6 details you never noticed in the Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. pilot episode

Take a closer look at this season-four finale of The Andy Griffith Show!

Of all the characters in Mayberry, Gomer Pyle was perhaps not the first to come to mind to get his own sitcom in 1964. In hindsight, it was inspired. We are glad Jim Nabors got his own spotlight.

Before the spinoff Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. kicked off, the series got a pilot episode in the spring of 1964 with "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.," the final episode in season four of The Andy Griffith Show.

It was certainly an outlier of an episode, as Andy and Gomer are the only two regular characters from Mayberry in the story. Instead, we met a crop of new characters… some of which did not continue on to Gomer Pyle, surprisingly.

Let's take a look at this smashing, successful spinoff pilot.

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1. This actor died before this episode aired.

At the end of the episode, Colonel Watson — or, as Carter calls him behind his back, the "old man" — shows up to inspect the raw recruits. He commends Gomer's tidy bed. You might wonder why this Col. Watson character never appears on the Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. series. Col. Edward Gray (Forrest Compton) was the superior on that show. Frank Albertson portrayed Watson in the pilot. He is perhaps most recognizable as Tom Cassidy in Psycho a few years early. The actor passed away on Leap Day in 1964. "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." aired in May of that year. Alas, Albertson passed away before he could see his work on The Andy Griffith Show.

2. Gomer sings an archaic version of the "Marines' Hymn."

In the opening scene and later at camp with a bucket on his head, Gomer belts out the "Marines' Hymn," that familiar song that begins, "From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli!" Listen closely to his lyrics in the first verse. Gomer sings, "On the land and on the sea…" This would have been a quite dated version of the song, even in the 1960s. Back in 1942, the Marines officially changed the line "On the land as on the sea" to "In the air, on land, and sea" to reflect the addition of aviation to its arsenal. Would Carter really have tolerated a 22-year-old version of the song from a new recruit?

3. It is the only time Vince Carter's correct rank is used.

Throughout the show Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., characters and fans referred to Vince Carter as "Sergeant Carter." This is not correct, as anyone can see by the insignia on his arm. The patch on his uniform features three chevrons and two rockers, denoting the rank of Gunnery Sergeant, E-7, two rankings higher than a mere "Sergeant," or E-5. In the pilot episode, however, Carter correctly announced himself as "Gunnery Sergeant Carter" and gets his due rank. Really, we should have called him "Gunny Carter" for authenticity sake. 

4. This is series producer Sheldon Leonard's real office up the stairs.

"Camp Wilson" was, of course, not a real military base. The episode was filmed on the Desilu Productions lot. Behind the new recruits you can see a staircase. Those stairs, in reality, led to the office of Sheldon Leonard, the producer of The Andy Griffith Show.

5. Andy and Gomer mispronounce "Marine Corps."

When Gomer tells Andy that he has joined the Marines, he calls them the "Corps," pronouncing the word "Korrs." Andy then repeats "Korrs." Of course, Gomer being Gomer, it fits his character, and perhaps Andy is subtly ribbing him, but it should be noted that the word is correctly pronounced "Korr."

6. Gomer arrives at a different camp.

Did something seem different when we mentioned Camp Wilson a couple of items above? Most fans of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. associate the private with being stationed at Camp Henderson, a fictionalized version of Camp Pendleton in California. However, that is a long drive for Sheriff Andy. In the pilot, Andy drives Gomer to camp in North Carolina, somewhere between Mayberry and Wilmington. This Camp Wilson was a brief location for Gomer, as the comedy shifted to Camp Henderson early in season one of the spin-off.

