rebounded.   Amazingly "Gomer" ended its 5 year run at #2 behind "Laugh-In".  If we exclude the Wednesday season from the equation, for the 4 remaining seasons "Gomer"'s average ranking was #2.5.  (2nd only to ILL's #1.5 average).   It must have Jim's personal appeal and likeability because, truth be told, they were running out of Pyle v. Carter plots, especially when it aired in its later seasons concurrent to the height of the Vietnam war.    His subsequent variety series "The Jim Nabor Hour" debuting right after "GP" started out strong at #12  for 69-70, but the next season 70-71 with strong competition from the first season of "The Flip Wilson Show" it dipped to a still respectable #29 (sound familiar?) and was axed as part of the CBS rural purge when the networks were forced BY THE GOVERNMENT to give up a half hour of their prime time schedule. 

Season average ranking after Gomer,  "The Lucy Show" and  "The Andy Griffith Show" tie at  #4.5.. TLS, TAGS and GP were the only 60s sitcoms that place in the top ten for every season

"Beverly Hillbillies" (ratings through 69-70 only)  #8 .  Though it spent two years at #1, it was out of the top ten for 3 of its 60s seasons. 

Though "Gomer" had a healthy 2 1/2 year run as part of CBS's M-F daytime sitcom rerun schedule, it never joined the ranks of 'classics" in the same way "Andy Griffith" did.  (Then again, neither did TLS). 

Checking imdb:  I did not know that Jim had a talk show in 1978.    Worth noting is that when Carol came back with her "Life with Lucy" return to TV variety in 1991, Jim, no long a draw on TV, was NOT her first guest as he had been on all 11 "CBShow" seasons, but rather was introduced from the audience. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow, great analysis!  Gomer Pyle USMC was so incredibly popular back in the day, it surprises me it hasn't lived on the way TAGS has.  I caught a few reruns a couple years ago and still found it to be a fun show.  I don't really remember it from its original airings, but it was very heavily rerun during the '70s when I was growing up.  I was still seeing regular reruns in the early '80s when I was in college.  After that it seemed to fade away.

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