They had to call in an actual Marine barber to properly buzz Gomer Pyle's head
"He zipped him in about eight seconds."
In the opening scene of the pilot episode of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., viewers watched Jim Nabors sit in a barber's chair that was decidedly not Floyd's and then served as witness as the Mayberry boy got his hair buzzed off military-style.
To capture the scene, there was no faking it. Once you started buzzing, that was it. So Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. creator Aaron Ruben didn't take any chances. In fact, he brought his own barber down to the set to do the job. That's how much it meant to him to start his new series off right.
And because everybody was so excited about the pilot episode of this funny new show, the whole crew came down to watch the pilot get filmed, including series composer Earle Hagen, who did the theme music as well as other music you hear in various restaurant and bustling physical scenes throughout the show.
Because he happened to be there that day, Hagen told the Archive of American Television how tough it was to get that particular shot. He said he watched them struggle to set up the scene with Ruben's barber. Hagen remembered: "The pilot was hysterical. We went down to see the shooting of the pilot, and it was really funny, because they have to give Jim the Marines haircut. And that took about an hour and a half to set up, because Aaron [Ruben] brought his own barber down."
Hagen said that after a while, Ruben conceded that something was off and he sent his barber home. Then he considered his options: What else could he do?
He called in the actual Marines, or at least, a barber who actually did buzzcuts for Marines every day. According to Hagen, "They finally got a Marine barber down who zipped Jim in about eight seconds. It was really funny. I thought Jim was gonna faint."
Instead of fainting, though, at the end of the haircut, in the scene Nabors turned around to look in the mirror, and then he said to the barber, "Well, it ain't exactly like Floyd the barber back home woulda done it, but after all, it's just your first time."
On the show, the line gets a laugh, as all of Gomer's good-natured goofs always do, but in reality, now you know that the TV soldier was getting his hair cut by a thoroughly experienced Marine barber. And thanks to Ruben's tireless dedication to perfection, that experience shows in every hair on his star's head.