Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Dance Party: Don't Tell Lou Ann

Lou Ann Poovie was Gomer Pyle's girlfriend in
the series. We now know why they never got
further than holding hands.
Coming short on the heels of the "so what?" coming out of Victor Garber, this week's Dance Party star finally confirmed the rumors he's been ducking his entire career.
Don't ask, don't tell.
Jim Nabors has faded from view in recent decades;  it seems like no one has seen nor heard from him much since he was a part of Burt Reynolds's ad hoc rep company, appearing in several forgettable films in the 1980s. 
Nabors worked with Burt Reynolds in Cannonball II,
Stroker Ace, and Best Little Whorehouse... in the mid-80s.
They ended Jim's film career.

He has spent most of the past few decades living quietly in Hawaii, with his partner of 38 years, a former firefighter who is 15 years his junior.  But back in the 1960s and 70s, Nabors was a recognized celebrity with what must be described as an open secret.
Their gay-themed prank exploded. The annual party of middle-aged gay men of Huntington Beach announced the planned wedding of Rock Hudson and "Gomer Pyle," after which Hudson would become known as Rock Pyle. Somebody blabbed about the gag, and rumors circulated that the two were actually a couple.  Both men scurried back into the closet and never spoke to each other again.
I remember the rumors which were repeated about Jim and Rock Hudson, as a couple no less!  There doesn't seem to be much evidence that those two stars ever had a relationship (we now know Hudson was into blond boytoys), though they lived close to each other at the beach and apparently were friends.  
Hudson, Nabors, and flame dame Burnett, before the
glitter hit the fan.

The story goes that, as a joke, Jim and Rock invited all their gay friends to a mock wedding between Hudson and Gomer Pyle.  The stunt did not remain as private as the two stars may have wished, and it gave way to those rumors of an actual romance between the two stars.  Nabors now claims that he never hid his homosexuality, but that does not ring quite true to my memory of the time.  No matter, it's terrific that he has now married his partner.
Certainly best known for his title role in Gomer Pyle, USMC, the show was one of a number of rural-themed sitcoms of the mid-60s.  Producers were granted use of military sites and equipment, in hopes the show's upbeat tone would improve the image of the Marine Corps.  Despite taking place at the height of the carnage in Vietnam, the war was never mentioned.
I confess that Jim Nabors was not a particular favorite of mine, but I certainly watched him during his sitcom years. 
Nitwit Gomer first worked at "the fillin' station"
in The Andy Griffith Show's Mayberry.
Somebody smelled a spinoff.

Gomer Pyle, USMC showcased his downhome persona quite well, but I never got used to the occasions when his country hick accent would give way to the operatic singing voice. 
When goofball Gomer started to sing, it was a bit

Jim had a rich baritone voice, but seeing that voice come out of the Gawlee facial expressions of Gomer Pyle gave me the willies.
Carol Burnett and her good luck charm, who guested on her first show every season.
This week's Dance Party comes from Gomer Pyle, but it just as easily could have come from the TV series helmed by the other star of this clip.  Carol Burnett maintained a lifelong friendship with Nabors;  he appeared as a guest on the first episode of her variety series, and she considered him a good luck charm, resulting in his appearing in the first episode of all eleven seasons of her show. 

She guested on his sitcom several times, in episodes which always included musical sequences.  Despite the annoying choice of songs in this medley (I'm not a fan of rounds), I enjoy the easy chemistry between the two stars.  In honor of Jim Nabors and his recent marriage, enjoy! 

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