The son of Mavis and Fred Nabors, Jim was born and raised in Sylacauga, Alabama, where he first began singing in his high school's glee club and church choir.
A show business career was soon set aside when Jim entered the University of Alabama to major in business administration. He got his first taste of acting at the Jason's Jamboree, a Greek skit show in which he performed as a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity. Upon graduation, he moved to New York and worked as a typist for the United Nations.
After a year, he decided to return to the south and worked as a film cutter in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Still suffering from childhood asthma, he was advised to move west. He moved to Los Angeles and got a job as an apprentice film cutter at NBC.
At nights, he performed at "The Horn" in Santa Monica, a then-popular Santa Monica nightclub. Comedian Bill Dana saw Jim and invited him to audition for Steve Allen's TV variety show, appearing a number of times. Deciding to try his luck in San Francisco, he performed at The Purple Onion, another showcase for new talent. After six months, he decided he might do better back in Los Angeles.
Soon after he returned to Los Angeles and "The Horn", Andy Griffith saw him and asked Jim to audition for the part of a bumbling gas station attendant, Gomer Pyle. Jim's career took off like a skyrocket. The show ran a solid five seasons and Jim became a beloved household name. Following this he recorded easy listening albums with five going gold and one platinum.
"In 1971, a bizarre rumor circulated that [Rock] Hudson had secretly 'married' Jim Nabors, another closeted homosexual; though Hudson's career was not affected, Nabors's was ruined."
(from: Westfahl, Gary. "Rock Hudson", in Gay & Lesbian Biography. St. James Press, 1997. p. 232)
Jim's unique career has included all aspects of the entertainment industry and earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991.
Jim's career took a serious hit in 1994 when, after years of ill health, he was forced to have a liver transplant. He briefly interrupted his personal appearance schedule when he became a permanent resident in Hawaii. He has returned to the limelight but only in spurts, enjoying the relaxing life he has in Hawaii running a macadamian nut plantation and raising tropical flowers on his ranch in Hana, Mauii.
After a few years' absence from the Nevada entertainment scene, Jim returned to Las Vegas and performed before capacity crowds in the Bal Du Moulin Rouge revue at the Las Vegas Hilton. He also starred in the "Razzle Dazzle" ice skating revue at the Reno Hilton where he again broke house records. Jim has since performed in the spectacular "Hello Hollywood Hello" at Bally's in Reno as well as engagements at Harrah's in Reno, Lake Tahoe and Atlantic City
His movie career includes The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas with Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton. In Stroker Ace, he was Burt's ace mechanic and Loni Anderson's confidant. He also had a cameo role in the star studded production of The Cannonball Run II.
His first movie for TV was a sentimental and nostalgic project as it reunited him with many of the original members of the cast of "The Andy Griffith Show" for "Return to Mayberry" which remains one of the highest rated TV movies in history.