James Best, who played the memorable Sherrif Roscoe P. Coltrane on the hit TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, passed away yesterday at the age of 88 from complications of pneumonia. The actor played Roscoe P. Coltrane, the longtime rival to the Duke brothers, on all seven seasons of The Dukes of Hazzard, which ran from 1979 to 1985.
The actor was raised in Indiana and ended up moving to New York after serving in World War II. He found work as a fashion model which lead to him being discoverd by a casting agent. He became a contract player for Universal Pictures. He appeared in a number of films throughout the 1950s such as Winchester '73 alongside James Stewart and The Cimarron Kid with Audie Murphy. He ended up working in both TV and film throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, appearing in notable episodes of The Twilight Zone, Wagon Train and Have Gun - Will Travel, along with movies such as Rolling Thunder with Tommy Lee Jones, Hooper with Burt Reynolds and Ode to Billy Joe with Robby Benson and Glynnis O'Connor.
James Best's portrayal of Roscoe P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard took his career to new heights. Not only did he stay on the show throughout its seven season run, but the actor also shot two reunion movies and made several appearances at conventions and other fan events. The actor also founded the first ever school teaching the motion-picture technique to actors, with his students including Lindsay Wagner, Roger Miller, Glen Campbell, Quentin Tarantino and Regis Philbin. He is survived by Dorothy Collier, his wife of 29 years; son Gary and daughters JoJami Best Tyler and Janeen Damian; and grandchildren Lauren Best, Cameron Tyler and Tessa Tyler.