Born Jules Guy on July 26, 1926, in Powderly, Kentucky, actor James Best was orphaned at the age of 3. He was eventually adopted by a family in Indiana and renamed James Best. Following high school, Best enlisted in the Army in the mid 1940s, during which time he began to harbor an interest in acting. After his discharge from the Army, he trod the boards in stock company plays until he was spotted by a Universal talent agent. Signing a contract with Universal-International Pictures in 1949, Best's first film role was a bit part in Hugo Fregonese's film noir flick One Way Street (1950; with James Mason and William Conrad). He followed up in a bigger, credited role in the western Comanche Territory (1950; with Maureen O'Hara, Macdonald Carey, and Charles Drake). After several more film roles, Best and Universal-International parted ways in 1953, and afterward he freelanced in a number of films and began making frequent television appearances. Although he became identified with western films and television shows, Best acted in a variety of film genres, including the horror flick The Killer Shrews (1959; with Ken Curtis), war films such as The Naked and the Dead (1958; with Aldo Ray and Barbara Nichols) and Verboten! (1959; with Susan Cummings and Tom Pittman), and film noir crime dramas, including Man on the Prowl (1957; with Mala Powers and Jerry Paris) and Hot Summer Night (1957; with Leslie Nielsen and Colleen Miller). While his film career began to ebb into the 1960s, Best found plenty of work on television in such hit shows as Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone, The Fugitive, and Combat!.

the films of james best

Kansas Raiders (1950)

James Best

James Best as Cole Younger in the Universal-International western Kansas Raiders

Air Cadet (1951)

James Best, Alex Nicol, Charles Drake, Gail Russell, Stephen McNally, Richard Long, and Robert Arthur

From the Universal-International drama Air Cadets with Alex Nicol, Charles Drake, Gail Russell, Stephen McNally, Richard Long, and Robert Arthur

Target Unknown (1951)

Alex Nicol and James Best

From the Universal-International war flick Target Unknown with Alex Nicol

The Cimarron Kid (1952)

James Best

Best as Bitter Creek Dalton in the Universal-International western The Cimarron Kid

Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair (1952)

James Best, Lori Nelson, and Marjorie Main

With Lori Nelson and Marjorie Main in the Universal-International series comedy Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair

Hot Summer Night (1957)

Leslie Nielsen, James Best, and Colleen Miller

With Leslie Nielsen and Colleen Miller in the MGM crime drama Hot Summer Night

Man on the Prowl (1957)

Mala Powers and James Best

With Mala Powers in United Artists' film noir release Man on the Prowl

Cole Younger, Gunfighter (1958)

Frank Lovejoy and James Best

From the Allied Artists western Cole Younger, Gunfighter with Frank Lovejoy

Cast a Long Shadow (1959)

James Best

From the Allied Artists western Cast a Long Shadow

The Killer Shrews (1959)

James Best

From the low-budget horror flick The Killer Shrews

Ride Lonesome (1959)

Karen Steele, James Best, Randolph Scott, Pernell Roberts, and James Coburn

From the Columbia western Ride Lonesome with Karen Steele, Randolph Scott, Pernell Roberts, and James Coburn

Black Gold (1962)

Fay Spain and Claude AkinsJames Best and Fay Spain

From the Warner Bros. period adventure Black Gold with Fay Spain

Shock Corridor (1963)

Peter Breck and James Best

With Peter Breck in the Allied Artists drama Shock Corridor

The Twilight Zone (1959-1964 CBS TV Series)

James Best, Laura Devon, and Anne Francis

From a season four episode of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone with Laura Devon and Anne Francis titled Jess-Belle. This episode originally aired February 14, 1963

Three on a Couch (1966)

James Best, Jerry Lewis, Gina Golan, Leslie Parrish, and Mary Ann Mobley

From the Columbia comedy Three on a Couch with Jerry Lewis, Gina Golan, Leslie Parrish, and Mary Ann Mobley

Sounder (1972)

James Best and Carmen Mathews

Best as Sheriff Young with Carmen Mathews in the well-respected drama Sounder, released by 20th Century-Fox

The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985 CBS TV Series)

Sorrell Booke, Catherine Bach, and James Best

Best as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane with Sorrell Booke and Catherine Bach from the CBS TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, produced by Warner Bros.

later years

James Best is probably best known for his role as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on the hit CBS series The Dukes of Hazzard, which aired from 1979 through 1985. He became heavily identified with the role, and he has worked only occasionally since the series wrapped. In the last few years, he acted in the family film Moondance Alexander (2007; with Don Johnson and Lori Loughlin), which was directed by his son-in-law, Michael Damian. He also acted in Return of the Killer Shrews (2012; with John Schneider) and was a noted acting teacher and artist. Sadly, James Best passed away after a brief illness on April 5, 2015, at the age of 88. He is survived by his third wife, Dorothy, and a son, two daughters, and three grandchildren.

