Denver Pyle Modeled His Character on ‘The Doris Day Show’ After His Father

by John Jamison

Many know Denver Pyle as America’s favorite uncle from “Dukes of Hazzard.” His role of Uncle Jesse on the classic TV show earned him widespread popular recognition. But the talented actor had a prolific career before and after he played that iconic role. And one of his earlier parts on “The Doris Day Show” saw him using his own father as inspiration for the character.

Denver Pyle was already an accomplished character actor before “The Doris Day Show” came calling in the late 1960s. He was so good, in fact, that when he decided to play Buck Webb on the show, he turned down a major movie role for the opportunity.

As Buck Webb on “The Doris Day Show,” Pyle played the owner of a northern California ranch. He was the father of Doris Day’s Doris Martin. And, according to a 1968 clipping from “The Times Record,” Denver Pyle based his fatherly character on his own dad.

“He was a man of tremendous dignity,” Pyle said of his father. And therefore, Buck Webb was too.

Why Did Denver Pyle Choose ‘The Doris Day Show’ Over a Movie Role?

At the time, Denver Pyle had plenty of acting jobs available to him. By the same token, Doris Day was a hot item in the entertainment industry. So when her show wanted to get Denver Pyle involved, it was hard for him to say no. But one of the other opportunities Pyle had offered to him was a big role for a movie in Spain.

As history and this article clearly show, Denver Pyle opted to stay stateside and work on “The Doris Day Show.” But what motivated his decision? Well, the 1968 news clipping can shed some light on this subject, too.

“I decided on the series,” Pyle said in the article. “After all, Spain will always be there, but Doris Day may not always be doing a television series.”

Denver Pyle saw the series opportunity with Doris Day as a once-in-a-lifetime thing. And he was willing to forego the apparent prestige of a big movie role to work on the lighthearted sitcom. The show aired from 1968-1973, and Pyle was only present for the first two seasons. But the decision he made seemed to pay off for him as his career only went up from there.