Jim Nabors, whose rendition of "Back Home Again in Indiana" became an Indianapolis 500 fixture for more than four decades, has died at 87.
Over the years, Nabors continued appearing regularly in local theaters, until he was discovered by a fellow comedian who put them on a variety show. The role was going to be a one-off, popping up in a single episode of season three of "The Andy Griffith Show".
"Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." saw the character leaving Mayberry to join the Marines.
He also appeared in movies, including "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and "Cannonball Run II".
As a singer, Nabors released 28 albums, according to his official website.
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In 1991, Nabors got a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame in ceremonies attended by pals Carol Burnett, Loni Anderson, Phyllis Diller and Florence Henderson.
He is survived by his husband.
Nabors was an authentic small-town Southern boy, born James Thurston Nabors in Sylacauga, Alabama, in 1930, son of a police officer.
The owners of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway said Nabors became a "Hoosier to all of us nearly immediately after he began his superb performances".
"It's pretty obvious that we had no rights as a couple, yet when you've been together 38 years, I think something's got to happen there, you've got to solidify something", Nabors told Hawaii News Now at the time. Nabors was open with friends about his sexual orientation but chose not to go public with it before the couple Wednesday. "It's not that kind of a thing". Well, I've known since I was a child, so, come on.
"I've never thought of (the audience reaction) as relating to me", Nabors said. In the U.S., Nabors musically associated with "Back Home in IN", which he sang at the start of every Indianapolis 500 race from 1972 until 2014.