James Best, ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ Star, Dead at 88

The actor who played Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane died due to complications from pneumonia

Last Updated: April 7, 2015 @ 9:58 AM

James Best, the actor best known for playing Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on “The Dukes of Hazzard,” died on Monday. He was 88.

According to an obituary posted on his personal website, Best died at 9:28 p.m. ET on Monday after a brief illness and complications from pneumonia.

Best was born in Powderly, Kentucky in 1926, and served in the U.S. Army Air Corps before turning to a long career in show business. The armed forces, in fact, nurtured his talent, as he joined the military theatrical company after serving as a military police officer in Germany.

Although he began pursuing acting and modeling in New York City after leaving the service, he got his start in Hollywood as a contract player for Universal Studios alongside Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson and Shelley Winters.

To date, Best has racked up 187 acting credits since launching his career in 1950.

His movie roles include “The Caine Mutiny” (1954), “The Raid” (1954)  and “The Left Handed Gun” (1958) before rising to fame on “The Dukes of Hazzard,” the popular CBS series that ran for seven seasons between 1979 and 1985.

“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,” co-star Tom Wopat, who played Luke Duke, said in a statement.

Other TV credits include “The Lone Ranger,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Bonanza” and “Gunsmoke.”

Best, who also directed three “Dukes of Hazzard” episodes, has been married to actress Dorothy Collier since 1986.

He is also survived by son Gary Allen Best and wife Angela, daughter JoJami Best Tyler and husband Eric, and daughter Janeen Damian and husband Michael Damian; and by grandchildren Lauren Best, Cameron Tyler and Tessa Tyler.