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James Best
James Best
(born Jewel Franklin Guy; July 26, 1926 – April 6, 2015) was an American television, film, character, voice, and stage actor, as well as a writer, director, acting coach, artist, college professor, and musician, whose career spanned seven decades of television. He appeared as a guest on various country music and talk shows. One of the busiest actors in Hollywood, who began his contract career with Universal Studios
Universal Studios
in 1949, Best's long career began in films in 1950, appearing primarily in Westerns, playing opposite Audie Murphy in Kansas Raiders (1950), The Cimarron Kid (1952) and The Quick Gun (1964), Raymond Massey
Raymond Massey
in Seven Angry Men
Seven Angry Men
(1955), George Montgomery in Last of the Badman (1957), Frank Lovejoy
Frank Lovejoy
in Cole Younger
Cole Younger
Gunfighter (1958), and Randolph Scott
Randolph Scott
in Ride Lonesome
Ride Lonesome
(1959). He also starred in the science fiction cult movie, The Killer Shrews
The Killer Shrews
(1959) and its sequel, Return of the Killer Shrews
Return of the Killer Shrews
(2012). He is most noted as playing bumbling Sheriff Rosco Pervis Coltrane in the action/comedy Dukes of Hazzard, a role that he revised in The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! (1997) as his character was now "boss" of Hazzard County as well as sheriff & again in The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood
Hollywood
(2000).

Contents

1 Early years 2 Career

2.1 The Dukes of Hazzard 2.2 Later career

3 Personal life 4 Death 5 Filmography 6 Further reading 7 References 8 External links

Early years[edit] James Best
James Best
was born as Jewel Franklin Guy[1] on July 26, 1926, in Powderly, Kentucky, to Lark and Lena Guy. His mother was the sister of Ike Everly, the father of the pop duo The Everly Brothers.[2] After his mother died of tuberculosis in 1929, then three-year-old James was sent to live in an orphanage. He was later adopted by Armen Best (1897–1984) and his wife, Essa Myrtle (née Knowland; 1896–1988)[3] and went to live with them in Corydon, Indiana. He served honorably in the United States
United States
Army in World War II, training in 1944 in Biloxi, Mississippi, as a gunner on a B-17 bomber; but by the time he finished training the war was almost at an end and he joined the Military Police. As an MP, Best played a role in bringing stability to war-torn Germany immediately after their surrender. While stationed in Germany, Best transferred out of the MP and joined a special services unit of actors for the US Army that travelled around Europe performing plays for the troops. This was the true beginning of his acting career.[4] Career[edit]

Best with Andy Griffith
Andy Griffith
on CBS's The Andy Griffith
Andy Griffith
Show (1961)

Best began his screen acting career with an uncredited role in the 1950 film One Way Street. Some of his more notable roles include Jason Brown in the 1955 historical drama about the abolitionist John Brown titled Seven Angry Men
Seven Angry Men
and as Kit Caswell in the 1958 western Cole Younger, Gunfighter, based on the infamous outlaw. He was further cast as Private Ridges in the 1958 film adaptation of Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead. He played the outlaw Billy John in Ride Lonesome (1959), Dr. Ben Mizer in the 1966 comedy Three on a Couch, the gunfighter Drew in Firecreek
Firecreek
(1968), with James Stewart
James Stewart
and Henry Fonda, and the cross-dressing Dewey Barksdale in the 1976 drama Ode to Billy Joe. Best guest-starred more than 280 times in numerous television series. In 1954, he played the outlaw Dave Ridley, opposite Gloria Winters
Gloria Winters
as the female bandit "Little Britches" in an episode of Stories of the Century.[5] In 1954, Best appeared twice on the syndicated Annie Oakley series, starring Gail Davis
Gail Davis
and Brad Johnson. He was cast in the religion anthology series Crossroads, in its 1956 episode "The White Carnation." He was also cast on an episode of Jackie Cooper's early NBC
NBC
sitcom The People's Choice and in the David Janssen
David Janssen
crime drama Richard Diamond, Private Detective.[6]

L-R: James Best, Laura Devon, and Anne Francis
Anne Francis
in "Jess-Belle", an episode of The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone
(1963)

