If you’re a television watcher from a certain age group. The voice of Waylon Jennings probably brings you back to nostalgic memories of sitting around the family television set watching CBS on Friday nights in the 1970s and 1980s. That was the weekday evening that the network typically aired one of their flagship shows ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’. The show centered around two fun-loving, fast-driving brothers from rural Georgia who were always narrowly escaping the long arm of the law.
It was one of those rare gems from the second golden age of television that never was meant to be nearly as successful as it ended up becoming. It was initially thought up as a nine-episode mid-season mini-series meant to temporarily replace one of CBS’s failed shows from their 1979 lineup. But fans fell head over heels with Bo, Luke, and Daisy Duke – as well as their archenemy Boss Hogg. CBS ended up keeping the show around for 146 episodes over six seasons.
While CBS chairman William Paley once thought the network would be made a laughingstock if they dared put it on the air. As it turns out, he was wildly off-base and out of touch with the viewers back at home. The show ended up being a smashing success much to everyone’s surprise.
The show was actually an adaptation of Moonrunners. A relatively obscure Southern action comedy film that was shown in just a handful of theaters back in 1975. Moonrunners was nitty and gritty and bore little resemblance to the lighthearted series that it inspired. But it still laid out the basic groundwork that would inevitably become the show we all know and love.
The Dukes of Hazzard aired its last episode in 1985, 36 years ago. Because many of the actors involved in the program were already well into their middle-age years back then. Sadly many of them have passed away in the decades that have since passed. We’ve decided to honor those fallen performers by dedicating this video to their memory. These are the Dukes of Hazzard cast members that you might not have realized have died. Join Facts Verse to learn more about the duke of hazzard cast deaths.
James Best Lived A Full Life
One of the dukes of hazzard cast deaths is James Best. Who passed away in 2015 in the quaint country town of Hickory, North Carolina at the ripe old age of 88. Dukes fans will remember him as Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane which was admittedly the most successful role of his career. But just because that was his career high-point doesn’t mean he was some kind of spring chicken when he joined its cast. His acting career spanned six decades. Best landed his first role in 1950 and rounded out his career with his final role in 2013.
Before he was Sheriff Coltrane, best was a high-profile film and TV star appearing in dozens of western films and TV shows. He made several guest appearances on shows like Rawhide, Bonanza, and Hopalong Cassidy. Besides his western roles, Best also appeared in some of the most iconic television shows of all time like The Fugitive, The Twilight Zone, and The Mod Squad.
Early in his career, Best landed dramatic roles primarily. So Sheriff Roscoe was a bit of a departure from his previous parts. But best proved time and time again that he was a gifted comic genius who often had his fellow castmates in stitches with his wit and charm.
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Cancer Killed Sorrell Booke
In 1994 Sorrell Booke died in his Sherman Oaks, California home and one of the dukes of hazzard cast deaths . His most iconic role was that of the nefarious Boss Hogg. The very fact that Booke was able to transform Boss Hogg into such a cultural icon. It was even more so impressive when you consider the fact that he wasn’t anything like his villainous character in real life. To most, Boss Hogg was the quintessential caricature of a small-town good ol’ boy from the deep south, but in reality, Sorrell Booke was just your average Joe from Buffalo. Yup, he was straight up a Yankee.
Just like his buddy Best, Booke had a long and storied career in the entertainment industry. He landed his first on-screen credit in 1952. Besides Boss Hogg, Booke has quite a few memorable roles. In 1964 he earned himself his first – and only – Emmy nod for his breathtaking performance on Dr. Kildare. He also had recurring roles in situational comedies like All In The Family and Soap. Beyond TV he appeared in dozens of different films like Slaughterhouse-Five, Freaky Friday, and The Iceman Cometh.
Denver Pyle Died Not Long After Getting A Star On The Walk Of Fame
Denver Pyle took his last breath on Christmas Day in 1997. He was 77 years old. Just a week before his passing, Pyle received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. On ‘Dukes’ he played Uncle Jesse, the all-wise father figure to our boys Bo and Luke. According to his obituary, Pyle portrayed Uncle Jesse so authentically that his fans would write to him directly even decades later telling him they still thought of him as a member of their own families.
Even though that role was clearly his most well-known one, it most assuredly wasn’t his only major one. Early on in his career, Pyle was an in-demand Western actor appearing in films like The Alamo and Cahill, US Marshal, and TV programs like Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and The Lone Ranger.
