I remember seeing the Burt Reynolds/Hal Needham Academy Award nominated movie HOOPER in the late-seventies on TV. Actor James Best played Burt’s good friend Cully (Burt and James were good friends in real life). Since Best was also on THE DUKES OF HAZZARD at the time, I thought “Wow! He’s world-famous! Roscoe P. Coltrane is in everything!” Of course, I was giving him a little more fame than he might have deserved.
But not really.
James Best passed away April 6 at age 88. Reading his obituary, it turns out he wasn’t in “everything,” but he was in quite a lot (187 credits as an actor, according to IMDB). He worked with such luminaries as Sam Fuller and Rod Serling and Budd Boetticher. He was in adaptations of two of my favorite Ray Bradbury stories (THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS adapted from “The Fog Horn” and an Alfred Hitchcock Hour adaptation of “The Jar.”). What really struck me, and, I suppose, prompted me to write this post, was that James Best was also an accomplished playwright. He also wrote songs and poetry, painted and taught acting
Every life has so much to it.
He’ll be remembered for his iconic role as the Sherriff of Hazzard County, but, as with so many of us in the arts, he did so much more.
Tonight’s James Best Fest included:
The Lone Ranger – “Framed for Murder” (season 4, episode 47) 1955
Alfred Hitchcock Presents – “Death Sentence” (season 3, episode 30) 1958
The Andy Griffith Show – “The Guitar Player” (season 1, episode 3) 1960
The Andy Griffith Show – “The Guitar Player Returns” (season 1, episode 31) 1961
The Twilight Zone – “The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank” (season 3, episode 23) 1962
The Dukes of Hazzard – “One Armed Bandits” (season 1, episode 1) 1979