This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page . (Learn how and when to remove these template messages)
Jewel Franklin Guy
July 26, 1926
Powderly, Kentucky, U.S.
|Died||April 6, 2015 88) (aged|
Hickory, North Carolina, U.S.
|Television||The Dukes of Hazzard|
|Relatives|| Don and Phil Everly (cousins)|
Michael Damian (son-in-law)
Jewel Franklin Guy (July 26, 1926 – April 6, 2015), known professionally as James Best, was an American television, film, stage, and voice actor, as well as a writer, director, acting coach, artist, college professor, and musician. During a career that spanned more than 60 years, he performed not only in feature films but also in scores of television series, as well as appearing on various country music programs and talk shows. Television audiences, however, perhaps most closely associate Best with his role as the bumbling Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane in the action-comedy series The Dukes of Hazzard , which originally aired on CBS between 1979 and 1985. He reprised the role in 1997 and 2000 for the made-for-television movies The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! and The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood (2000).
Best was born on July 26, 1926, in Powderly, Kentucky, to Lark and Lena (née Everly) Guy. née Knowland; 1896–1988) and went to live with them in Corydon, Indiana.Lena Guy's brother was Ike Everly, the father of the pop duo the Everly Brothers. 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 (
Best served in the United States Army Air Forces in World War II, training in 1944 in Biloxi, Mississippi, as a gunner on a B-17 bomber; but by the time he completed his training the war had almost ended, so he was assigned to the army's law enforcement section. In the military police, as an "MP", Best served in war-torn Germany immediately after the Nazi government's surrender in May 1945. While stationed in Germany, Best soon transferred from the military police to an army unit of actors, who traveled around Europe performing plays for troops. Those experiences formed the beginning of his acting career.
Best began his contract career in 1949 at Universal Studios, where he met fellow actors Julie Adams, Piper Laurie, Tony Curtis, Mamie Van Doren and Rock Hudson. Initially, he performed in several uncredited roles for Universal, such as in the 1950 film One Way Street , but credited performances soon followed that same year in the Westerns Comanche Territory , Winchester '73 , and Kansas Raiders . Work in that genre continued to be an important part of his ongoing film career, including roles in The Cimarron Kid (1952), Seven Angry Men (1955) in which he portrays one of the sons of abolitionist John Brown, Last of the Badmen (1957), Cole Younger Gunfighter (1958), Ride Lonesome (1959), The Quick Gun (1964), and Firecreek (1968). Yet Best's film roles are not limited to Westerns. He also stars in the 1959 science fiction cult movie The Killer Shrews and in its 2012 sequel Return of the Killer Shrews , as Rhidges in the 1958 film adaptation of Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead , as Carter in the James Stewart classic Shenandoah , as Dr. Ben Mizer in the 1966 comedy Three on a Couch , and as the cross-dressing Dewey Barksdale in the 1976 drama Ode to Billy Joe . He also played Burt Reynolds’s partner Cully in the 1978 movie “Hooper”.
Best guest-starred more than 280 times in various television series. In 1954, he played the outlaw Dave Ridley, opposite Gloria Winters as the female bandit "Little Britches" in an episode of Stories of the Century . In 1954, Best appeared twice on the syndicated Annie Oakley series, starring Gail Davis and Brad Johnson. In 1955, he played Jim Blake on The Lone Ranger, Season 4, Episode 47, along with Clayton Moore & Jay Silverheels. 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 sitcom The People's Choice and in the David Janssen crime drama Richard Diamond, Private Detective .
Best made four appearances on the syndicated anthology series Death Valley Days . His first role was as miner "Tiny" Stoker in the 1955 episode "Million Dollar Wedding". In the story line, Stoker, in a bet with two of his cohorts, proposes marriage to a presumably plain woman in their community, Aggie Filene (played by Virginia Lee, an actress who lived from 1924 to 2008). Soon, though, the couple falls madly in love with each other and goes on a worldwide honeymoon tour with proceeds from a gold strike that they had nearly forfeited. And Aggie returns to the mining camp as a beautiful woman.
