Thirty Years Later, 'Hazzard' Still 'A Good-Old-Boy Thing' The Dukes of Hazzard still inspires legions of fans. This weekend, many of those fans — and some of the show's surviving stars — descend on central Georgia for a celebration of TV's most famous good ole boys. James Best, who played Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, joins Rachel Martin for a look back at the show.

Thirty Years Later, 'Hazzard' Still 'A Good-Old-Boy Thing'

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If you were a kid in the 1980s, you probably turned on a television at one point and heard this song.


WAYLON JENNINGS: (Singing) Just the good ol' boys, never meaning no harm...

MARTIN: The good ol' boys were, of course, Bo and Luke Duke. Young girls swooned and fell into camps according to which Duke cousin they preferred. "The Dukes of Hazzard" was on the air for about six years, but it's lived on in re-runs and has become kind of a cult classic. This weekend in central Georgia, thousands of people are expected to turn out for a "Dukes of Hazzard" reunion. The stars of the show will be on hand to sign autographs, and maybe slide through a car door window or two. James Best will also be at the reunion. Who's James Best, you ask?


JAMES BEST: (as Rosco P. Coltrane) Who? Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, that's who.

MARTIN: James Best played Rosco P. Coltrane, the endearingly daft sheriff who was always trying to catch the Duke boys in the act of making trouble. James Best joins us on the line from Lake City, Florida. Mr. Best, thanks so much for talking with us.

BEST: I appreciate talking to you.

MARTIN: I think I had a "Dukes of Hazzard" lunch box, at one point. I mean, there were action figures; your face was everywhere. Did you have any idea, when you started out, that the show was going to be such a big hit?

BEST: Well, you know, Rachel, I really didn't have any idea. When they called me, they said, you want to come over and see about a series called "Dukes of Hazzard"? And I said, well, I don't want to do a gang thing. And they said, oh no, this is a good ol' boy thing, and we're going to shoot the whole series in Georgia. Well, we shot five down in Georgia, and then they moved it back to L.A. And anyway, we spent seven years - the next six and a half years - in L.A. And I thank God every day for having been a small part of a series that's known all over the world now. And after 30 years, we still draw thousands and thousands of fans at Dukefest.

MARTIN: Do you have a favorite episode yourself, personally?

BEST: Well, it would sound conceited if I said so, but I had more fun playing the million-dollar sheriff - which was a two-parter - where I inherited, supposedly, a million dollars.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) What's it feel like being the richest man in Hazzard County?

BEST: (as Rosco P. Coltrane) Oh, it's good news...

SORRELL BOOKE: (As Boss Hogg) Hell, he ain't, he ain't. I'm the richest man in Hazzard County. I always have been. I always will be!

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) From the sound of things, boss, Rosco could buy you out quicker than a stud pig squeals.

BEST: I think there were so many of the shows that I really, really had a pleasure working, especially with Boss Hogg - Sorrell Booke, who is a fantastic actor. And he went along with everything I would say. You know, I (makes sounds), and I'd do all that stuff.

MARTIN: Yeah, Rosco always had a hard time getting his words out.

BEST: Yeah. Well, you know, originally they wanted me to play Rosco as a straight sheriff. I didn't want to do that. I said, I'm going to play Rosco like a 12-year-old who likes hot pursuit.


BEST: And when I got to giggling, the whole thing, I ad-libbed that. That's what I used to do with my daughters when they were really little. I'd go (makes sounds), get you, you little rascal. And when I met with the producers and directors, that's what I did. Ad they fell off their chairs laughing. So that's what I incorporated in the television series.

MARTIN: You know, Bo and Luke were famous for sliding into their car, the General Lee, in kind of an unusual way - going in through the window. Were you good at that? Did you ever try that?

BEST: No, I've never tried to slide through the windows because I was 50 years old, at that point. I had a hard enough time falling off of curbs and crashing the car and all that crazy stuff, you know.


MARTIN: Well, before we let you go, can you give us Rosco P. Coltrane for the road?

BEST: OK, this is the way it goes: This here is Rosco P. Coltrane, going against little fat buddy. Got your ears on? (Makes sounds) I love hot pursuit. Woof. Come here, Flashy (Makes sounds). Get him. Get him. I'm gone.

MARTIN: (LAUGHTER) James Best, one of the co-stars of the 1980s hit TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard," being remembered this weekend in the great state of Georgia, where the show was set. Mr. Best, thanks so much for talking with us.

BEST: Thank you, Rachel. I really appreciate it.


MARTIN: And you're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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