The Dukes of Hazzard stars Tom Wopat and John Schneider said they were shocked when they went to get a spare tire from the trunk of The General Lee, and a crew member leapt out with a crowbar.
The Duke Boys told the story while filming the behind-the-scenes commentary for The Dukes of Hazzard Season 3 DVD. The two swap stories and playfully rag on each other throughout the taping. But it was Wopat who urged Schneider to tell the “Ernie” story.
Schneider explained that The General Lee frequently had flat tires during filming. Sometimes a flat would put them out of commission for a few minutes, sometimes hours. One day, though, they had three flats in a single afternoon. When they went to get the spare out of the trunk, Ernie, a member of The Dukes of Hazzard Craft services team, jumped out of the trunk holding a crowbar.
“You guys have another flat tire!” Schneider recalled him saying, laughing.
The duo made it seem as if these kinds of pranks and fun little in-jokes were common on set. And that matches with how well they’ve gotten along since the show ended in the early 1980s.
“I’m not sure why everybody on Dukes of Hazzard is still so close,” Schneider said later in the commentary track. “They built a family there. They made the young people very aware that this was, in fact, a group effort. So there was never any feeling on ‘Dukes’ like ‘this is my show.’”
Wopat Relives Being Punched on ‘Dukes of Hazzard’
Earlier in the commentary taping, Tom Wopat relived one of the most infamous episodes from the show, “In This Corner, Luke Duke.”
“That’s the one where I got the crap knocked out of me by Sonny Shields,” Wopat said.
The premise of this Dukes of Hazzard episode was that Luke (Wopat) had to win a boxing match to save the Duke’s farm. Unfortunately, the fight promoter was crooked and the boxer in the episode, Catfish Lee, was famous for throwing cheap shots.
Even worse for Wopat was he was fighting Sonny Shields, a boxer and trainer, was the father of Randy Shields. Randy happened to be one of the top welterweight boxers in the world at that time. Sonny had been a fighter most of his life, “and looked like it, too,” John Schneider added.
Sonny Shields also enjoyed throwing cheap shots during filming, Wopat said.
“I’d be in there doing the thing, and (the director would) yell cut, and he’d give me one more shot after I’d relax,” Wopat said, mimicking taking the hit. “Oh, I had a headache for two weeks, man.”