Surprise, surprise, surprise! Gomer Pyle finally got married at age 82–or at least his alter-ego, Jim Nabors, did.
In a stereotype-breaking scenario, Nabors and his partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader, flew to Washington shortly after same-sex marriage was legalized there and tied the knot. The fact that their relationship is a show-business one, that it has spanned almost four decades, that they married as soon as it was possible, and that Mr. Cadwallader is a former Honolulu firefighter all defy typical preconceptions of such a longtime union.
In case anyone missed the perpetual reruns, actor Jim Nabors achieved fame as the guileless, irrepressibly cheerful gas station attendant, Gomer Pyle, on “The Andy Griffith Show” in the 60s, then carried on with the role for five seasons in “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” Afterward, he became a favorite on variety shows such as “The Carol Burnett Show” and performed in musical theater, due to his full, baritone singing voice.
Nabors’ marriage ceremony was small and private, held in the couple’s room at Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel on January 15th. Soon after he and his spouse returned to their home on Oahu, he declined to appear on camera, but gave a phone interview to “Hawaii News Now” that can be heard here, along with brief clips from his old TV show:
The actor does not consider himself part of the debate about same-sex marriage, but neither has he ever hidden his sexual identity. He told the station that while this was the first time he acknowledged his homosexuality to the media, his friends and co-workers in Hollywood always knew. He commented on the situation before he and Cadwallader were married:
“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. And at my age, it’s probably the best thing to do…
“I’m 82 and he’s in his 60s and so we’ve been together for 38 years and I’m not ashamed of people knowing, it’s just that it was such a personal thing, I didn’t tell anybody. I’m very happy that I’ve had a partner of 38 years and I feel very blessed. And, what can I tell you, I’m just very happy.”
Shazam, Jim Nabors! You may not think of yourself as a role model, but obviously you’ve conducted your relationship with a dignity and integrity that the rest of us would do well to emulate. Congratulations and long life to the happy couple.