Using photographs, lecture and his beautiful voice, Chris will present “Living the Impossible Dream: The Jim Nabors Story.”
Phillips will take brown bag guests down the personal and career path traveled by Sylacauga’s hometown boy, Jim Nabors. Pianist Robin Waldrop will accompany Phillips as he sings some of Nabors’ best known songs.
The Jim Nabors story is indeed a “Once Upon a Time” sort of tale, said Library Director Dr. Shirley Spears.
“The proud people of Sylacauga recall Jim as the son of local policeman, Fred Nabors and his wife, Mavis,” she said.
Jim’s sister, Freddie, described their family as not having a lot of money, but as one that remained close, Spears said.
The white cottage on Broadway Avenue where Nabors grew up still stands, and his fans and admirers often ask for directions to the site where his story all began.
Nabors suffered from asthma during his childhood and rather than playing sports, he turned to music, singing in the high school glee club and church choir, and playing clarinet in the high school band.
Nabors actually planned on having a business career after he graduated from Sylacauga High School and the University of Alabama, Spears said.
“Little did he dream that singing, playing piano, and exercising his considerable wit on his friends would be the key to eventual world-wide fame,” she said.
The road to international recognition, a beautiful home and owning a macadamia nut plantation in Hawaii was not without setbacks for Nabors.
The weather in New York where Jim worked as a typist for the United Nations was bad for his asthma, and he auditioned unsuccessfully in 1955 for a role in the Broadway musical, “No Time for Sergeants.”
Nabors’ move to California provided a better climate for his asthma and it proved to be the fateful site where Andy Griffin saw him in a cabaret club in Santa Monica.
His acting career was launched with his role as Mayberry’s dim-witted but good-hearted mechanic and then in his own spinoff, “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”
In the decades since Jim Nabors walked the streets of Sylacauga and dreamed the impossible dream, he has never been without a job, Spears said.
Despite his success in television, music remained his first love and he has recorded many albums and singles.
“A near brush with death before a liver transplant almost two decades ago led to Jim’s attitude of ‘Every day I’m alive is special,’” Spears said.
“An interviewer once asked him what he would like on his tombstone, and Jim said, ‘He was a nice guy.’”
Nabors’ friends, from all walks of life, agree that this phrase is a perfect description of this down home, kind and considerate man, Spears said.
She said, “One admirer said, “What you see is what you get with Nabors.”
Everyone is invited to hear about Nabors’ journey toward achieving a life that could only be dreamed of in his small hometown of Sylacauga, the story of how his rich classical baritone, his quick wit, and his generous spirit earned him numerous accolades including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The “Once Upon A Time” Brown Bag Lunch Series is sponsored by SouthFirst Bank. The Hightower Room opens at 11 a.m. and participants are invited to bring a sandwich and enjoy drinks and desserts provided by the library. Working people are invited to come by on their lunch break to enjoy the programs which will begin promptly at noon in the Harry I. Brown Auditorium. For more information about the series call 256/249-0961 or check out the line-up on the library’s home page at www.sylacauga.net/library.