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Barky 5 months ago
Another fact: When Andy walks into where Sergeant Carter is dining with other Marines, composer Earl Hagen's song "Harlem Nocturne" is playing on the jukebox.
txredhead56 5 months ago
I have noticed that Carter was always referred to as "Sgt. Carter" or more commonly by other NCO's as "Sarge." This would not be allowed in the Marine Corps. He would be referred to as Gunnery Sgt. Carter, or simply as "Gunny."
Tom8888 5 months ago
Gunnery Sgt. Carter, gives his full rank when going to the Lt. Col office in the episode, when Gomer is trying to pass the obstacle course
MeTvEr 5 months ago
The staircase to Sheldon Leonard's (fact #4) office was used very frequently. Captain Ironpants episode for one. Also, Sheldon Leonard played the director of the Marine Movie Gomer and Carter were in. Very funny episodes.
GaryCollins 5 months ago
I’ve always liked it but no one noticed in the pilot episode Andy meets Carter and convinces him Gomer is related to Gen. Pyle.
However in episode 2.26 when Opie runaways to join the Marines, Andy arrives to retrieve Opie, Gomer comments about them meeting for the first time, and Carter doesn’t seem to remember Andy Taylor either despite being tricked by him before.

Moriyah GaryCollins 5 months ago
He might've not had a good Si. (Introverted Sensing)
MrBill 5 months ago
Anyone notice a lack of continuity between the Gomer Pyle USMC episode of TAGS and the first episode of the series? Gunnery Sargent Carter asks Gomer what his name is in the first episode of the series but wouldn't he have already known it in the pilot from TAGS?
sandman 5 months ago
Here is a Fun Fact for you METV. Sheldon Leonard lives on in The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstetter
WilliamLAllen 5 months ago
I don't know about the Marines, but in the Army an E-7 Sargent First Class is addressed as Sargent. A First Sargent and a Sargent Major (E-8 and E-9) are addressed by their rank. Also a Staff Sargent is addressed as Sargent.
txredhead56 WilliamLAllen 5 months ago
In the U.S. Marine Corps, an E-7 is the rank of Gunnery Sargent (three chevrons up and two rockers down). They are addressed formally as "Gunnery Sargent" and informally as "Gunny".
EveningSkye txredhead56 1 month ago
Please, folks, the word is SERGEANT!!!
RichardPniewski 5 months ago
It's all well and good on the base camp, but there was also...you know...Vietnam...
tadlem RichardPniewski 5 months ago
This series started in 1964. We weren't engaged in Viet Nam until 1965.
And, there's this thing about it being entertainment, too...ya know....
Shalyn 5 months ago
Regarding detail no. 5, Andy does repeat Gomer’s mispronunciation of the word “corps” and Andy’s seems to be a purposeful echo, but I’m pretty sure both of them say the word as “Korps”, (as in “corpse”), which I think is even funnier.
kendel7 Shalyn 5 months ago
That's what I also heard....."corpse".
MikefromJersey Shalyn 5 months ago
You are 100% correct. Uneducated people frequently pronounce corps as "corpse", it was a way of underlining Gomer's unworldliness, that he was a simple goodhearted soul about to enter
a totally alien world.
Moriyah Shalyn 5 months ago
I think your right. He did call it the corps (as in "corpse") at the beginning of the series.
Like former president Obama
Moriyah 5 months ago
Now I know more about the episode! Anyone excited to watch it?! (Let me know)
madmark1 5 months ago
I guess Camp Wilson was the fictionalizied Version to Paris Island in South Carolina I guess they use fictionalized base names because I don’t think the real Marines would be too happy with a character like Gomer Pyle but anyway it made for a funny TV show. But this is rather fascinating many years later Gomer Pyle was made an honorary Marine so I guess you could say even the Marine Corps kind of has a sense of humor about Gomer Pyle. Semper Fi Gomer.
KathyMcKinny madmark1 5 months ago
ARE YOU KIDDING??? The marines LOVED Gomer and made many concessions for him. Read up on how the military gave the show WHATEVER they wanted to make it authentic. Gomer was a GOLD MINE for re-enlistments, and did many meet and greets with the military men.
madmark1 KathyMcKinny 5 months ago
I never said that the Marines didn’t like Gomer. I think early in the show because Gomer was kind of a klutz very unmilitary and goofy which is what made the show funny I think the Marines might’ve been a little bit apprehensive of someone in the Marines being portrayed that way but I do believe they realized that it had more positive affect than negative affect and I do believe the Marines realized that or he would not of been made an honorary Marine if the Marines had not realize his value of promoting the United States Marine Corps and you can fact check it but later on the Marines made Jim neighbors who portrayed Gomer a honorary Marine
DoubleNaughtSpy madmark1 5 months ago
Oh, reading your reply to Kathy made my head hurt and my teeth bleed!! Please spend some of your stay-in-place-at-home time during COVID-19 revisiting the following concepts of basic English composition: (1) The proper use of a comma within a sentence; (2) "affect" vs. "effect"; (3) and "would not of" vs. "would not have."

