Kym “Bogie” Shurbutt, an original cast member of The Carolina Opry, joined the cast just a few days prior to opening night in May 1986. And that’s an interesting story. Although the cast positions were already filled when Kym auditioned, he continued to show up and look for any way to be involved with the new show that was going to open in Surfside Beach. Calvin finally told him that he could work in the sound booth and maybe something would open up onstage. Fate took a hand when the person hired to portray a character Calvin had named “Bogie,” became seriously ill with the flu just before an important dress rehearsal that would be attended by the two writers of the popular Hee Haw television show. Calvin, hoping the comedy would stand up, flew the writers in to review the show and possibly write additional comedy to punch it up. With the slated comedian flat on his back in bed and little alternative, Calvin tapped Kym Shurbutt to “walk through” the part of Bogie, carrying the script, doing the best he could. And a beloved star was born. Even under those circumstances, Kym was funny. The Hee Haw writers not only felt our comedy required no improvement, but their comment on Kym was, “Don’t let him go.”
Calvin wasn’t about to—and never did. The other guy was out. Kym remained a cast member for the next thirty-five years. Kym had “it.” His comedic timing, his good looks, his charisma, and his irrepressible sense of fun made audiences fall in love with him. He was also an accomplished musician and vocalist. In private life, Kym was kind, funny, gentle, loved to read, enjoyed home improvement, and was devoted to his cat Kippy. Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, he loved to spend time “back home,” hanging out with family, jamming with musician buddies, or fishing. He had a gift for friendship and never, ever lost a friend. But his greatest joy in life was his son Cody’s family, and grandson Caden.
The Gilmore Entertainment family has received thousands of outpourings of love and sadness from three generations of visitors and residents who knew and loved Kym’s work. Many of them mention small acts of kindness, or their particularly favorite bits—his “Twelve Days of Christmas,” a fixture in The Carolina Opry Christmas Special, was mentioned often. Calvin Gilmore in a Facebook tribute, posted, “Kym was fond of saying that we (and his role as Bogie) had changed his life. Dear old friend, let it be said that you also changed ours.”
I think a lot of us probably feel that way. Rest in peace, Kym. And farewell, Bogie.