james best dvds available from


The Sweeter Side of Life (2013) with Kathryn Morris
Return of the Killer Shrews (2012) with John Schneider and Bruce Davison
Moondance Alexander (2007) with Don Johnson and Lori Loughlin
Hot Tamale (2006) with Randy Spelling, Carmen Electra, and Jason Priestley
The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood (2000) with Tom Wopat, John Schneider, Catherine Bach, Rick Hurst, Sonny Shroyer, Ben Jones, and Nicholas Coster
Death Mask (1998) with Linnea Quigley
The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! (1997) with Tom Wopat, John Schneider, Catherine Bach, Denver Pyle, Ben Jones, Sonny Shroyer, Rick Hurst, and Stella Stevens
Hooper (1978) with Burt Reynolds, Jan-Michael Vincent, Sally Field, Brian Keith, Robert Klein, and Adam West
The End (1978) with Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Sally Field, Strother Martin, Joanne Woodward, Norman Fell, Myrna Loy, Kristy McNichol, Pat O'Brien, Robby Benson, and Carl Reiner
Rolling Thunder (1977) with William Devane, Tommy Lee Jones, and Dabney Coleman
The Brain Machine (1977) with Gerald McRaney
Nickelodeon (1976) with Ryan O'Neal, Burt Reynolds, Tatum O'Neal, Brian Keith, Stella Stevens, and John Ritter
The Savage Bees (1976) with Ben Johnson, Michael Parks, and Horst Buchholz
Ode to Billy Joe (1976) with Robby Benson and Glynnis O'Connor
The Runaway Barge (1975) with Bo Hopkins, Tim Matheson, Jim Davis, Nick Nolte, and Lucille Benson
Savages (1974) with Andy Griffith, Sam Bottoms, and Noah Beery Jr.
Sounder (1972) with Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, and Kevin Hooks
Run, Simon, Run (1970) with Burt Reynolds, Inger Stevens, Royal Dano, and Joyce Jameson
Firecreek (1968) with James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Inger Stevens, Gary Lockwood, Dean Jagger, Ed Begley, Jay C. Flippen, and Jack Elam
First to Fight (1967) with Chad Everett, Dean Jagger, Bobby Troup, Claude Akins, and Gene Hackman
Three on a Couch (1966) with Jerry Lewis, Janet Leigh, Leslie Parrish, Mary Ann Mobley, and Gila Golan
Shenandoah (1965) with James Stewart, Doug McClure, Glenn Corbett, Patrick Wayne, Rosemary Forsyth, Katharine Ross, Denver Pyle, and George Kennedy
Black Spurs (1965) with Rory Calhoun, Linda Darnell, Scott Brady, Lon Chaney Jr., Bruce Cabot, Richard Arlen, and Terry Moore
The Quick Gun (1964) with Audie Murphy, Merry Anders, and Gregg Palmer
Shock Corridor (1963) with Peter Breck, Constance Towers, and Gene Evans
Black Gold (1962) with Philip Carey, Diane McBain, Fay Spain, Claude Akins, and Dub Taylor
The Mountain Road (1960) with James Stewart, Glenn Corbett, and Harry Morgan
Cast a Long Shadow (1959) with Audie Murphy, Terry Moore, John Dehner, Denver Pyle, Ann Doran, and Stacy Harris
The Killer Shrews (1959) with Ingrid Goude and Ken Curtis
Verboten! (1959) with Susan Cummings and Tom Pittman
Ride Lonesome (1959) with Randolph Scott, Karen Steele, Pernell Roberts, Lee Van Cleef, and James Coburn
The Naked and the Dead (1958) with Aldo Ray, Cliff Robertson, Raymond Massey, Barbara Nichols, William Campbell, and Richard Jaeckel
The Left Handed Gun (1958) with Paul Newman, Lita Milan, and John Dehner
