In the much-loved TV show The Dukes of Hazzard, broadcast from 1979 to 1985, Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane was the inept sidekick of corrupt crook Boss Hogg. Sheriff Coltrane was guaranteed to accidentally mess up Hogg’s nefarious plans in just about every episode. James Best, a hugely experienced actor, played the sheriff with apparent gusto. But few will know that Best’s C.V. also included a spell with the U.S military during and after WWII.
James Best was born in 1926 in Powderly, Kentucky, with the name Jewel Franklin Guy. His father was Lark Guy, his mother was Lena, and they already had eight children, seven boys and a solitary girl, when James was born. James’ family obviously had some showbiz genes – his cousins were the hugely successful vocal duo, the Everly Brothers.
Tragedy darkened the young boy’s life when he was just three years old. Afflicted with tuberculosis, Best’s mother died in 1929. The child now went into an orphanage for a spell before he was adopted by a couple called Best, Armen and his wife Essa. They took him into their home in Corydon, Indiana.