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updated: 11/30/2017 3:16 PM

Jim Nabors, mighty voice of the Indianapolis 500, dies at 87

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  • FILE - In this May 25, 2014 file photo, Jim Nabors waves to fans after singing before the start of the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 IndyCar auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis. Nabors died peacefully at his home in Honolulu on Thursday with his husband Stan Cadwallader at his side. He was 87.

    FILE - In this May 25, 2014 file photo, Jim Nabors waves to fans after singing before the start of the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 IndyCar auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis. Nabors died peacefully at his home in Honolulu on Thursday with his husband Stan Cadwallader at his side. He was 87.
    Associated Press

  • FILE - In this May 7, 1992 file photo, Jim Nabors, a cast member from "The Andy Griffith Show," appears in Nashville, Tenn.  Nabors died peacefully at his home in Honolulu on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, with his husband Stan Cadwallader at his side. He was 87.

    FILE - In this May 7, 1992 file photo, Jim Nabors, a cast member from "The Andy Griffith Show," appears in Nashville, Tenn. Nabors died peacefully at his home in Honolulu on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, with his husband Stan Cadwallader at his side. He was 87.
    Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Jan. 31, 1991 file photo, actor Jim Nabors, front row center, best known for his role as television's Gomer Pyle on "The Andy Griffith Show," poses with actresses, from left, Phyllis Diller, Carol Burnett, Florence Henderson, Ruth Buzzi and Loni Anderson at a ceremony honoring Nabors with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. Nabors died peacefully at his home in Honolulu on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, with his husband Stan Cadwallader at his side. He was 87.

    FILE - In this Jan. 31, 1991 file photo, actor Jim Nabors, front row center, best known for his role as television's Gomer Pyle on "The Andy Griffith Show," poses with actresses, from left, Phyllis Diller, Carol Burnett, Florence Henderson, Ruth Buzzi and Loni Anderson at a ceremony honoring Nabors with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. Nabors died peacefully at his home in Honolulu on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, with his husband Stan Cadwallader at his side. He was 87.
    Associated Press

 
 

HONOLULU -- Jim Nabors, whose rendition of "Back Home Again in Indiana" became an Indianapolis 500 fixture for more than four decades, has died at 87.

Husband Stan Cadwallader said the actor best known as the television star Gomer Pyle died Thursday at home in Hawaii after his health had declined for the past year.

"Back Home Again in Indiana" is a centerpiece of the pageantry leading to the race, and Nabors sang it 36 times between 1972 and 2014. In his first rendition, he knew the tune but had to scribble the lyrics on his hand.

Nabors was born in Alabama but has said Indiana in many ways is a deep part of him.

The owners of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway said Nabors became a "Hoosier to all of us almost immediately after he began his superb performances." The Hulman-George family said in a statement it will "never forget his genuine kindness, sincerity and loyalty."

Nabors used to recall how some of his musician friends would brag at the number of fans at their concerts. As for himself, Nabors would say, "Oh, I had about 300,000."

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