Jim Nabors at Sikeston Rodeo

Jim Nabors had just established his identity as Gomer Pyle of the TV show Gomer Pyle USMC when he appeared at the Sikeston Rodeo in 1965. The Missourian ran a brief promo for his appearance, but I couldn’t find that any of these photos ran. The only thing I saw was some kids chasing a pig.

That might be because the paper liked to pretend that TV didn’t exist in that era.

Official Jim Nabors website

The official Jim Nabors website said he got his start acting in a fraternity skit. After graduating from the University of Alabama, he worked as a typist as the United Nations. After a year in New York, he moved back to the south and worked as a film cutter in Chattanooga, TN.

He moved out to California, thinking it might be better for the asthma he had suffered since a child. While out there, Andy Griffith saw him performing a standup routine and asked him to audition for his signature role as Gomer Pyle, the bumbling gas station attendant.

Nabors a man of many talents

In the course of his career, Nabors had a number one rated situation comedy, a top ten variety show, a talk show and several television specials, a recording career, acted in movies for the big screen and TV, performed in stage productions and many concerts.

He has recorded 28 albums, num0us singles and has garnered five gold and one platinum records.

1965 Sikeston Rodeo Photo Gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.

17 Replies to “Jim Nabors at Sikeston Rodeo”

  1. Where the heck was I when all this cool stuff happened!

    …Then after looking at the pictures I remember why I did not go to Sikeston for the rodeo…I never went to any rodeo any where at any time…I think if you look at the Marines trying to march in hot, dusty, mine field of horse do do, then you begin to get the idea.

    Look at the pictures! No one is smiling, even for the camera.

    Ken, again thanks for taking me back to my youth and re enforcing some the good decisions I made in life! Like NOT going to a rodeo with Jim Neighbors sitting on horse and singing in the dirt…

    Take rest of the day off… me I am going to the gulf where it is wet, it may be hot, but not dusty, no horse “do do” and Jim Neighbors is no where in sight or hearing distance…

  2. Yes, there are people smiling in those photos. Look at those watching Nabors and the Marines from behind.

    These photos are good for people-watching. I’d link to my Kino Reticulator blog posts where I tell about movies of Russian street scenes from the 50s and 60s where one can watch the people going about their business or leisure while actors and camera operators do their work among them. The reason I won’t link to them is I haven’t written them yet. It was just yesterday that I realized that the people-watching is a reason why I like to watch some scenes over and over, even though nothing much is happening as far as the plot is concerned. And my attraction to the photos in this blog is similar, even though I’ve never visited Cape Girardeau, much less Moscow, Russia.

    These photos also reminded me that I had my own experience with a celebrity come to town when Michael Landon (Little Joe of Bonanza) came to Creighton, NE in 1959 to help celebrate its 75th Anniversary. I wish I had photos of the people like Ken has. I think my Dad has a few. My mother took one of me before the parade started. I was dressed up as a prospector and holding onto our burro, Judy. The parade itself was a blur to me, because Judy got scared and took off at a faster-than-parade speed with me barely hanging on. I never did get to see Michael Landon. (URL here)

  3. The following is a list of how a lot of sweat, dirt, horse do, & volunteer hours from Jaycee’s & others benefits the community & surrounding area. It brings rodeo competition to an area that is steeped in the tradition of horses, cattle, & cowboys. Smiles & laughter are abundant but when a cowboy is shute dogging, bull riding, roping, or riding broncs its serious business…the smiles come when they draw their winnings & the donations are distributed to worthy causes.

    Charity Work/Donations

    All the profits made from the Rodeo are given back to the community in the form of charitable donations. Some recipients of these donations include:

    Muscular Dystrophy Association
    St. Jude’s Children Hospital
    Camp Run-A-Muck
    American Red Cross
    Kenny Rogers Children’s Center
    Camp Wonderland
    Delta Area Blind Association
    Make-A-Wish Foundation
    United Way
    Bootheel Counseling Services
    Missouri Delta Medical Center
    Sikeston Jaycee Regional Dialysis Center
    Regional Children’s Services
    Sikeston Public Library
    Salvation Army
    Sikeston Public Pool
    Boy Scouts
    Foster Grandparent Program
    Girl Scouts
    Heritage House
    Humane Society
    Scott County Transit
    Rescue Mission
    Rescue Squad
    Sikeston Arts Council
    Little League Football
    Nutrition Program
    Sikeston Public Safety
    American Heart Association
    Sikeston Elk’s Fourth Of July Fireworks Show
    Christmas Campaign

    We would like to extend our thanks to the many patrons that have supported our Rodeo for so many years and enabled us to make those contributions to benefit our region and our communities. On behalf of these organizations and ourselves, the Sikeston Jaycees wish to say…………..