In 1960, Best appeared in the episode "Love on Credit" of CBS's anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson. The same year, he guest-starred on The Andy Griffith
Andy Griffith
Show as "The Guitar Player" (Season 1, Episode 3 and 31). He starred in three episodes of The Twilight Zone including "The Grave" (Season 3, Episode 7), "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank," (Season 3, Episode 23) and "Jess-Belle" (Season 4, Episode 7). In 1963, he was cast as the courageous Wisconsin
Wisconsin
game warden, Ernie Swift, in the episode "Open Season" of another CBS anthology series, GE True, hosted by Jack Webb. In the storyline, Swift faces the reprisal of organized crime after he tickets gangster Frank MacErlane (David McLean) for illegal fishing.[7] In 1962, he played the part of Art Fuller in the episode "Incident of El Toro" on CBS's Rawhide; and in 1963, he returned to play Willie Cain in the episode "Incident at Spider Rock." Best made two guest appearances on Perry Mason. In 1963 he played title character Martin Potter in "The Case of the Surplus Suitor," and in 1966 he played defendant and oilman Allan Winford in "The Case of the Unwelcome Well." He appeared on a long list of other television series in the 1950s and 1960s, including Wagon Train
Wagon Train
(three times), The Adventures of Kit Carson (twice as Henry Jordan), the western anthology series Frontier (twice), The Rebel, Bonanza, Sheriff of Cochise, Pony Express, Rescue 8, Behind Closed Doors, The Texan, Gunsmoke, Have Gun – Will Travel, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, Tombstone Territory, Whispering Smith, Trackdown, The Rifleman, Cheyenne, Stagecoach West, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Overland Trail, Bat Masterson, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Man and the Challenge, Combat!, The Green Hornet ("Deadline For Death"), The Mod Squad, I Spy, and The Fugitive.Stagecoach West, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Overland Trail, Bat Masterson, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Man and the Challenge, Combat!, The Green Hornet
The Green Hornet
("Deadline For Death"), The Mod Squad, I Spy, and The Fugitive.[6] The Dukes of Hazzard[edit] Best played Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on CBS's The Dukes of Hazzard from the debut of the program in 1979 until the end of the series in 1985. That role was Best's most visible success. He later revealed that the caricature-like persona of Sheriff Coltrane was developed from a voice he used when playing with his young children.[8] On set, Best was particularly close to Sorrell Booke, who played the character of Boss Hogg, who was both the boss and the brother-in-law of Rosco. The two actors became close friends; and according to interviews by the series' creators, the two would often improvise their scenes together, making up their own dialogue as they went along. Until his death, he also remained close to Catherine Bach, who played the character of Daisy Duke; and long after the show's cancellation, she was a regular visitor to the website dedicated to Best's painting.[9] Later career[edit] In 1991, in contrast to the comical Rosco Coltrane of The Dukes of Hazzard, Best appeared in an episode of the NBC
NBC
crime drama In the Heat of the Night. He won the Crystal Reel Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Nathan Bedford in the episode "Sweet, Sweet Blues," directed by Vincent McEveety and written by William James Royce. Best plays a retired Sheriff and repentant killer who has to come to terms with being involved in the death of now Sparta police officer Sweet's grandfather.[10] Best later moved to Florida
Florida
and taught at the University of Central Florida
Florida
(Orlando). After semi-retiring, Best ran a production company and took occasional acting roles. He also earned a name for himself as an artist and painter. Best formerly resided in Lake Murray, South Carolina, before moving once again, this time to Hickory, North Carolina. An acting coach, Best taught drama and acting techniques for more than a quarter century in Los Angeles. He also served as artist-in-residence and taught drama at the University of Mississippi (Oxford) for two years prior to his stint on The Dukes of Hazzard. In 2009, he completed his autobiography Best In Hollywood: The Good, The Bad and The Beautiful. The book, published in 2009 through Bear Manor Media, premiered at the Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Aberdeen, Maryland.[citation needed] On November 9, 2014, Best and fellow actor Robert Fuller (along with their wives) attended the 100th birthday celebration of lifelong friend and fellow actor Norman Lloyd. Best said, "I had the honor to have been directed by Norman in a Hitchcock episode called "The Jar." Having worked with hundreds of directors in my career, I found very few that had Norman's qualities. He was most kind, gracious and patient with his actors. He is in all respects a complete gentleman in his personal life and I found it a genuine pleasure just to be in the presence of such a talented man. I am also doubly honored to consider him my friend. We are so blessed to have such a man among us for so long."[11] Personal life[edit] In 1959, Best married his second wife, Jobee Ayers. The couple had two daughters, Janeen and Jojami. They divorced in 1977. Best also had a son, Gary, from a previous marriage. He married his third (and last) wife, Dorothy Collier, in 1986.[citation needed] His niece is actress Jennifer Lyons.[citation needed] He enjoyed a wide range of hobbies and interests. He was an accomplished painter,[1] a Black Belt in Karate,[1] enjoyed writing (poetry, songs and stories),[1] and ran his own acting school (students included Lindsay Wagner, Roger Miller, Glen Campbell, Quentin Tarantino, and Regis Philbin).[1] He was also an animal rights advocate.[1] Death[edit] Best died on April 6, 2015, in Hickory, North Carolina, from complications of pneumonia at the age of 88.[12] Prior to his death, Best's former Dukes of Hazzard co-star and long-time friend, John Schneider, said; "I laughed and learned more from Jimmie in one hour, than from anyone else in a whole year." He also added that, when asked to cry for the camera, "(Best) would say, 'sure thing, which eye?' I'm forever thankful to have cut my teeth in the company of such a fine man."[13] Nearly one year after Best's death, Schneider said about his working relationship with Best: "He was amazing in everything he did; he was not just a funny guy. In fact, I think the comedic timing came to him later on in life because before that he was a very serious actor. I was very fortunate to have grown up working with people like Jimmie Best and Denver Pyle and Sorrell Booke. Incredibly talented men, incredibly talented actors."[14] Filmography[edit]

