‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Were Ron Howard and Jim Nabors Friends in the Years After the Show?

Ron Howard and Jim Nabors both starred on The Andy Griffith Show. However, were they friends in real-life years after the show was over?

Ron Howard as Opie Taylor, Andy Griffith as Andy Taylor, Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle
Ron Howard as Opie Taylor, Andy Griffith as Andy Taylor, Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle | Frank Carrroll/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Jim Nabors on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and its spinoff

The character of Gomer, played by Jim Nabors, was first introduced in the middle of the third season of The Andy Griffith Show. Nabors was brought onto the show after Howard McNear, who played Floyd Lawson, left the show for a little while due to some medical reasons.

All in all, Nabors appeared as Pyle in 23 episodes of the show between 1962 and 1964. The actor also went to star in his own spinoff, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., after McNear returned to the show. 

The spinoff series, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., ran from 1964 to 1969 for five seasons. Its first episode initially aired as a backdoor pilot for the fourth season of The Andy Griffith Show.

While on The Andy Griffith Show, Pyle is depicted as a naive mechanic and he provided a good amount of the show’s comic relief during the time he was on the series.

“We were going to do a show in which introduced Wally, a new character, the mechanic, and they were very careful about hiring this actor who was going to be Wally, and then one day while we were working, I was on my way someplace, and I got low on gas,” said Everett Greenbaum, a writer for The Andy Griffith Show who helped create Pyle. “And I stopped for gas, and this kind of simple-minded guy waited on me, and I said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on here. It says full, but it seems to be empty.’ And he said, ‘Well, sometimes you’ll get an F when it’s an E,’ and I thought, ‘This guy should be on the Griffith show!’”

Jim Nabors on his friendship with Ron Howard

In a 2014 interview with Indianapolis Monthly before his death, Nabors talked about a number of things, including his friendship with his The Andy Griffith Show co-star Ron Howard.

“I got a letter from him the other day, and it was the sweetest note,” said Nabors of Howard. “A very personal thing, and I was dumbfounded to get it. He was talking about how he just turned 60. See, I’ve known Ron since he was 6 years old. He wrote this letter, and he said that he was going to have a party for his 60th birthday. But it coincided with the Academy Awards, and too many of his friends wouldn’t be able to come. He said if he ever did decide to have the party, I would certainly be on the top of the list.”

RELATED: ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Almost Didn’t Snag Ron Howard In His Iconic Opie Role

He also talked about The Andy Griffith Show fans coming up to him and saying his character’s notable catchphrase, “golly.”

“Oh sure, absolutely,” he said when he was asked about being noticed. “It’s funny, I was watching a TV show, I don’t remember what it was, and it was one of those question-and-answer things. A silly show. But they said, “Where did the habit of kids wearing their hat sideways come from?” I wondered who that was, and I was the answer! It was Gomer Pyle on Andy Griffith.”