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Original Rosco Hopes New Generation Discovers ‘The Dukes’

10 Dec, 2010 By: John Latchem

Actor James Best, known for his iconic portrayal of Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on “The Dukes of Hazzard,” says he enjoys seeing how popular the show has remained more than 30 years after its debut.

“They love it all over the world,” Best said. “We’re now getting into a third generation discovering the show.”

During its 1979-85 run, “The Dukes of Hazzard” was among the highest-rated shows on TV, and Best thinks the reason is clear.

“It had all the ingredients of a successful show,” Best said. “The grandfather figure, two good-looking leading men, Daisy Duke in those short shorts, and me and Boss Hogg scheming, plus a magic flying car.”

Best originally didn’t want to play Rosco. He said he liked the idea of filming the show in Georgia, but he didn’t like how his character was written.

“They wrote Rosco as a very serious part,” Best said. “I said I’ll make him as a 12-year-old who likes hot pursuit. I played him like he was very naïve. It worked well.”

Though every episode of “The Dukes of Hazzard” and its two reunion TV movies have been on DVD for several years, the show’s animated spinoff has not been, until now.

Simply called “The Dukes,” the 1983 series lasted 20 episodes and concerned a race around the world between the Duke boys and Boss Hogg for control of the Duke farm. WBshop.com’s manufacture-on-demand segment Warner Archive now offers The Dukes: The Complete Animated Series as a four-DVD set at $29.95. Warner began shipping the sets Dec. 7, offering the first 400 people who ordered it a copy autographed by Best.

Best said he hopes the cartoon will find new fans of the franchise in the youngsters of the 21st century.

“Warner Bros. is smart coming out with the cartoon now,” he said. “It’s something the whole family can watch. I would love to see people introduce their children to the cartoon. The quality is pretty good.”

The cartoon featured the original cast of the show, Best included, providing the voices for their characters.

“The producers called us and said they were doing a cartoon version and wanted to use all the original cast voices,” Best said. “That in itself was unique. At least they made it comfortable for us. We were in an air-conditioned studio, not the dusty backroads of Georgia. They gave us scripts and we read the dialogue, but we could ad-lib if we wanted to. I just did the same thing I did on the regular show. They wanted the viewers to be able to recognize the characters.”

Best said it was kind of weird to see himself animated, but that feeling didn’t last long.

“It was sort of strange, but I had been in the business for so long nothing really surprises me,” he said.

Now 84, Best is still active in the entertainment world. He recently helped form a movie production company and also spends a lot of time painting, and has sold his artwork all over the world. His talents are on display at JamesBest.com, which also offers autographed copies of his book, Best in Hollywood.

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