For this week’s “Things That Bring Back Memories” post, I am going to pick something in the topic of “TELEVISION” and go with “Dukes of Hazzard“. This television show started in 1979 and was over in 1985. It’s one that I remember watching often. I really liked Bo when I was younger, but as I got older, Luke started looking a lot better. I guess I have something for dark haired guys…hmmm… 🙂
The “Dukes of Hazzard” television show also has one of those theme songs, that no matter what, as soon as you start listening to it, you know what it is for! I found out that Jennings, as the narrator for the 1975 movie, Moonrunners, was tapped to serve in the same capacity for The Dukes of Hazzard and was based on Moonrunners. I never knew that. Also, have you ever listened to the full version of his theme song? It cracks me up!! Following the songs second chorus (which we all heard on TV), Jennings makes a tongue-in-cheek reference to his faceless appearance in the credits by singing, “I’m a good ol’ boy, you know my mama loves me, but she don’t understand why they keep showing my hands and not my face on TV” That is priceless!! I remember hearing that one day on the radio and couldn’t stop laughing!! If you didn’t watch the show, see what it’s about in the preview below.
For those of you, who are either too young, or just don’t remember it, here’s a video of the “Dukes of Hazzard” intro:
“Dukes of Hazzard” was one that meant so much to me as a kid. While all of the girls at Cabrillo Elementary school in Upland were playing on that metal bar doing “cherry drops” and fighting for the swings, the boys and myself were doing car races on the metal slide! I had my General Lee and would always win!!!….well, I told the guys that, anyway! 🙂
When they tried to come out with another version with those different actors as cousins, or whatever, in my opinion, it was a joke!! Even the movie that Jessica Simpson was in looked horrible, and I never even wanted to bother watching it. John and Tom did a great job in their version and it can never be outdone!!
So, did you ever watch this show when you were younger? or have you seen it on TV later in life? Let me know what you thought of it, and if you have any memories of it in your life!
More Info on the Television Series:
The Dukes of Hazzard is an American television series that aired on the CBS television network from January 26, 1979 to February 8, 1985. The series was inspired by the 1975 film Moonrunners, which was also created by Gy Waldron and had many identical or similar character names and concepts.
The Dukes of Hazzard follows the adventures of “The Duke Boys”, cousins Bo Duke (John Schneider) and Luke Duke (Tom Wopat), who live in a rural part of the fictional Hazzard County, Georgia, with their attractive female cousin Daisy (Catherine Bach) and their wise old Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle). They race around in their customized 1969 Dodge Charger stock car, dubbed (The) General Lee, evading crooked county commissioner Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke) and his inept county Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best), and always managing to get caught in the middle of the various escapades and incidents that often occur in the area. Bo and Luke had previously been sentenced to probation for illegal transportation of moonshine; their Uncle Jesse made a plea bargain with the U.S. Government to stop brewing moonshine in exchange. As a result, Bo and Luke are not allowed to carry firearms — instead, they often use compound bows, sometimes with arrows tipped with dynamite — or to leave Hazzard County, although the exact details of their probation terms vary from episode to episode. Sometimes it is implied that they would be jailed for merely crossing the county line; on other occasions, it is shown that they may leave Hazzard, as long as they are back within a certain time limit. Several other technicalities of their probation also came into play at various times.
Corrupt county commissioner Jefferson Davis “Boss” Hogg, who either runs or has fingers in just about everything in Hazzard County is forever angry with the Dukes, in particular Bo and Luke for always foiling his crooked scams. He is always looking for ways to get them out of the picture so that his plots have a chance of succeeding. Many episodes revolve around Hogg trying to engage in an illegal scheme, sometimes with aid of hired criminal help. Some of these are get-rich-quick schemes, though many others affect the financial security of the Duke farm, which Hogg has long wanted to acquire for nefarious reasons. Other times, Hogg hires criminals from out of town to do his dirty work for him, and often tries to frame Bo and Luke for various crimes as part of these plots. Bo and Luke always seem to stumble over Hogg’s latest scheme, sometimes by curiosity, and often by sheer luck, and put it out of business. Despite the Dukes often coming to his rescue, Hogg forever seems to have an irrational dislike of the clan, particularly Bo and Luke, often accusing them of spying on him, robbing or planning to rob him, and other supposedly nefarious actions as he believes they are generally out to get him.
