Sorrell Booke played the part of Boss Hogg on The Dukes of Hazzard.
|Birthdate:||January 4, 1930|
|Birthplace:||Buffalo, New York, U.S.|
|Deathdate:||February 11, 1994 (aged 64)|
Sorrell Booke (January 4, 1930 – February 11, 1994) was an American actor who performed on stage, screen, and television. He is best known for his role as the corpulent, corrupt politician Jefferson Davis "Boss" Hogg in the television show The Dukes of Hazzard.
Booke was born in Buffalo, New York, a cousin of Max Yasgur of Woodstock fame. Fluent in five languages, Booke earned degrees from both Columbia and Yale universities. He served in the Korean War as a counterintelligence officer. Booke was married to the former Miranda Knickerbocker (the daughter of Hubert Renfro Knickerbocker (1898–1949), a Pulitzer prize-winning war correspondent) from 1958 to 1973. They had two children, Alexandra and Nicholas. Booke has a brother, Fred.
Booke came to Hollywood via a theatre degree from Yale University and a decade on the New York Stage. One prominent early role was that of Senator Billboard T. Rawkins in the 1960 revival of Finian's Rainbow, a role foreshadowing his most famous character, that of Boss Hogg in The Dukes of Hazzard. During his early Hollywood acting career, Booke gained acclaim for notable supporting parts in noteworthy 1960s films such as Black Like Me, A Fine Madnesa, and Fail-Safe. In 1962, he was in Fiorello! and starred as the namesake's character.
In 1965, he guest starred as Sgt. Herschel Aronson in episode 19 "Faith, Hope, and Sergeant Aronson" of ABC's 12 O-Clock High military drama. He soon began focusing primarily on television roles in the 1970s and 1980s, and voice acting roles in the 1980s and early 1990s. Booke also once conducted the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Sorrell earned an Emmy Award nomination for his appearance in the NBC series, Dr. Kildare in the episode "What's God to Julius?". He appeared in an episode of Mission: Impossible from the first season in 1966. Booke appeared in two early episodes of M*A*S*H, as General Barker in "Requiem For A Lightweight" and "Chief Surgeon Who?", the latter marked the debut of the character Corporal Klinger, with whom Booke's character had previously dealt. Additionally, Booke had a recurring role in Norman Lear's groundbreaking sitcom All in the Family as Mr. Sanders, personnel manager at Archie Bunker's workplace, Prendergast Tool and Die Company. (He had previously appeared on All in the Family as Lyle Bennett, the manager of a local television station.) Booke was also featured on an episode of the sitcom Good Times, and had a recurring role as the Jewish mob boss Lefkowitz on Soap.
The Dukes of Hazzard (1979–1985)
Booke's most notable role was in The Dukes of Hazzard as the humorously wicked antagonist to Bo and Luke Duke. The series ran on CBS for seven seasons, from 1979–1985 and spawned an animated series, The Dukes (1983), two reunion TV specials (by which time Booke had died, and the character of Boss Hogg was also said to be deceased), a feature film (2005) and The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning (a 2007 TV movie). Initially the character was created as a corrupt, gruff nemesis for the Duke family to battle, but as the series evolved over its first and subsequent seasons, Hogg developed more into a comical money-grabbing villain, more intent on various get-rich-quick schemes and shady plots than ever knowingly causing anyone serious harm. With this evolution of the character came the closer pairing of Hogg and bumbling Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best), and as the pair's comical ability became apparent and a popular element of the series, Booke and Best were often given permission to ad-lib their scenes together. Booke was actually only slightly overweight and wore a fat suit during the entire run of the series, which caused his girth to measure five feet around. He threw himself into the role to the point of eating real raw liver, Boss Hogg's favorite dish, in scenes that called for him to consume it.
Booke had stopped appearing physically in acting roles, but he continued to perform voice work on several television shows and movies, occasionally as narrator, and sometimes as a cartoon character's voice, in such movies as Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers (1987 TV movie), Gravedale High (1990 television series), and Rock-A-Doodle (1991).
Final years and death
Booke continued to work until he died of colorectal cancer in Sherman Oaks, California on February 11, 1994, a month after his 64th birthday. He is interred at the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California. His tombstone reads, "Beloved Pa, Grandpa, Brother and Boss."
- Sorrell Booke at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
- Sorrell Booke at Find a Grave
- More about Sorrell and his character, "Boss Hogg"
- Hazzardnet.com, dedicated to the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, has information about Sorrell Booke and the rest of the cast