James Best

  • Born: July 26, 1926
  • Died: April 6, 2015
  • Location: Hickory, North Carolina


Actor who played 'Dukes of Hazzard' sheriff dies at age 88


RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — The prolific character actor best known for his role as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on "The Dukes of Hazzard" has died. James Best was 88.

His wife of 29 years, Dorothy Best, said Tuesday that Best died Monday night in hospice care from complications of pneumonia.

Best starred on the television series that ran from 1979 to 1985. He was the lawman futilely chasing the Duke boys, often in the company of his droopy-faced basset hound Flash. Best employed a battery of catch phrases in the role, as well as memorable laugh that was comically villainous.

During a wide-ranging career dating several decades, he also acted in movies including "The Cain Mutiny" and "Rolling Thunder," and he appeared on television shows including "Gunsmoke and "The Andy Griffith Show."

"I was fortunate enough to call him my friend since the day he walked on the set of 'Gunsmoke' back in the early '60s," actor Burt Reynolds said in a statement. "Onset or off, behind the scenes, in front of a class or just as a friend, his name was so fitting because he was truly the 'best' at whatever he did. My heart is heavy, and I miss him deeply."

Best was an acting teacher who helped several future Hollywood stars learn how to appear more natural on camera.

"I learned more about acting in front of a camera from Jimmie Best in an afternoon than from anyone else in a year," said Dukes of Hazzard co-star John Schneider, who played Bo Duke. "When asked to cry on camera, he would say, 'Sure thing . which eye?' I'm forever thankful to have cut my teeth in the company of such a fine man."

Best was the youngest of eight siblings born in the western Kentucky community of Powderly. After his mother died when he was a toddler, Best was adopted and raised in Indiana. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II and began as an actor in a military theater company, according to his website.

Condolence & Memory Journal

I was very sad to hear about the passing of James Best. I loved Dukes of Hazard as a child. He made the show a success. God Bless Roscoe P. Coltrane

Posted by Brent Guder - Fowler, CO - Friend   June 19, 2016


in tribute to our favorite sheriff, in Hazzard county. I didnt know you had passed away so soon. Your memories, on tv, are priceless.
Weather you caught the Duke boys (or not), your character, on tv is one for the history books.

Posted by Angela Farrell/Lendt - Boone, IA - weekly fan of TDoH   July 09, 2015

friend!!! I'm glad that not going to church hasn't stop the cotimnicaumon between you and God. He is amazing I tell ya... all we have to do is keep him up to speed by talking to him!I'm so happy you got some love when you returned... I knew you would!! I can already tell your kiddos LOVE you at school!!! Glad you survived your first day back.Cheers to many more blissful days at work and after work with your presh baby!

Posted by Hamed - JkkrrKjxf, UT - KWQqDFpZtEM   June 14, 2015


Thank you James for all the laughs through the years, thank God, we have have film, we will be able to see you again and our grandchild and their grandchildren, etc.. Sleep Well, D

Posted by Deb - Port Charlotte, FL - Family is a fan   April 16, 2015

I grew up with this man and the show as I lived in South Dakota as a child. I never missed the show and enjoyed ever moment of this wonderful man.

Posted by Dana Brewer - Cedar Lake, IN - A Fan   April 13, 2015


He was a good man and a good actor. I'm sorry for your loss? I was fan of him. My brother in law mark loved him too.

Posted by kristine michaelson - milford, MI - fan member   April 12, 2015

You will be missed, the world is a little less wonderful with your passing. You left a permanent void in so many lives, including ours. RIP Mr Best, Larry and Nancy Doyle

Posted by Larry and Nancy Doyle - Lenexa,, KS - Fans   April 10, 2015


Posted by DARRELL HAMBY - CONOVER, NC   April 09, 2015

James brought that "something to look forward to" feeling to all of us at Mayberry Days every year. He will surely be missed. God Bless.

Posted by Joe Haskins - Blounts Creek, NC - Friend   April 09, 2015



Posted by susan phillips - west lafayette, IN - no   April 09, 2015

Leave a condolence or a memory.

Posted by Damien Wisniewski - Mount Holly, NC   April 09, 2015

Thank you

Posted by Bryan - Aliquippa, PA - Fan   April 08, 2015

Goodnight, Johnny Rob. You were top of the old school; a gentleman actor of immense talent and on screen compassion that characterized every role you played. It was truly an honor to have known you as a friend and certainly as a fan. You were simply the "Best" of the best, and I will like the world much less without you being here. God's speed, kind sir.

Posted by Phillip Bunn - Bailey, NC - friend   April 08, 2015

My prayers for the family and to say he was a hell of an actor.

Posted by william - columbia, TN   April 08, 2015


God bless

Posted by Andreaasbury - New Castle. Va, VA - Fan   April 07, 2015

we loved watching james he was a good actor he will be missed
.sorry for loss

Posted by darlene johnson - ashe country, NC - no   April 07, 2015

My husband and I remember watching the Dukes Of Hazard when we were younger. Our thoughs and prAYERS goes out to the whole family. You will never be forgotten. RIP

Posted by corina - IL - fan   April 07, 2015

RIP Sheriff Rosco P Coltrane

Posted by Greg Wright - VA - Fan   April 07, 2015

Such a fond reminder of my childhood! James was a classic. It's comforting to know that God did not intend for us to experience sickness, suffering, and death, and it's reassuring to know that "From the power of the Grave [God] will redeem [us]; From death [He] will recover [us]." (Hosea 13:14)

Posted by NM    April 07, 2015

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RIP Sheriff Rosco P Coltrane