Sorrell Booke, who played the famous “Dukes of Hazzard” character J.D. “Boss” Hogg, graduated from Yale and Columbia universities before making it big in television.
At only age 16, Booke enrolled at Columbia University, according to his Buffalo News obituary.
He was a big Shakespeare guy and took on such roles with the school’s drama club. He also spent summers in theater companies and performed at specific theaters like the Provincetown Playhouse in Massachusetts.
The actor graduated from the Ivy League school in three years (1949). He moved on to a Master of Fine Arts degree at the Yale School of Drama.
“Dukes Of Hazzard” Star A War Hero
During his time in school, Booke also learned five languages, including Russian and Japanese.
But the war came calling. Booke served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War for two years and worked as a counterintelligence officer.
According to the website War History Online, Booke never really talked about his war service and Korean War experiences. After the war, he jumped back into theater work by 1960.
From there, Booke found his way to Broadway before enjoying a long career on both movie and television screens. Booke played in movies like “Bank Shot” and “The Iceman Cometh.”
Famous M*A*S*H actor Alan Alda and Booke made their film debut on “Gone Are The Days!” in 1964.
He had TV roles in “M*A*S*H,” “All In The Family,” and eventually worked as a fictional foil to those Duke boys in “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
Booke died from colorectal cancer at just 63.
Yankee Booke Portrayed A Southerner
Booke grew up in the Buffalo, N.Y. area. He was a jokester during those days, learning impressions and quips to make friends and influence people.
By the time he got to “Dukes of Hazzard,” the actor had mastered his craft. According to the website Amomama, the show’s producers asked him to wear a fat suit to add to Hogg’s presence on the show. The foam rubber costume added five feet of girth to his short stature, making him a 52-inch large at the waist.
Show producers supported Booke and show co-star James Best (Roscoe P. Coltrane) and let them ad-lib their scenes together. Both men were great friends.
According to IMDB, Bo Duke actor John Schneider recounted Booke spoke Japanese very well. Booke and guest star Andrew Robinson, who also spoke Japanese, played a trick on Best for one scene by talking the entire scene in the Asian language. Schneider also recalled Booke getting consumed in his character role, eating the same food he thought the Hogg character would.
According to War History Online, Booke’s Hogg character, Catherine Bach’s Daisy Duke, and Uncle Jesse Duke, played by Denver Pyle, were the only three “Dukes of Hazzard” stars to appear in every episode.