Virtually any American TV viewer alive in the 1970s or ’80s remembers Sorrell Booke as the greedy, corrupt, and still somehow lovable Boss Hogg on “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
Virtually any American TV viewer alive in the 1970s or ’80s remembers Sorrell Booke (Jan. 4, 1930 – Feb. 11, 1994) as the greedy, corrupt and still somehow lovable Boss Hogg on The Dukes of Hazzard. Booke died 20 years ago today, leaving behind a life story with more surprises than Hazzard County has car ramps. In honor of his passing, here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about Sorrell Booke.
1. Booke once conducted the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in his hometown of Buffalo, New York.
2. Booke was only mildly overweight, so he wore a fat suit to create the corpulent character of Boss Hogg. The suit brought his girth to 5 feet around.
3. Producers of The Dukes of Hazzard encouraged the comedic chemistry between Booke and co-star James Best, who played Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, and often allowed the pair to ad-lib their scenes together.
4. During the Korean War, Booke served as a counterintelligence officer.
5. Booke could have called Sheriff Rosco a “dipstick” in multiple languages, as he was fluent in five.
6. Booke was an Ivy League man, having earned degrees from both Yale and Columbia.
7. In addition to The Dukes of Hazzard, Booke appeared in many landmark shows from the 1970s and ’80s like M*A*S*H, Soap and in a recurring role on All in the Family.
8. Booke ate raw liver, Boss Hogg’s favorite dish, in order to more fully immerse himself in the character.
9. As Booke’s health declined, he kept busy with voice acting. Careful ears can catch him in specials from Tiny Toon Adventures and Scooby-Doo in the late 1980s and early ’90s.
10. One of Booke’s last live-action roles was as Santa Claus in a 1988 Full House Christmas special.
Sadly, Booke died of cancer in 1994 at 64, years before Hazzard reunion specials and a feature film brought the General Lee out of retirement. He was survived by his two children and legions of Hazzard fans.
Written by Seth Joseph