Tuesday, April 07, 2015

RIP James Best

James Best is gone.

'Dukes of Hazzard' star James Best dead at 88

Most of you likely knew him as good-natured but bumbling Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane from The Dukes of Hazzard TV show, but he was much more than that.

Following his service in the Army in World War Two, a young James Best took up acting and began a career that crossed decades. He was a bit player and character actor in many, many movies and TV shows, and he worked with most of the greats at one time or another, including James Stewart, Audie Murphy, John Wayne, Stewart Hayden, Clint Eastwood, and pretty much anyone who was anyone in film or TV in the 1950s through the 1970s. He even worked several times with another Western-genre character actor who also attained his greatest fame on The Dukes, and that was Denver Pyle. Pyle and James Best were real-life best friends from their first role together in The Left-Handed Gun (starring Paul Newman) in 1958 until Pyle passed away on Christmas day, 1997.

I always looked for him in the old westerns that I tend to favor over the modern tripe that Hollywood barfs out these days, and he never disappointed. My loss, he was here in Hagerstown, MD a couple of years back, signing autographs at a fair (in character as Coltrane) and I did not go for some reason, though I'd planned to. I would loved to have met the man and thanked him for brightening so many of my days in his earlier works. Those who worked with him described him as a truly gifted and professional actor the likes of which we don't see today. And with James Best's passing, the silver screen grows a little less silver.

Here's a clip from one of his appearances on the Andy Griffith Show. He and Andy were also long-time good friends.



  1. I was shocked to find out that he was a first cousin to The Everly Brothers. RIP

  2. Truly a great character actor! He will be missed.

  3. Very sad indeed. Loved him in the Dukes of Hazzard

  4. And he was a teacher. Not to mention what I discovered from watching an old Twilight Zone episode the night before he died - he was downright hunky.

  5. Anonymous5:14 PM

    A great actor and man RIP