Winchester '73
Winchester '73
(1950) as Crater Comanche Territory (1950) as Sam Kansas Raiders (1950) as Cole Younger Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man
Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man
(1951) as Tommy Nelson (Arthur Franz's stand-in) The Battle at Apache Pass
The Battle at Apache Pass
(1952) as Cpl. Hassett The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
(1953) as an unnamed radar operator Seminole (1953) as Capt. Gerard Riders to the Stars
Riders to the Stars
(1954) as Sidney K. Fuller The Caine Mutiny (1954) as Lieutenant Jorgensen (uncredited) Return from the Sea (1954) as Barr Seven Angry Men
Seven Angry Men
(1955) as Jason Brown Cheyenne (1955 TV series)
Cheyenne (1955 TV series)
("Sweet Sam") as Unknown and ("Satonka") as Ernie Riggins The Adventures of Champion (1955 TV series) ("The Stone Heart") as Paul Kenyon Calling Homicide
Calling Homicide
(1956) as Arnie Arnholf Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Planet
(1956) as an unnamed crewmember The Naked and the Dead (1958) as Pvt. Rhidges The Left Handed Gun
The Left Handed Gun
(1958) as Tom Folliard Trackdown (1958) as Bud Ehlers Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Death Sentence (1958, Season 3, Episode 30) as Norman Frayne The Killer Shrews
The Killer Shrews
(1959) as Thorne Sherman Verboten!
Verboten!
(1959) as David Brent Ride Lonesome
Ride Lonesome
(1959) as Billy John The Andy Griffith
Andy Griffith
Show (TV series, 1960–1968) as Jim Lindsey ("The Guitar Player", Season 1, Episode 31 and "The Guitar Player Returns", 1961) The Mountain Road
The Mountain Road
(1960) as Niergaard "Wagon Train" ("The Colonel Harris Story") (1960) as Bowman Lewis, Comanche Chief Bonanza
Bonanza
("The Fugitive") as Carl Reagan The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone
(TV series, 1959–1964)

"The Grave" (1961) as Johnny Rob "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank" (1962) as Jeff Myrtlebank "Jess-Belle" (1963) as Billy Ben Turner