The other main players of the show are Cooter Davenport (Ben Jones), who in very early episodes was seen to be a wild, unshaven rebel, often breaking or treading on the edge of the law, before settling down and becoming much more laid-back, and who owns the local garage and is the Duke family’s best friend (he is often referred to as an “honorary Duke”), and Enos Strate (Sonny Shroyer), an honest but naive young Deputy who often finds his morals conflicted as he is reluctantly forced to take part in Hogg and Rosco’s crooked schemes. In the third and fourth season, when Enos leaves for his own show, he is replaced by Deputy Cletus Hogg (Rick Hurst), Boss’s cousin, who is slightly more wily than Enos but is generally also a reluctant player in Hogg’s plots.
Owing to their fundamentally good natures, the Dukes often wind up helping Boss Hogg, albeit grudgingly. More than once Hogg is targeted by former associates who are either seeking revenge or have turned against him after a scheme has unraveled in one way or another. Sheriff Rosco also finds himself in trouble more than once. On such occasions, Bo and Luke usually have to rescue their adversaries as an inevitable precursor to defeating the bad guys; in other instances, the Dukes and Hogg and Rosco mutually join forces to tackle bigger threats to Hazzard or one of their respective parties. These instances became more frequent as the show progressed, and later seasons saw a number of stories where the Dukes and Hogg (and Rosco) temporarily work together.
John Schneider (Bo Duke) was born April 8, 1960, in Mt. Kisco, New York. His parents divorced when he was two. John began acting at the age of eight. He was in many plays in New York. He and his mother moved to Atlanta, Georgia, when he was fourteen. He got involved in the local theater and was in many local productions. He had a small part in Smokey and the Bandit (1977) starring Burt Reynolds. His big break came when he won the role of Bo Duke on The Dukes of Hazzard (1979) on CBS from 1979-1985. He auditioned for the role pretending he was a genuine country boy. He had a weeks growth of beard and held a beer can claiming he was from Snellville, Georgia. He later became a very successful country singer and had several hit songs including “I’ve Been Around Enough To Know” and “Country Girls.” He has since opened Faith Works Productions in San Antonio, Texas. He also appears in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993) as Daniel Simon/Red McCall.
Tom Wopat (Luke Duke) was born in Lodi, Wisconsin, the fifth of eight siblings born to Albin Carl Wopat and his wife, Ruth Arlene Wopat . His father, a devout Roman Catholic, who raised his children in that faith, was a dairy farmer of Czech descent. Wopat attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and made his television debut on One Life to Live. He achieved television fame in the popular television series The Dukes of Hazzard (1979–85), then embarked on a music career. He has recorded eight albums. Musically, he switches between rock and roll and country music styles, though his last two albums have been of classic pop standards. His 1980s albums were on EMI Nashville. The latter recording, Dissertation on the State of Bliss, is a collection of Harold Arlen songs. Wopat first appeared on the Broadway stage as a replacement in the 1977 musical I Love My Wife, as “Wally”. He later appeared as a replacement in the stage musicals City of Angels, and Guys and Dolls. In 1981 he played the main character, Billy Bigelow in the musical, Carousel, at the Augusta Barn Theatre in Augusta, Michigan. In 2005, Wopat appeared in the Broadway revival of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross as James Lingk. He starred in the North Carolina Theatre’s production of The Music Man as Harold Hill in November 2006. In 2014 he returned to the role of Luke Duke in a commercial for Autotrader.com. John Schneider returned to play Bo Duke.
Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke) was born in Warren, Ohio, the daughter of Norma Jean Kucera, an acupuncturist, and Bernard Bachman, a rancher. Her mother was of Mexican descent and her father was of German ancestry. She is descended from the Verdugo family, one of California’s earliest landed families. She grew up on a ranch in South Dakota, where she visited her grandparents in Faith, South Dakota, and graduated from Stevens High School (1970) in Rapid City, South Dakota. She studied arts at UCLA where she supplemented her income by making clothes for friends and theater groups. Bach heard about the audition for The Dukes of Hazzard through her husband. When she arrived there, she found the producers were looking for a Dolly Parton-lookalike; despite not looking like what they were searching for, she was hired on the spot. One of the earliest costume ideas from the producers was that she wear a tight white turtleneck, go-go boots and a poodle skirt, but Bach asked if she could bring her own outfit, which was a homemade T-shirt, a pair of cut-off denim shorts and high heels. Bach had concerns about the appropriateness of the cut-off shorts at first, saying she could not wear them in a restaurant scene. When prompted by the producers to visit a restaurant across the street, Bach found the waitresses were wearing “little miniskirts that matched the tablecloths!”. She starred on the show, opposite Tom Wopat, John Schneider and James Best, whom Bach remains close to, after cancellation of the series. In fact, she visits her mentor’s website that is dedicated to Best’s painting. At the suggestion of the show’s producers, Bach posed as Daisy Duke for a poster, which sold 5 million copies. The poster once caused a stir when Nancy Reagan took a liking to it after Bach visited the White House with one as a gift for one of her former schoolteachers then working there. While she was starring on the The Dukes of Hazzard, her legs were insured for $1,000,000. In 1985, she served as the model for the figurehead for the schooner Californian. After the series was ended, Bach had roles in a number of low-profile films. From 1992 to 1994 she starred in the Canadian family drama series, African Skies. In 2006, she guest starred on Monk, and in 2010 had small cameo in comedy film You Again. In 2012, Bach joined the cast of CBS daytime soap opera, The Young and the Restless in the recurring role of Anita Lawson. In 2002, Bach launched a line of diamond jewelry at Debenhams.
Denver Pyle (Uncle Jesse) was a rather wanderlust fellow before he latched onto acting, Denver Pyle–who made a career of playing drawling, somewhat slow Southern types–was actually born in Colorado in 1920, to a farming family. He attended a university for a time but dropped out to become a drummer. When that didn’t pan out he drifted from job to job, doing everything from working the oil fields in Oklahoma to the shrimp boats in Texas. In 1940 he moseyed off to Los Angeles and briefly found employment as an NBC page. That particular career was interrupted by World War II, and Pyle enlisted in the navy. Wounded in the battle of Guadalcanal, he received a medical discharge in 1943. Working for an aircraft plant in Los Angeles as a riveter, the rangy actor was introduced to the entertainment field after receiving a role in an amateur theater production and getting spotted by a talent scout. Training with such renowned teachers as Maria Ouspenskaya and Michael Chekhov, he made his film debut in The Guilt of Janet Ames (1947). Pyle went on to roles in hundreds of film and TV parts, bringing a touch of Western authenticity to many of his roles. A minor villain or sidekick in the early 1950s, he often received no billing. Prematurely white-haired (a family trait), he became a familiar face on episodes of Gunsmoke (1955) and Bonanza (1959) and also developed a close association with actor John Wayne, appearing in many of Wayne’s later films, including The Horse Soldiers (1959), The Alamo (1960), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and Cahill U.S. Marshal (1973). Pyle’s more important movie roles came late in his career. One of his most memorable was in Bonnie and Clyde (1967) as Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, the handcuffed hostage of the duo, who spits in Bonnie’s (Faye Dunaway) face after she coyly poses with him for a camera shot. He settled easily into hillbilly/mountain men types in his later years and became a household face for his crotchety presence in The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (1977) and, especially, The Dukes of Hazzard (1979). He died of lung cancer at age 77.
Sorrell Booke (Boss Hogg) was born in Buffalo, New York in 1930, the son of a local physician. He found his calling early in life, like most actors, when his family encouraged him to entertain relatives by doing impressions and telling jokes. He went on to study at Yale and Columbia University, and mastered five languages. During the Korean War, Booke worked in counter-intelligence where his lingual talents served him well. His intelligence and subtlety are often overlooked when considering his signature role as Jefferson Davis “Boss” Hogg during his run on The Dukes of Hazzard (1979). He died of cancer in 1994 just after his 64th birthday.
