While “Dukes of Hazzard” star Sorrell Booke played the role of Hazzard County commissioner, the Boss Hogg actor could speak five languages off-screen.
Growing up, the New York actor enrolled in Columbia University at 16. He graduated from the New York school before going on to get his Masters’s degree at Yale University.
Soon after those degrees, Booke went to the Korean War for two years as a U.S. Army counterintelligence agent. All those languages came in hand for the polyglot or a person who knows and can use several languages.
Other novice internet researchers have guessed that the Jewish-American actor knew and could talk English, Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish, Japanese and Korean.
Booke’s Japanese and Korean fluency could have come from an interest in World War II. Booke could have learned that John Wayne could speak English and Spanish and become interested in learning.
He even had a little fun with his friends during the show’s seven-year run.
According to IMDb, Bo Duke actor John Schneider recounted Booke spoke Japanese very well. Booke and guest star Andrew Robinson (Pruitt/Billy Joe in two episodes), who also spoke Japanese, played a trick on Rosco P. Coltrane actor James Best for one scene by talking the entire scene in the Asian language. Best was confused, and the men all laughed afterward.
Schneider also recalled Booke getting immersed in his distinctive character role, eating the same food he thought his Hogg character would.
“Dukes Of Hazzard” Actor’s Inspiration
For the “Dukes of Hazzard,” the New Yorker said he drew inspiration for Boss Hogg’s voice and southern accent from U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond.
Thurmond served South Carolina as a senator for 48 years (1954-2003). Before that, the man was governor from 1947-1951. Booke picked up on Thurmond’s mannerisms and developed them into the Boss Hogg character.
The actor also played fictional character Senator Billboard T. Rawkins in the 1960 revival of Finian’s Rainbow. The role foreshadowed his Boss Hogg character. Booke played Rawkins, a bigoted and corrupt senator who gets involved in the hunting for a stolen pot of gold near Fort Knox.
According to IMDb, Booke would often make personal appearances as Boss Hogg, wearing his white suit and hat and speaking in a Southern accent. Booke would shock fans, especially children, when he revealed that he was a kind and courteous gentleman in real life.
On another interesting note, Booke was the cousin of Max Yasgur (the owner of the farm where Woodstock was staged).
“Dukes Of Hazzard” Bad Guy Wanted Some Restraint
Over the years of the show, Booke had fun playing bad guy Boss Hogg.
But he didn’t want the character to be invested in all the bad things in the world.
Booke had his show contract include the absence of Hogg doing drugs. He also didn’t want his character to kill people. The show’s writers were happy to oblige the man while still making his character nasty and, at times, somewhat loveable to other show characters.