And, finally, please pay close attention to the sitcom's opening credits. The star of the show was Jim N-A-B-O-R-S.
madmark1 DoubleNaughtSpy 5 months ago
really doublenaught? I was just commenting about a TV show that was popular back in the 60s and I’m a big fan of Gomer Pyle. maybe you’re a big fan of the Beverly hillbillies and I like the Beverly hillbillies also.Naught I believe represents zero. you must’ve graduated the sixth grade with Jethro Beaudine. Because in my math class zero always meant zero or to put it in numerical terms0=0 well I was simply commenting about a TV show in the 60s that I liked and many more people liked as well I didn’t know I was going to get critiqued in my English in the way I simply reply on the Internet and unless you do a lot of heavy editing sometimes things come out wrong due to auto correct on cell phones in some computers so forgive me for my English incorrectness.I didn’t know I had to be in English graduate from Harvard to comment on a TV show from the 60s over the Internet next time a post to reply I’ll make sure to get all the English educational information that I need before I post such a reply. I guess you can sense my sarcasm I mean really man come on we’re talking about a TV show over the Internet I’m not writing a novel if I did I would hire editors. have a good day I think I will get on Hulu and watch some Beverly hillbillies now.
Tony DoubleNaughtSpy 5 months ago
"Head hurt and teeth bleed"? What a drama queen!
Dennisjs DoubleNaughtSpy 5 months ago
Wow we are so lucky to have such an educated and observant person as yourself to help us poor ignorant people post
Gary DoubleNaughtSpy 30 days ago
Can you please shut the f--k up, professor?
Kenner 5 months ago
Hollywood Marines
BigE Kenner 5 months ago
Yeah, I'm a Hollywood Marine...what of it. LOL
Moody 5 months ago
Kudos to the writer for getting it right on GySgt Carter's correct rank. They never did refer to him as Gunny Carter on the show as far as I remember. However, in #1 you got the rank abbreviation wrong for Forrest Compton's & Frank Albertson's characters. Both were Lieutenant Colonels which, in the Marines is abbreviated LtCol. In verbal communication both Colonels(Col) & Lieutenant Colonels(LtCol) are referred to as "Colonel" but when you write their rank you must use the correct abbreviation. Another article about Edward Gray made the same mistake. Obviously the staff didn't read the comments then or they just don't care. A simple Google search would have found the correct information for the writer. Too much work I guess. Also, in #5 I'm pretty sure Gomer consistently pronounced Corps as "Korps", mistakenly pronouncing the "p" which is silent. And, FYI in #6 the Marines do have a rather large base in North Carolina called MCB Camp Lejeune. For the most part a good article though.
dbalius Moody 5 months ago
Your points are spot-on, Moody. I was born at Camp Lejeune and my dad was a career Marine officer. We were living on base at Quantico, Virginia when Gomer Pyle debuted, and enjoyed their depiction of boot camp. We knew there was something fishy about the base locations, though, because while Lejeune would have geographically fit the bill, it was not then or at any other time a boot camp.
MaryMitch Moody 5 months ago
I'll bet there was a discussion about the "Gunnery" - they probably figured most people wouldn't know the difference and making him just "Sergeant" would save some dialogue time.
lmahabhashyam dbalius 5 months ago
I too was born at Camp Lejeune in 1963 it never was a boot camp and I’m not sure if Cherry Point was up and running but it too was never a boot camp I believe the nearest are Paris Island and again not sure but I believe there’s an officer training school in Quantico Virginia however the only boot camps are Paris Island South Carolina and Pendleton San Diego California.
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