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Burt Reynolds ‘Deeply Saddened’ by Death of “Great Friend’ Jim Nabors

“Gomer Pyle: USMC” actor Nabors died Thursday at age 87

Burt Reynolds says he is “Deeply saddened” by the passing of his longtime friend Jim Nabors, who died Thursday at age 87.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of Jim Nabors’ passing- he was a great friend-we did several movies together,” Reynolds said in a statement given to TheWrap. “His stage debut in the Music Man at my Dinner Theatre had a tremendous response and it was basically Jim being Jim. He had a big voice and a bigger zest for life – I loved him and so did millions of others.”

Nabors, best known known for playing the good-natured if slow-witted bumpkin Gomer Pyle on “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Gomer Pyle: USMC,” worked with Reynolds on several occasions at Reynolds’ personal request. Their collaborations included Reynolds’ 1982 comedy “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” in which Nabors played Deputy Fred in, as well as cameo appearances in Reynolds’ films “Stroker Ace” and “Cannonball Run II.”

Neighbors performed as Professor Harold Hill opposite Florence Henderson in “The Music Man” at the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre in 1990.