Cole Younger, Gunfighter (1958) with Frank Lovejoy, Abby Dalton, Jan Merlin, Frank Ferguson, and Myron Healey
Man on the Prowl (1957) with Mala Powers and Jerry Paris
Hot Summer Night (1957) with Leslie Nielsen, Colleen Miller, Edward Andrews, Jay C. Flippen, and Claude Akins
Last of the Badmen (1957) with George Montgomery, Keith Larsen, Willis Bouchey, and Michael Ansara
The Rack (1956) with Paul Newman, Wendell Corey, Walter Pidgeon, Edmond O'Brien, Anne Francis, Lee Marvin, and Cloris Leachman
Calling Homicide (1956) with Bill Elliott, Myron Healey, Jeanne Cooper, and Lyle Talbot
Gaby (1956) with Leslie Caron, John Kerr, Cedric Hardwicke, Taina Elg, Joe Di Reda, Ruta Lee, and Narda Onyx
Come Next Spring (1956) with Ann Sheridan, Steve Cochran, Walter Brennan, Edgar Buchanan, Sonny Tufts, and Mae Clarke
Seven Angry Men (1955) with Raymond Massey, Debra Paget, Jeffrey Hunter, John Lupton, Larry Pennell, John Smith, Dennis Weaver, and Guy Williams
The Raid (1954) with Van Heflin, Anne Bancroft, Richard Boone, Lee Marvin, Tommy Rettig, and Peter Graves
Return from the Sea (1954) with Jan Sterling, Neville Brand, Lloyd Corrigan, and Alvy Moore
The Yellow Tomahawk (1954) with Rory Calhoun, Peggie Castle, Noah Beery Jr., Peter Graves, Lee Van Cleef, and Rita Moreno
Riders to the Stars (1954) with William Lundigan, Martha Hyer, Herbert Marshall, Richard Carlson, King Donovan, and Dawn Addams
Column South (1953) with Audie Murphy, Joan Evans, Robert Sterling, Ray Collins, Dennis Weaver, Gregg Palmer, and Russell Johnson
Seminole (1953) with Rock Hudson, Barbara Hale, Anthony Quinn, Richard Carlson, Hugh O'Brian, Russell Johnson, and Lee Marvin
Francis Goes to West Point (1952) with Donald O'Connor, Lori Nelson, Gregg Palmer, William Reynolds, Les Tremayne, and David Janssen
Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair (1952) with Marjorie Main, Percy Kilbride, and Lori Nelson
Steel Town (1952) with Ann Sheridan, John Lund, Howard Duff, Chick Chandler, and Nancy Kulp
The Battle at Apache Pass (1952) with John Lund, Jeff Chandler, Beverly Tyler, Susan Cabot, John Hudson, Regis Toomey, Richard Egan, Hugh O'Brian, Gregg Palmer, William Reynolds, and Jay Silverheels
The Cimarron Kid (1952) with Audie Murphy, Beverly Tyler, Yvette Duguay, John Hudson, Hugh O'Brian, Noah Beery Jr., and Leif Erickson
Apache Drums (1951) with Stephen McNally and Coleen Gray
Target Unknown (1951) with Mark Stevens, Alex Nicol, Gig Young, and Joyce Holden
Air Cadet (1951) with Stephen McNally, Gail Russell, Alex Nicol, Richard Long, Charles Drake, Rock Hudson, Peggie Castle, and Parley Baer
Kansas Raiders (1950) with Audie Murphy, Brian Donlevy, Marguerite Chapman, Scott Brady, Tony Curtis, Richard Arlen, Richard Long, Dewey Martin, and Richard Egan
Winchester '73 (1950) with James Stewart, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally, Charles Drake, John McIntire, Will Geer, Jay C. Flippen, Rock Hudson, Steve Brodie, and Tony Curtis
Peggy (1950) with Diana Lynn, Charles Coburn, Charlotte Greenwood, Barbara Lawrence, Charles Drake, Rock Hudson, Jerome Cowan, and Ellen Corby
Comanche Territory (1950) with Maureen O'Hara, Macdonald Carey, Will Geer, Charles Drake, Parley Baer, and Glenn Strange