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 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 1961 he guest-starred in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Make My Death Bed". 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.[ citation needed ]
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 (three times), Laramie (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 , 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 , Combat! , The Green Hornet ("Deadline For Death"), The Mod Squad , I Spy , The Fugitive and Flipper . He made a guest appearance on Honey West "A Matter of Wife and Death" (episode 4) in 1965.
Best's highest-profile role was as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on CBS's The Dukes of Hazzard . He appeared during the entire run of the program, from 1979 until the end of the series in 1985. He later revealed that the caricature-like persona of Sheriff Coltrane was developed from a voice he used when playing with his young children.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 often improvised 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.
In 1991, in contrast to the comical Rosco Coltrane of The Dukes of Hazzard, Best appeared in an episode of the NBC crime drama In the Heat of the Night . He portrayed retired sheriff and repentant killer Nathan Bedford in the episode "Sweet, Sweet Blues."
In August 2008, Best was presented the Florida Motion Picture and Television Association's Lifetime Achievement Award.
Best later moved to Florida and taught at the University of Central Florida (Orlando). After semi-retiring, he administered a production company and accepted occasional acting roles. He also developed a reputation as an artist for his paintings of landscapes, scenes from The Dukes of Hazzard, and other subjects. Later, after residing for a while on Lake Murray near Columbia, South Carolina, he moved once again, this time to Hickory, North Carolina.
An acting coach too, Best taught drama and acting techniques for more than 25 years 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 BearManor 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."
Best had a son, Gary, with his first wife. In 1959, Best married his second wife, Jobee Ayers. The couple had two daughters, Janeen and JoJami, before divorcing in 1977. Janeen is an actress, screenwriter and producer, first as Janeen Best then as Janeen Damian, after her 1998 marriage to actor and producer Michael Damian. Best married his third wife, Dorothy Collier, in 1986.He had three grandchildren.
He enjoyed a wide range of hobbies and interests. He was an accomplished painter, a guitarist,and a black belt in karate; enjoyed writing; and ran his own acting school. His students included Lindsay Wagner, Roger Miller, Glen Campbell, Quentin Tarantino, and Regis Philbin. He was also an animal rights advocate.
Best died on April 6, 2015, in Hickory, North Carolina, from complications of pneumonia at the age of 88.
Prior to his death, Best's former Dukes of Hazzard co-star and longtime 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."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.
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.
David Janssen was an American film and television actor who is best known for his starring role as Richard Kimble in the television series The Fugitive (1963–1967). Janssen also had the title roles in three other series: Richard Diamond, Private Detective; Harry O; and O'Hara, U.S. Treasury.
The Dukes of Hazzard is an American action-comedy television series that was aired on CBS from January 26, 1979, to February 8, 1985. The show aired for 147 episodes spanning seven seasons. It was consistently among the top-rated television series in the late 1970s. The show is about two young male cousins, Bo and Luke Duke, who live in rural Georgia and are on probation for moonshine-running. The young men and their friends and their female cousin Daisy Duke, and other family, have various escapades as they evade the corrupt law officers Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. The young men drive a customized 1969 Dodge Charger nicknamed the General Lee, which became a symbol of the show.
The Dukes of Hazzard is a 2005 American action comedy road film loosely based on the television series of the same name. The film was directed by Jay Chandrasekhar and released on August 5, 2005, by Warner Bros. Pictures. As in the television series, the film depicts the adventures of cousins Bo, Luke, and Daisy, and their Uncle Jesse, as they outfox crooked Hazzard County Commissioner Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane.
Denver Dell Pyle was an American film and television actor and director. He was well known for a number of TV roles from the 1960s through the 1980s, including his portrayal of Briscoe Darling Jr. in several episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, as Jesse Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard from 1979 to 1985, as Mad Jack in the NBC television series The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, as well as the titular character's father, Buck Webb, in CBS's The Doris Day Show. In many of his roles, he portrayed either authority figures, or gruff, demanding father figures, often as comic relief.
