‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ Star James Best Dead at 88
Prolific character actor James Best, most known for playing the bumbling Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard, has passed away from complications following a battle with pneumonia. He was 88 years old.
The news comes to us from The Charlotte Observer, who say that Best died Monday night in Hickory, North Carolina.
Born on July 26, 1926, Best’s first Hollywood credits came in 1950. He soon became a regular face on screens, both large and small, for the next few decades. Although he’d show up on everything from Alfred Hitchock Presents to The Twilight Zone to I Spy, he was a regular in westerns, putting in his fair share of time on shows like Rawhide, Have Gun Will Travel and Gunsmoke. Although he continued to show up in movies from time-to-time, his bread and butter became television, where his Kentucky-bred charm made him a unique presence.
His most iconic role came in 1979, when he joined The Dukes of Hazzard. Over the course of seven seasons and 141 episodes, his Sheriff Rosco constantly tried (and failed) to catch those Duke boys as they sped around Hazzard County in their suped-up car, the General Lee. The right-hand man of the show’s main villain, J.D. “Boss” Hogg, Best played Rosco as a simpleminded bumbler who would probably rank fairly high on any list of TV’s stupidest corrupt cops. However, his very particular speech patterns and silly catchphrases ensured that this was one keystone cop who would be permanently entrenched in popular culture.
Best’s career slowed down after The Dukes of Hazzard, but with over 600 movies and individual TV episodes to his name, he had earned an early retirement. Like the best character actors, Best rarely got the spotlight, but he made everyone around him look better for over half a century.