by Rebecca Macatee | Tue., Apr. 7, 2015 8:57 AM
James Best, an actor best known for his role as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on the original Dukes of Hazzard, has passed away. He was 88.
Best died in hospice after a brief illness of complications from pneumonia, his longtime friend and Hollywood colleague Steve Latshaw told the Charlotte Observer.
The Kentucky-born star most memorably portrayed Sheriff Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard TV series from 1985 to 1989. He would reprise the role again in 1997 for The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion, a TV movie, and even voiced the character in a 2004 video game.
"I acted the part as good as I could," he told the Charlotte Observer in 2009. "Rosco—let's face it—was a charmer. It was a fun thing."
Best, who got his first screen credit in the 1950 western Comanche Territory, acted in over 80 movies and 600 TV shows throughout his lustrous career. He appeared on everything from Alfred Hitchcock Presents to The Andy Griffith Show to Flipper (the original TV series). He worked alongside Humphrey Bogart in 1954's The Caine Mutiny and with Jimmy Stewart in 1965's Shenandoah.
Per the Charlotte Observer, Best taught an acting technique class in Hollywood for 25 years and worked with such celebrities as Gary Busey, Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Teri Garr, Farrah Fawcett and Quentin Tarantino. He also taught courses at the University of Mississippi as well as at the University of Central Florida.
"As a teacher, he influenced a generation of actors," Ben Jones, who played the role of Cooter Davenport on Dukes of Hazzard, told the Charlotte Observer in a statement. "That creative energy and zest for life were there until the end."
His final film was 2013's The Sweeter Side of Life, a Hallmark TV movie written by his daughter, Janeen Damian, and her husband Michael. They are among those surviving the star, along with his wife Dorothy Collier, his other daughter JoJami Best Tyler and her husband, and his son Gary Allen Best and his wife. He has three grandchildren.
Private funeral arrangements are being made, and the family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made the Humane Society.
—Reporting by Lindsay Good