Stafford Alois Repp was an American actor best known for his role as Police Chief Miles Clancy O'Hara, opposite Adam West's character on ABC's Batman television series.
Jefferson Davis "J.D." Hogg, known as Boss Hogg, is a fictional character featured in the American television series The Dukes of Hazzard. He was the greedy, unethical commissioner of Hazzard County and the county's political boss. A stereotypical villainous glutton, Boss Hogg almost always wore an all-white suit with a white cowboy hat and regularly smoked cigars. His namesake is Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America. Boss Hogg is one of only three characters to appear in every episode of the TV series, the others being Daisy Duke and Uncle Jesse Duke. The role of Boss Hogg was played by Sorrell Booke, who performed frequently on radio, stage, television and film prior to his role in The Dukes of Hazzard.
William Herman Katt, known as Bill Williams, was an American television and film actor. He is best known for his starring role in the early television series The Adventures of Kit Carson, which aired in syndication from 1951 to 1955.
Parley Edward Baer was an American actor in radio and later in television and film. Despite dozens of appearances in television series and theatrical films, he remains best known as the original "Chester" in the radio version of Gunsmoke, and as the Mayor of Mayberry in The Andy Griffith Show.
Neil Oliver "Bing" Russell was an American actor and Class A minor-league baseball club owner. He was the father of Hollywood actor Kurt Russell and grandfather of ex–major league baseball player Matt Franco and actor Wyatt Russell.
Don Haggerty was an American actor of film and television. Before he began appearing in films in 1947, Haggerty was a Brown University athlete and served in the United States military.
John Arthur Doucette was an American character actor who performed in more than 280 film and television productions between 1941 and 1987. A man of stocky build who possessed a deep, rich voice, he proved equally adept at portraying characters in Shakespearean plays, Westerns, and modern crime dramas. He is perhaps best remembered, however, for his villainous roles as a movie and television "tough guy".
Leo Vincent Gordon was an American character actor and writer. During more than 40 years in film and television he was most frequently cast as a supporting actor playing brutish bad guys but occasionally played more sympathetic roles just as effectively.
Moonrunners is a 1975 action comedy film starring James Mitchum, about a Southern family who runs bootleg liquor. It was reworked four years later into the popular long-running television series The Dukes of Hazzard, so the two productions share many similar concepts. Mitchum had co-starred with his father, Robert Mitchum, in the similar drive-in favorite Thunder Road 18 years earlier, which also focused upon moonshine-running bootleggers using fast cars to elude federal agents. Moonrunners, a B movie, was filmed in 1973 and awaited release for over a year. Its soundtrack reflects the outlaw music boom of the 1970s during which the film was released.
Willis Ben Bouchey was an American character actor who appeared in almost 150 films and television shows. He was born in Vernon, Michigan, but raised by his mother and stepfather in Washington state.
Paul Alden Brinegar Jr. was an American character actor best known for his roles in three Western series: The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Rawhide, and Lancer.
Ross Elliott was an American television and film character actor. He began his acting career in the Mercury Theatre, where he performed in The War of the Worlds, Orson Welles' famed radio program.
Bernard Philip Ofner, better known by his stage name Barney Phillips, was an American film, television, and radio actor. His most prominent roles include that of Sgt. Ed Jacobs on the 1950s Dragnet television series, appearances in the 1960s on The Twilight Zone, in which he played a Venusian living under cover on Earth in "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?", and a supporting role as actor Fletcher Huff in the short-lived 1970s CBS series, The Betty White Show.
William Tyler McVey was an American character actor of film and television.
Rayford Barnes was an American film and TV character actor from Whitesboro, Texas.
Rosco Purvis Coltrane is a fictional sheriff character who appeared in the 1975 film Moonrunners, which inspired the creation of the American TV series The Dukes of Hazzard.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to James Best .|