Bronco ("The Mountains") (1962) as Frankie Banton The Rifleman
The Rifleman
(TV series, 1958–1963) as Barrett ("The Day the Town Slept") (1962) Shock Corridor
Shock Corridor
(1963) as Stuart Couter Perry Mason
Perry Mason
("The Case of the Surplus Suitor") (1963) as Potter The Fugitive ("Terror at High Point") (1963) Combat!
Combat!
(1964) as Trenton Shenandoah (1965) as Carter Gunsmoke
Gunsmoke
With a Smile (TV Episode 1963) Flipper (1965) as Dr. Peter Kellwin The Virginian ("Letter of the Law") (1965) (TV series, 1962–1971) as Curt Westley Three on a Couch
Three on a Couch
(1966) as Dr. Ben Mizer The Guns of Will Sonnett
The Guns of Will Sonnett
("Meeting at Devil's Fork") (1967) Firecreek
Firecreek
(1968) as Drew Gunsmoke
Gunsmoke
(1969) as Charlie Noon Sounder (1972) as Sheriff Young Savages (1974) as Sheriff Hamilton Ode to Billy Joe (1976) as Dewey Barksdale Nickelodeon (1976) as Jim Rolling Thunder (1977) as Texan Hooper (1978) as Cully The End (1978) as Pacemaker Patient Centennial (TV miniseries, 1978) as Hank Garvey The Dukes of Hazzard
The Dukes of Hazzard
(TV series, 1979–1985) as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane The Dukes (TV cartoon series, 1983) as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane In the Heat of the Night (TV series, 1991) as retired Sheriff Nathadford - Crystal Reel Award, Best Actor[10] The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! (1997 TV movie) as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood
Hollywood
(2000 TV movie) as Rosco P. Coltrane Moondance Alexander
Moondance Alexander
(2007) as a friend and storekeeper of the Alexanders (based on the life of real-life daughter Janeen) Return of the Killer Shrews
Return of the Killer Shrews
(2012) as Thorne Sherman The Sweeter Side of Life
The Sweeter Side of Life
(2013) as the father of the protagonist

’’Have Gun Will Travel’’ (?) as one of three parties in danger of being hung includind star Richard Boone and guest star Richard Schallert

Further reading[edit] Best, James; Clark Jim (2009). Best in Hollywood: The Good, The Bad, And The Beautiful. Albany, New York: BearManor Media, 2009; ISBN 1-59393-460-2.

Biography portal Kentucky portal Indiana portal Film
Film
portal Television
Television
portal Education portal Art portal

References[edit]

^ a b c d e f g "Obituary for James Best". jamesbest.com. Retrieved April 9, 2015.  ^ Staff (April 7, 2015). "Dukes of Hazzard's James Best
James Best
Dies at Age 88". CMT. Retrieved April 7, 2015.  ^ Profile, imdb.com; accessed April 7, 2015. ^ Best in Hollywood: The Good, The Bad, And The Beautiful, by James Best with Jim Clark. Albany, 2009. BearManor Media; ISBN 1-59393-460-2. Chapter 3 ^ "Stories of the Century: "Little Britches", June 17, 1954". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved September 16, 2012.  ^ a b James Best
James Best
on IMDb ^ "GE True". Classic Television
Television
Archive. Retrieved March 1, 2013.  ^ James Best
James Best
Interview Part 7: How James Got Started on The Dukes of Hazzard, youtube.com; accessed September 2, 2015. ^ Catherine Bach profile, mtv.com; accessed April 7, 2015. ^ a b Profile Archived November 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., filminflorida.com; accessed April 7, 2015. ^ Best comments on Norman Lloyd
Norman Lloyd
Archived July 31, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., yesweekly.com; accessed April 7, 2015. ^ Washburn, Mark (April 7, 2015). "James Best, sheriff of 'Hazzard', dies in Hickory at 88". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved April 7, 2015.  ^ Gary Lane. "'Dukes' John Schneider Remembers the "Best" - The Hollywood
Hollywood
Billboard". The Hollywood
Hollywood
Billboard. Archived from the original on April 22, 2015. Retrieved April 28, 2015.  ^ "Actor John Schneider is Living The Dream". Digital Journal. January 7, 2016. Retrieved February 25, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to James Best.

James Best
James Best
on IMDb James Best
James Best
at the TCM Movie Database James Best
James Best
at AllMovie James Best
James Best
Bio at HazzardNet.com James Best
James Best
Crystal Reel Awards Obituary - Legacy

v t e

The Dukes of Hazzard

Episodes

Characters

Bo Duke Luke Duke Daisy Duke Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane Boss Hogg

Television
Television
films

The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! (1997) The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood
Hollywood
(2000)

Remake films

The Dukes of Hazzard
The Dukes of Hazzard
(2005) The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning (2007)

Video games

The Dukes of Hazzard Racing for Home Daisy Dukes It Out Return of the General Lee

Spin-offs

Enos The Dukes

See also

The General Lee Boar's Nest Jerry Rushing "Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard
The Dukes of Hazzard
(Good Ol' Boys)" Moonrunners Hazard Run

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 87104548 LCCN: no92028281 ISNI: 0000 0001 1451 0157 GND: 137749023 SUDOC: 133461777 BNF: cb141556374 (data) MusicBrainz: 7a626bae-20a5-40e3-9f8d-a5199c102

.