While this might be hard to believe, Dukes of Hazzard star Tom Wopat reveals that acting was never really on his radar. In fact, he would probably rather have become a great singer. When Wopat was originally offered the chance to star in the CBS show, he didn’t know what to really expect at all.
“Singing has always been my number one priority,” Wopat told Fox News Digital. “Dukes was really kind of an aberration. I never really aspired to do television. I put my focus on making records, doing live shows, and being in the theater. But Dukes really was a ride.” So, at that time, Wopat, 77, just finished up working on an off-Broadway production of the famed Oklahoma! and he was in New York City.
‘Dukes of Hazzard’ Star Tom Wopat Originally Wanted A Music Career
Well, a casting director, who had seen Wopat on stage, felt like the actor would be a really good fit for this new sitcom. “They had everyone lined up by then,” Wopat explained to Fox News. “I was asked to go to Los Angeles for a screen test. So I took a paper bag full of clothes and got on a plane. I met John [Schneider] on a Wednesday, we did a test on a Friday and 10 days later we were shooting in Georgia.”
The show, though, was facing some grief even before premiering in 1979. B. Donald Grant, the network’s programming boss then, would find himself in a room with TV critics who hated the show. The critics objected that “the two male leads appear to be on the wrong side of the law, that the subject of illegitimate parenthood was treated humorously, and that one of the female regulars is often seen in a skimpy costume,” The Hollywood Reporter revealed.
Grant would ignore the critics and put Dukes of Hazzard on CBS. The outlet indicated the show drew as many as 20 million viewers per episode. By the show’s third season, it became the second-biggest show on TV. Dukes of Hazzard ended in 1985 but the show ran for years in constant syndication. This would keep the cast consisting of Wopat, Schneider, and Catherine Bach busy meeting fans at conventions.
“You can never tell when something’s gonna pop,” Wopat said. “But some time in the first year, we just knew we had something amazing here. The fans are unique in that they hand down their love for the show from generation to generation. I’ve met third- and fourth-generation fans. It’s amazing. It’s a gift. The show will long outlive me, that’s for sure.”