    Thank you

    1. Libby,

      Thanks for the post. I’m sorry it didn’t appear right away. The spam filter must have choked on the long list of organizations, so I had to approve it manually.

      It’s good to see the tradition continue.

      Maybe one of these days you can even drag Terry Hopkins out there.

      Spokesrider has the right idea. People watching is often more fun than watching the primary event.

  4. The next year or two Robert Conrad was the ‘celebrity’ star of the rodeo. A couple of us made a road trip south, snooped around a bit and located the motel where he was housed. We boldly went to the door and knocked. He answered, shirtless, a little boozed up and was somewhat cordial. Our first meeting with a ‘star’. It appeared that he’d had some company in the room, perhaps still did. No, not Aretmis Gordon. We looked at The Wild, Wild West a bit differently after that.

  5. Thanks Ken for manually approving my post, I thought I had forgotten to press enter…as for Terry, some “Mamss didn’t let their babies grow up to be cowboys!” No offense to Terry but dust & manure is not everyone’s cup of tea, so to speak. As for me & my house, I am so thankful that my husband & children were part of Rodeo through 4-H & the Scott County Sheriff’s Posse, as well as team ropers where they became aquainted with amazing athletes & a fine group of people.

  6. Ken, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy this site. I left Cape in 1974,and have only been back a few times. It’s amazing how much it’s changed. Your photos & research bring back the town I remember.Oh, I went to the Sikeston Rodeo to see Jim Nabors with my folks, Dallas & Jo Albers. The moment I saw the pic’s, I rememberd him doing the song “16 Tons” and coming to the line “you load 16 tons, and whadda’ ya get? Suddenly stopped the song and said in his best Gomer Pyle…”a hernia”… Pretty funny line when you are 9 years old!
    Thank you for putting this together,
    Dallas Wayne
    Austin, TX

  7. We lived in New Madrid until I was 15 and I remember many trips to the Sikeston Jaycees Rodeo. I don’t remember going back after we moved to Cape, but I remember seeing Roy Rogers there before we moved. We always had to leave before the bull riding because Daddy wouldn’t let us see it. He thought it was too violent for his little girls.

    I love your site. It is one of my secret pleasures. I learn things about my adopted hometown that I never knew as well as am reminded about many happy teen adventures.

  8. Really enjoyed your pictures of Jim Nabors at the Sikeston Rodeo. I’ve never been to Sikeston’s Rodeo-if they ever have someone as neat as Jim Nabors again, I just may go. Actually, I live next door to our local rodeo arena in Fruitland, (Flickerwood). We usually just walk over and go thru the barbed-wire fence that separates the arena from our pasture. We used to let the owner (Mark Boardman)pasture his cattle on our side, but we have since taken down the interior fencing since we sold our cattle, and we now have a motocross track for our grandkids to use. I have been over to Flickerwood several times for different events and it’s very entertaining. I especially like to watch the little kids ride lambs. (They call it “Mutton-Bustin'” It’s fun to watch! Love your pictures and stories, Ken. I just wish you would have been in MY grade so that we would have had more of these wonderful pictures and memories to look back upon!

  9. I have an autographed picture of Jim sitting on my bookshelf from his appearance at the Rodeo signed to me, “Gomer says Hey” I couldn’t remember exactly what year it was because I was only five at the time. Thanks for the info.

  10. I haven’t been able to track any details down yet, but as a child in the mid-1960s, I saw most of the cast of “Bonanza” at the Sikeston JC Bootheel Rodeo. It was evidently such a big deal that we brought along my Dad’s parents and drove over from Paducah, KY to see it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *