Actor James Best of ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ dies


HICKORY, NC (KRON)– James Best, the actor best known for his role of Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard has died.

Best died Monday night in Hickory, North Carolina after a brief illness and complications of pneumonia.

He was 88.

Best was a World War II veteran.

While in the Army, he joined the military theatrical company.

After the war, Best went to New York City, working in both winter and summer stock productions.

It was his modeling work that got him noticed by a Hollywood casting director.

That led to Best getting work as a contract player for Universal Studios.

But it was in 1979, that Best became a household name.

“If there were ever any question that the cool, dashing and sometimes rough-edged actor of dozens of gritty westerns and war films could be believable in a comedy, the answer came in 1979 in the person of Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, which would become the signature role of Jimmie’s long Hollywood career,” said the obituary from his website. “In many ways, it was an ironic yet natural fit for Jimmie, the fabled Hollywood rebel, to comically portray a character who is a blundering fool at trying to enforce laws and outwit rural rule-benders like “those Duke boys.”

Best’s former colleagues offered their condolences.

Tom Wopat played Luke Duke on The Dukes of Hazzard. He said ““the work he did with Sorrell Booke (Boss Hogg) probably defined our show as much as the car chases. He was a fine actor, director and mentor, and an even better friend. He will be greatly missed.”

John Schneider, who played Bo Duke on the show offered similar sentiments.
“Jimmie Best—of course, I laughed. But I learned more about acting in front of a camera from Jimmie Best in an afternoon than from anyone else in a year. When asked to cry on camera, he would say, ‘Sure thing…which eye?’ I’m forever thankful to have cut my teeth in the company of such a fine man.”

Best was an animal lover and to honor that, his family requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the humane society of their choice.

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