Stars Shine on Tuscaloosa

by: 

Kathryn E. Darden
May 22, 2009

All photos ©2006 ChristianActivities.com

Shazaam! The stars shone on Tuscaloosa when Jim Nabors was inducted into the Alabama Stage and Screen Hall of Fame in Tuscaloosa this past weekend.


To the delight of the cast and audience, Nabors showed up for the Mayberry Tribute Show on Friday night and took a seat near the front of the hall. The Friday night show starred Maggie “Charlene Darling” Peterson Mancuso; two of her TV brothers, Doug Dillard and Rodney Dillard; Ronnie “Duke Slater” Schell; Barbara “Miss Bunny” Stuart; and Elizabeth “Lou Ann Poovie” MacRae.

Also appearing were Mayberry Tribute Artists, including David “Deputy” Browning, Allan “Floyd” Newsome, Kenneth “Otis” Junkin, Jeff “Howard” Branch, Paul "Ernest T." Babb, Kathryn "Flora" Darden and Jamie “Opie” Sullivan. Giving every appearance of enjoying his evening, Nabors, sang along with the Dillards, laughed at the Tribute Artists, and was one of the first to stand up for the Dillards’ standing ovation. Both Maggie Peterson (“Charlene Darling”) and Elizabeth MacRae (“Lou Anne Poovie”) sang songs dedicated to Nabors which he obviously relished.



Saturday night Nabors looked good in his tuxedo, but Barbara Stuart who played Miss Bunny on the old Gomer Pyle show said Nabors was extremely tired and that he tires very easily since his kidney transplant. He did not show his fatigue to the appreciative crowds either night except by his rapid departure after both events. However, at the gala he did talk a little about the transplant and say that actress Carol Burnette basically saved his life when he had already given up. He was days away from death when the transplant came through.

At the gala Saturday night. Nabors told a humorous true story about a woman and an airplane pilot getting entangled in an airplane bathroom by accident. The pilot was talking to Jim and not looking where he was going and opened the door which had not locked. Before the pilot realized his error, he had actually stepped INTO the lady's pants which were down around her ankles. As she quickly pulled them up, she caught the pilot in them, and they both lost their balance and fell out of the bathroom. You had to hear Jim tell it, but trust me, it was a funny story!

The rest of the cast was equally well received. “I thought Elizabeth MacRae was the cutest thing and Barbara Stuart looks as good today as she did many years ago,” claims Karen Axley of Memphis, TN. “I have to say Ronnie Schell looks like he is in his late 50’s not his mid-70’s. Wow!” Ronnie Schell was funny as always, Maggie Peterson was sweet and gracious,

High points would include the aforementioned bathroom story and the footage of Jim Nabors singing “The Impossible Dream” on and old episode of “Gomer Pyle.”

“Just to be there with Jim in the audience while he sang that (film clip) was magic,” says Axley. “That song still gives me goose bumps to this day.” Nabors stated that he has never watched that footage because he would be too critical of himself, so this was the first time he had watched himself sing that particular song.”

The other inductee into the Hall of Fame this year was Rick Bernstein, HBO Sports Executive Producer. Among those on hand to honor him were NFL analyst and former Cincinnati Bengals star Cris Collinsworth. The master of ceremonies for the entire evening was Ronnie Schell. Brett Butler performed at the conclusion of the event..

The weekend was not without its share of disappointments. The Friday night event had a few small organizational hitches, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind. A poster signed by Jim Nabors, Maggie Peterson and Barbara Stuart, which I left unguarded on my dinner table, disappeared from my table at the Saturday night gala. And the local “Production Nazi” put Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi" to shame.

However, even the flaws and personal disappointments could not diminish what was a wonderful weekend and a fitting tribute to the man who made us laugh as Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

Jim Nabors is recognized not only for his television career on "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C", but also for his numerous recordings, including several gospel albums.


Travel Tip: When in Tuscaloosa do NOT stay at the Motel 6. No towels, restricted local calls, an important phone message that was never delivered, and filthy floors were just a few of the flaws I encountered there which prevented my stay from being enjoyable.


See the event photos at

Jim Nabors Photo Gallery II!

Jim Nabors Photo Gallery I!

Gomer Pyle Comes to Tuscaloosa




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