DUKES OF HAZZARD Star James Best Dies at Age 88

James Best, known for his role as bumbling Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane in the long-running TV series DUKES OF HAZZARD, passed away last night at the age of 88, according to the Charlotte Observer.

The actor died in hospice in his home after a brief illness due to complications from pneumonia, according to longtime friend and Hollywood colleague, Steve Latshaw.

He began his acting career with an uncredited role in the 1950 film, One Way Street. Best portrayed a variety of characters in a wide spectrum of film genres. Some of his more notable roles include Jason Brown in the 1955 historical drama about the abolitionist John Brown titledSeven 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 ofNorman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead. He played the outlaw Billy John in Ride Lonesome (1959), Dr. Ben Mizer in the 1966 comedyThree on a Couch, the gunfighter Drew in Firecreek (1968), with James Stewart and Henry Fonda, and the cross-dressing Dewey Barksdale in the 1976 drama Ode to Billy Joe.

Best has guest starred more than 280 times on numerous television series. In 1954, he played the outlaw Dave Ridley, opposite Gloria Winters as the female bandit Little Britches in an episode of the Syndicated Stories of the Century, starring and narrated by Jim Davis.[2] In 1954, Best appeared twice in on the Syndicated Annie Oakley series, starring Gail Davis and Brad Johnson. He was cast in the religionanthology series, Crossroads, in the 1956 episode "The White Carnation", along with Elinor Donahue, Ann Doran, and J. Carrol Naish. He was also cast on an episode of Jackie Cooper's early NBC sitcom, The People's Choice and in the David Janssen crime drama, Richard Diamond, Private Detective.

In 1960, Best appeared in the episode "Love on Credit" of CBS's anthology series, The DuPont Show with June Allyson. He starred in Season 3, episode 23 of "The Twilight Zone." In 1963, he was cast as the courageous Wisconsin game warden, Ernie Swift, in the episode "Open Season" of another CBS anthology series, GE True, hosted by Jack Webb. In the story line, Swift faces the reprisal of organized crime after he tickets gangster Frank MacErlane (David McLean) for illegal fishing.[3]

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 including Wagon Train (three times), The Adventures of Kit Carson (twice as Henry Jordan), the western anthology seriesFrontier (twice), Sheriff of Cochise, Pony Express, Rescue 8, Behind Closed Doors, The Texan, The Rebel, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Have Gun - Will Travel,Trackdown, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, Tombstone Territory, Whispering Smith, The Rifleman, Stagecoach West, The Twilight Zone ("The Grave", "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank," and "Jess-Belle"), Wanted: Dead or Alive, Overland Trail, Bat Masterson, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Man and the Challenge, Combat!, The Mod Squad, I Spy, The Fugitive("Terror At High Point"), and In the Heat of the Night.

He also starred in CBS's The Andy Griffith Show as the young guitar player Jim Lindsey in two episodes. [bio source]

Photo courtesy of JamesBest.com

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