HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Jim Nabors, the Hawaii resident well known for his starring role in the 1960s television sitcom "Gomer Pyle, USMC," married his longtime male partner early this month, he told Hawaii News Now Tuesday.
Nabors, 82, said he married his companion of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader, who's 64, in Seattle on Jan. 15.
Nabors declined an on-camera interview but spoke to Hawaii News Now by phone.
"I'm 82 and he's in his 60s and so we've been together for 38 years and I'm not ashamed of people knowing, it's just that it was such a personal thing, I didn't tell anybody," Nabors said. "I'm very happy that I've had a partner of 38 years and I feel very blessed. And, what can I tell you, I'm just very happy."
Nabors said he and Cadwallader traveled to Washington state, where gay marriages became legal in early December 2012. They were married at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle.
A judge performed the marriage ceremony in the privacy of their hotel room with a couple of friends who live down the street from them near Diamond Head as witnesses, Nabors said.
Before they were married, Nabors said, "It's pretty obvious that we had no rights as a couple, yet when you've been together 38 years, I think something's got to happen there, you've got to solidify something. And at my age, it's probably the best thing to do."
Nabors said he met Cadwallader in 1975 when Cadwallader was a Honolulu fire fighter. He eventually went to work for Nabors and they began a relationship.
Nabors has no plan to get involved in the gay marriage debate.
"I'm not a debater. And everybody has their own opinion about this and actually I'm not an activist so I've never gotten involved in any of this," Nabors said.
His only involvement in a campaign happened last year, when Nabors recorded a radio spot for former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano's campaign for Honolulu mayor, because he's a close friend of Cayetano and his wife Vicky.
When he worked full-time in Hollywood in the 1960s and 1970s, Nabors said he was open about his homosexuality to co-workers and friends but never acknowledged it to the media until now.
"I haven't ever made a public spectacle of it. Well, I've known since I was a child, so, come on. It's not that kind of a thing. I've never made a huge secret of it at all," Nabors said.
"This is really no big deal. My friend and I, my partner, we went through all of this 38 years ago," Nabors added. "So I mean, we made our vows and that was it. It was to each other, but nevertheless, we were a couple."
Asked if he had any advice to young gays and lesbians just beginning to deal with their sexual orientation, he said: "I really don't have any advice. I don't think I'm qualified because I just could handle it my own way. And you don't ever understand what people look down on you, or say cruel things to you about that sort of thing, but nevertheless, that's just life, and you just have to get above it."
Last May, Nabors underwent open heart surgery at Queens Medical Center.
Born in Sylacauga, Alabama, Nabors attended the University of Alabama. He rose to national stardom playing a goofy gas station attendant in the television comedy "The Andy Griffith Show" from 1962 to 1964. That led to the spin-off sitcom "Gomer Pyle, USMC," in which he played the leading role, from 1964 to 1969. New audiences became familiar with him in the years that followed through re-runs of the program. He also was a regular guest on the Carol Burnett Show and hosted his own variety and talk shows in the 1970s.
A singer known for his rich baritone voice, Nabors also performed in musical theater productions in Florida, Nevada and Hawaii. For ten years, he starred in the annual production of A Merry Christmas With Friends and Nabors at Hawaii Theatre in Honolulu, ending in 2006.
Nabors said he said he knew he loved Hawaii the first time he traveled to the islands in the 1960s.
"I just walked off that plane and knew this is where I wanted to be. It was the air and the friendship and the friendliness and the people, you know. I just knew, there's something inside me that told me 'Hey, you're gonna end up here,'" Nabors said. "I love this place. I love everything about it."