Even though the majority of his roles were in dramas, Pyle was also a notable comedic actor. On the Andy Griffith Show, he had a recurring role as the bumbling buffoon Briscoe Darling. He would also reprise that role on its spin-off series Gomer Pyle USMC.
Christopher Mayer Died Much Too Young
Christopher died at the tragically young age of 57 on July 23, 2011. As an actor, the black-haired Mayer was best known for replacing the original Luke Duke played by Tom Wopat for the majority of the series fifth season.
At the time, Wopat and John Schneider, the actor behind Bo Duke, couldn’t come to an agreement with CBS over the terms of their contracts. The network riskily tried to write Wopat and Schneider off the show. Then they replaced them with Mayer and Byron Cherry respectively. Who were brought on to play cousins Coy and Vance Duke. The show tried desperately to explain away the situation by saying that the Duke brothers had finally left their home of Hazzard County, Georgia. To chase their dreams of becoming NASCAR champions.
Mayer and Cherry did their best to fill the hole left by their predecessors but the viewers weren’t buying it and the ratings abruptly dropped. CBS was backed into a corner and eventually agreed to Wopat and Schneider’s terms. And brought them back for the remaining four episodes of the fifth season. Sucks for them, but that meant that Mayer and Cherry had to be written out of the show. But notably, they did voice their characters once again for the short-lived Saturday morning animated series The Dukes.
Peggy Rea Acted For Several Decades
Ms. Rea died in 2011 at the age of 89. Dukes fans might know her best as Lulu Hogg, wife of Boss Hogg but she was much more than that. As far as Lulu went, however, her character was pretty much the sole person on the series who could actually intimidate Boss Hogg. And as such he often hid his illicit criminal activities from her. Despite their regular skirmishes, Boss Hogg and Lulu very clearly loved each other very deeply.
But like we already said, Lulu Hogg was just one role in Peggys decades-long career that included over 100 acting credits. She got her start as a production assistant for MGM before she moved to the Big Apple to pursue a career in acting in 1947. Her very first onscreen role was in I Love Lucy in 1952 when she played a nurse. Other notable credits include Rose Burton, cousin of Olivia Walton on The Waltons, and Jean Kelly, the formidable mother-in-law to Brett Butler’s Grace Kelly, the primary character of Grace Under Fire. You might have also caught her in recurring roles on shows like Step By Step and All in the Family.
Don Pedro Acted In Many Different Types Of Roles
At the age of 79, Don Pedro Colley died in 2017. On Dukes, you might recall that he played Sheriff Big Ed Little. The police chief in the nearby jurisdiction of Chickasaw County. Just like Sheriff Coltrane, Big Ed hated the Duke boys with a vengeance and didn’t want them stepping foot in his county. But unlike Coltrane, the Sheriff was an honest man. He was well-known for whipping out his signature shotgun every time the Duke boys showed their faces in his territory.
Before starring in The Dukes of Hazard, Colley has already amassed a respectable amount of credits to his name. His best-known roles include that of Gideon on Daniel Boone. The Hologram SRT in George Lucas’s directorial debut THX-1138. And Ongaro in Beneath The Planet of the Apes.
Colley was also a fixture in those 1970s Blaxploitation films that were popular back in the day appearing in films like Black Caesar and Sugar Hill.
In addition to being a celebrated and accomplished actor. Colley was also an avid and talented discus thrower and even tried out for the summer Olympics in 1960.
Again, we hate to be the bearer of bad news. No one takes pleasure in hearing about the death of a beloved star. But hopefully, we’ve done their lives justice by celebrating their careers and many accomplishments.
It’s pretty clear at this point that there will never be another show quite like The Dukes Of Hazzard. It hit TV screens at a time in American history where the world seemingly had an obsession with the lives of those living in rustic rural locales. Those days are long behind us but the legacy left behind by shows like The Dukes of Hazzard will endure for many years to come.
Anyway, now’s your time to shine. What did you think about the Dukes of Hazzard remake film that came out in 2005. Rotten Tomatoes tells one story with its dismal 14% certifiably rotten rating. But audiences seemed to enjoy the film a lot more than the hoity-toity intellectual critics. But what did you think of it? Was it a splash or a dud? Let us know.
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