James Best (Rosco P. Coltrane) was an American character actor and teacher. Born Jules Guy in Powderly, Kentucky, on July 26, 1926, he was orphaned at three and adopted by Armen and Essa Best, who re-named him James K. Best and raised him in Corydon, Indiana. Following high school he worked briefly as a metalworker before joining the Army during World War II in July 1944. The majority of his service was as an MP in Wiesbaden, Germany just after the end of the war. While still in Germany, Best was transferred to Special Services and began his acting career. According to Best, he first acted in a European tour of “My Sister Eileen” directed by Arthur Penn. Upon his return to the U.S., he toured in road and stock companies in plays and musicals, and was finally spotted by a scout from Universal Pictures, who put him under contract. A handsome young man, his rural inflections perhaps kept him from frequent leading man roles. During the 1950’s and ’60’s, he was a familiar face in movies and television in a wide range of roles, from Western bad guys to craven cowards and country bumpkins. Physical ailments curtailed his work for a long period late in his career, and he established a well-respected acting workshop in Los Angeles. He also served as artist-in-residence at the University of Mississippi, teaching and directing. He worked in both acting and producing capacities for Burt Reynolds on several of the latter’s films in the late 1970’s, before taking on his greatest commercial success. Although the The Dukes of Hazzard (1979) TV series was far beneath his talents, his role as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane was the part that gave him his greatest fame. He continued teaching, both in Hollywood and later in Florida (at the University of Central Florida). Semi-retired, he makes personal appearances and exhibits his paintings. James Best starred in the 2007 feature film, Moondance Alexander (2007). He just recently passed away…may he rest in peace.
Did You Know?
From season two on, an audio stinger of Roscoe’s “Coo Coo” was played over the Warner Brothers Television closing logo. In some episodes the audio was of Boss Hogg exclaiming “Them Dukes, them Dukes!”
In several interviews, John Schneider admitted that he lied about his age in order to get the part of Bo Duke. He told them that he was 24, when in reality, he was just a teenager at 18. He also showed up in a t-shirt and blue jeans, carrying a six pack of beer, and pretending to speak with a Southern accent, when in reality he was from New York City.
They crashed a lot of cars filming this show. Replacing the police sedans was easy – replacing the old Dodge Chargers (“General Lee”) was not as they weren’t made anymore. It got to the point where producers would spot a Charger on the street and would approach the owner and offer to buy it on the spot.
The building used as The Boar’s Nest set is still around, but it’s now a church.
Sorrell Booke had it in his contract that there must be things that Boss Hogg would not do. The two things he would not do were dealing drugs, and killing. He did not want to lead children and early teenagers to temptations of suicide or drug abuse.
During one of the famous jump sequences, that was recorded before the series debuted on Friday, Januany 26th, 1979 the stunt crew actually set a world record. History.com’s date of November 11 and the category of Automotive shows the fact. The jump’s height was 16 feet and length was 82 feet long, occurred on Saturday, November 11th, 1978. Stuntdriver, Craig R. Baxley is believed to be the successful driver of this historic jump.
Bo and Luke Duke occasionally used a bow and an arrow, (a majority of the times, the arrow was almost like a stick of dynamite and explode what it hit) as their way of combat warfare, instead of guns, because the Duke boys were on probation for moonshine, running and any use of firearms would be seen as a probation violation.
Somewhere between 256 and 321 “General Lee” cars were created and mostly destroyed during the series. Less than 20 in various states of disrepair still exist. Despite popular belief, there were no 1970 Chargers used in the series according to all the car builders.
Enos and Cooter were the only regular characters with no familiar relationships to any other regulars on the series. (Though Cooter was an “honorary” member of the Duke family, and his cousins appeared in his place during Ben Jones walk off). Boss and Rosco were Brothers-In-Law, and Cletus was a cousin of Boss Hogg.
In several episodes, during pursuit scenes, footage would show makes and models of the Sherriff Department cars that would differ from cut to cut, and be different than the ones shown driven by Roscoe, Enos and Cletus.
During the filming of the pilot episode, two directors were eating breakfast in the town square of Covington when they heard a car drive by that played the opening bars to “Dixie” as the horn. This, they thought, must be in the show. They chased down the owner, bought the horn out of his car for $300, and installed it in a General Lee.
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