Put Up Your “Dukes”: James Best’s Three Twilight Zones

James Best is best known for playing Rosco P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard. But he’d much rather be remembered for the three episodes he did for The Twilight Zone — “The Grave,” “The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank” and “Jess-Belle.”

James Best

Says Best:

The Twilight Zone was probably one of the best showcases for future stars. It was terribly enjoyable to me because generally they had good sets, which they used from major feature pictures. I was a big fan of the show. I think I enjoy The Twilight Zone as much if not more than anyone.

“I did The Dukes of Hazzard series for seven years and we had a chain of writers over there — there was so much nepotism they wouldn’t have allowed any good writers to come in other than their own, which is unfortunate. So consequently, I worked seven years for writers who had the imagination of a banana. The material was so hackneyed we did the same show for seven years.

“Now on Twilight Zone, it was really a pleasure working on something that had the quality and the marvelous writers. I was very fortunate that I got to work on The Twilight Zone three times.

“I am going to go to my grave with ‘Rosco P. Coltrane’ on the headstone. I’d much rather go to my demise with ‘He’s in The Twilight Zone‘!”

Put Up Your Dukes

Photos courtesy of Wendy BrydgeFor a daily dose of Serling, you can follow me on TwitterFacebook or Pinterest. You can also get email notifications of future posts by entering your address under “Follow S&S Via Email” on the upper left-hand side of this post. Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!

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About Paul

Hard-working, hard-playing fan of all pop culture, especially the Twilight Zone. Which led to a Twitter page. And then to a blog. And then to ... stay tuned. Yes, that's a picture of Rod Serling, not me. You can find the real me under the "Your Host" tab on my blog, along with biographical details that, while 100 percent accurate, sound kind of boastful and braggy. Sorry.

Posted on 07/09/2011, in Twilight Zone and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I do love Rosco, but James Best’s TZ appearances are some of the show’s most memorable. Jeff Myrtlebank is a personal favourite of mine. Best is simply marvelous in the role. His performance as Jeff had such an endearing quality with just a touch of mystery, which only a few actors can effectively convey.

    I believe that all fans WILL remember him for his roles in The Twilight Zone. And Jeff, Billy-Ben and Johnny Rob will live on forever in the Fifth Dimension.

    • Well put, Wendy — thanks. There are legions of TZ fans, and I believe they’ll always remember the episodes that Best starred in. He took excellent material and really helped bring it to life. Interesting, too, that he acted in three different TZs, and while all are fan favorites, not one was written by Rod Serling.

  2. Wow, I didn’t even realize those roles stared the same actor. He was much better in the Twilight Zone.

    • Yes, it’s great to have a career-defining role, but I think even Hazzard fans have to agree that playing Rosco didn’t exactly push Best’s talent to the limits. Hey, nothing wrong with a fun role, but I’m glad he got a chance on TZ and elsewhere to show he had more range.

  1. Pingback: Making a “Grave” Mistake | Shadow & Substance

  2. Pingback: Remembering the “Forgotten” Twilight Zone Writer | Shadow & Substance

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