Actor James Best, who is best known for his role as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on “The Dukes of Hazzard,” died Monday night. He was 88 years old.
Best died in Hickory, North Carolina after suffering from pneumonia, according to his professional website jamesbest.com.
The youngest of eight brothers and sisters, James Best was born Jewel Franklin Guy in Powderly, Kentucky on July 26, 1926. His mother died three years later and he spent a short time in an orphanage before being adopted by Essa and Armen Best. They asked him what he wanted to be called, and he said “Jimmie.”
Best learned boxing skills from his adoptive father and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps during his early life.
He later acted in New York, moving to films and stayed busy with roles in 83 films over his career.
However, his role as Rosco P. Coltrane made James Best a household name.
“In many ways, it (his role as Coltrane) 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,'” his obituary reads.
Sheriff Rosco was always trying to catch cousins Bo and Luke Duke. He loved to quip “cuff ’em and stuff ’em” when he caught them or anyone else on the show.
And Rosco had a great love for his basset hound ‘Flash.’ Many people have named their dogs ‘Flash’ through the years.
Stars from the Dukes of Hazzard expressed their condolences for Best.
“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,” said Tom Wopat, who played Luke Duke.
Co-star John Schneider, who played Bo Duke, added this on working with Best:
“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.”
Sonny Shroyer, who played Deputy Enos Strate, also had this to say:
“James Best will go down as one of the greatest actors that ever lived—a great friend and the only sheriff I ever really loved. I will always miss him calling me “dipstick.” I know he loved me and I loved him.”
Private arrangements are pending. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to a local humane society of choice.