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Bill Kirby Jr.: I loved him to pieces, Lou-Ann Poovie remembers her Gomer
Updated Dec 9, 2017 at 10:39 AM
Elizabeth MacRae had a tender and poignant moment Monday, when the door bell rang.
There stood her postman with her mail, and a condolence.
He said, I'm so glad you are home, MacRae says. And then he said, I want to tell you I'm so sad to hear about Gomer.
Jim Nabors died Nov. 30 at his Honolulu, Hawaii home.
He was 87.
He was Gomer Pyle.
It makes me so sad, says MacRae, who portrayed Lou-Ann Poovie, Nabors girlfriend in Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., the CBS Television comedy that aired with 150 episodes from 1964 to 1969. I loved working with Jim. We just clicked. Aaron Ruben was our senior producer. I went to read for another part, and I was trying not to have a southern accent. But Lee Phillips, another North Carolina actor, looked in and said, My Lord, that's my favorite southern belle. Rubin said, Can you speak with a southern accent?
Could she ever.
He hired me on the spot, MacRae says about Rubin. And that was the birth of Lou-Ann Poovie. It was supposed to be a one-shot deal. I did 15 episodes. I was Gomer's girlfriend.
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. was a spin-off of The Andy Griffith Show, where Nabors was a regular, and where MacRae did one episode.
When I was making Gomer, I lost my husband to a coronary, MacRae says about the Oscar-award winning screenwriter, Nedrick Young, of the 1958 film The Defiant Ones, starring Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis. And then my little baby died. Jim's mother, Mavis, and Jim said, Come stay with us. Although MacRae says she declined their generosity, Jim was wonderful and Mavis was wonderful.
MacRae got her acting start in the late 1950s, when Otto Preminger, the late actor and director, eventually offered her a contract that would lead to television roles in Gunsmoke, Maverick, Route 66, 77 Sunset Strip, The Untouchables, Dr. Kildare, Hawaiian Eye, Bonanza, Rawhide, The Virginian and The Fugitive.
She would act along with noted episodic actors and actresses to include James Arness, James Garner, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Richard Chamberlain, Michael Landon, Robert Stack, David Janssen and Clint Eastwood.
She appeared in soap operas General Hospital, Days of Our Lives, The Guiding Light and Search for Tomorrow, as well as the 1974 Oscar-nominated film The Conversation, starring Gene Hackman and directed by Frances Ford Coppola.
Nabors had his own The Jim Nabors Hour from 1969 to 1971, and later had guest appearances and roles on such telecasts to include The Carol Burnett Show, The Johnny Cash Show, The Rookies, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show and Return To Mayberry.
His films include Stroker Ace and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
He was known, too, for his baritone singing voice, as well as the voice of Back Home Again In Indiana at the Indianapolis 500.
The thing I can say most about Jim is that he was one of the most generous people I ever knew, MacRae says. He would do concerts, and benefit to his charities.
MacRae, who grew up here and still lives in Fayetteville, says those who came up watching The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. always will remember Nabors.
I think they ll remember Gomer, she says, and for those who knew him personally, they'll remember Jim as Jim. It's so sad to think Frank Sutton, who played Sgt. Carter on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. is gone, and Jim. They were both foils for each other, and you couldn't have one without the other.
She thought back to her 15 episodes opposite Nabors.
Goma, Goma, Goma, she was Lou-Ann Poovie all over again. I loved him to pieces.
And Elizabeth Betsy MacRae always will remember Monday, when the mailman stood at her door.
You know, Jim's father was a mailman, MacRae says. He said, I want to tell you I'm so sad to hear about Gomer. I thought that was one of the nicest things.