Dukes Of Hazzard actor dies aged 88
Published 07/04/2015 | 17:21
The prolific actor best known for his role as Sheriff Rosco P Coltrane in The Dukes Of Hazzard has died aged 88.
James Best's wife, Dorothy, said he died last night in hospice care from complications of pneumonia.
Best starred in the television series which ran from 1979 to 1985 as the lawman chasing the Duke brothers.
Dorothy Best said they had been married 29 years and that he is survived by children and grandchildren.
She said he was an incredible man and an incredible talent.
Best employed a battery of catchphrases in the role, often in the company of his droopy-faced basset hound Flash, as well as a memorable laugh that was comically villainous.
During a wide-ranging career dating several decades, he also acted in films 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.
"On set 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 US army in the Second World War and began as an actor in a military theatre company, according to his website.