The Dukes of Hazzard, 1979-1985 CBS TV Series. Best portrayed Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane
The Dukes, 1983 CBS animated TV series

In the Heat of the Night, episode Sweet, Sweet Blues, originally aired November 26, 1991
B.L. Stryker, episode Night Train, originally aired May 5, 1990
Enos, episode Grits and Greens Strike Again, originally aired December 17, 1980
How the West Was Won, episode Luke, originally aired April 2, 1979
Hawkins, episode Blood Feud, originally aired December 4, 1973
Dan August, episode In the Eyes of God, originally aired October 21, 1970
Lancer, episode Goodbye, Lizzie, originally aired April 28, 1970
Gunsmoke, episode Charlie Noon, originally aired November 3, 1969
The Guns of Will Sonnett, episode Robber's Roost, originally aired January 17, 1969
Felony Squad, episode The Distant Shore, originally aired December 2, 1969
The Mod Squad, episode The Price of Terror, originally aired November 26, 1968
I Spy, episode Suitable for Framing, originally aired March 15, 1968
Bonanza, episode The Price of Salt, originally aired February 4, 1968
The Guns of Will Sonnett, episode Meeting at Devil's Fork, originally aired October 21, 1967
Hawk, episode Blind Man's Bluff, originally aired December 29, 1966
The Green Hornet, episode Deadline for Death, originally aired December 21, 1966
I Spy, episode Lisa, originally aired December 7, 1966
Felony Squad, episode Flame Out, originally aired October 17, 1966
The Iron Horse, episode High Devil, originally aired September 26, 1966
Perry Mason, episode The Case of the Unwelcome Well, originally aired April 3, 1966
The Virginian, episode Letter of the Law, originally aired December 22, 1965
Honey West, episode A Matter of Wife and Death, originally aired October 8, 1965
Burke's Law, episode Steam Heat, originally aired September 29, 1965
Flipper, episode The Call of the Dolphin, originally aired April 4, 1965
Ben Casey, episode A Little Fun to Match the Sorrow, originally aired March 8, 1965
Daniel Boone, episode The Devil's Four, originally aired March 4, 1965
Death Valley Days, episode Hero of Fort Halleck, originally aired October 9, 1964
Rawhide, episode Incident at El Toro, originally aired April 9, 1964
Destry, episode Go Away, Little Sheba, originally aired March 27, 1964
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, episode The Jar, originally aired February 14, 1964
Combat!, episode Mail Call, originally aired February 1, 1964
Death Valley Days, episode Sixty-Seven Miles of Gold, originally aired January 14, 1964
Gunsmoke, episode The Glory and the Mud, originally aired January 4, 1964
The Fugitive, episode Terror at High Point, originally aired December 17, 1963
Bonanza, episode The Legacy, originally aired December 15, 1963
Rawhide, episode Incident of the Rawhiders, originally aired November 14, 1963
Ben Casey, episode Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, originally aired November 13, 1963
Redigo, episode Little Angel Blue Eyes, originally aired October 29, 1963
Gunsmoke, episode With a Smile, originally aired March 30, 1963
Perry Mason, episode The Case of the Surplus Suitor, originally aired February 28, 1963
The Gallant Men, episode The Warriors, originally aired February 23, 1963
The Twilight Zone, episode Jess-Belle, originally aired February 14, 1963
Rawhide, episode Incident at Spider Rock, originally aired January 18, 1963
G.E. True, episode Open Season, originally aired January 6, 1963
Death Valley Days, episode The $275,000 Sack of Flour, originally aired October 1, 1962
Cheyenne, episode Sweet Sam, originally aired October 8, 1962
Hawaiian Eye, episode Day in the Sun, originally aired October 2, 1962
Cheyenne, episode Satonka, originally aired October 1, 1962
Bronco, episode Then the Mountains, originally aired April 30, 1962
The Rifleman, episode The Day a Town Slept, originally aired April 16, 1962
77 Sunset Strip, episode The Long Shot Caper, originally aired March 23, 1962
The Twilight Zone, episode The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank, originally aired February 23, 1962
Laramie, episode The Runaway, originally aired January 23, 1962
The Twilight Zone, episode The Grave, originally aired October 27, 1961
Surfside 6, episode One for the Road, originally aired October 2, 1961
Whispering Smith, episode The Hemp Reeger Case, originally aired July 17, 1961
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, episode Make My Death Bed, originally aired June 27, 1961
The Andy Griffith Show, episode The Guitar Player Returns, originally aired May 15, 1961
Stagecoach West, episode The Dead Don't Cry, originally aired May 2, 1961
The Barbara Stanwyck Show, episode The Choice, originally aired April 17, 1961
Michael Shayne, episode Strike Out, originally aired March 10, 1961
Stagecoach West, episode The Arsonist, originally aired February 14, 1961
Bonanza, episode The Fugitive, originally aired February 1, 1961
Have Gun - Will Travel, episode Quiet Night in Town: Parts 1 and 2, originally aired January 7 and January 14, 1961
Bat Masterson, episode Dakota Showdown, originally aired November 17, 1960
The DuPont Show with June Allyson, episode Love on Credit, originally aired November 17, 1960
The Rebel, episode Deathwatch, originally aired October 23, 1960
Lock Up, episode The Beau and Arrow Case, originally aired October 22, 1960
The Andy Griffith Show, episode The Guitar Player, originally aired October 17, 1960
Stagecoach West, episode High Lonesome, originally aired October 4, 1960
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, episode Cell 227, originally aired June 5, 1960
The Rebel, episode Night on a Rainbow, originally aired May 29, 1960
Overland Trail, episode Escort Detail, originally aired May 22, 1960
Men Into Space, episode Beyond the Stars, originally aired May 11, 1960
The Texan, episode Killer's Road, originally aired April 25, 1960
General Electric Theater, episode Aftermath, originally aired April 17, 1960
Pony Express, episode The Story of Julesberg, originally aired March 9, 1960
Wagon Train, episode The Clayton Tucker Story, originally aired February 10, 1960
Laramie, episode Company Man, originally aired February 9, 1960
Wagon Train, episode The Colonel Harris Story, originally aired January 13, 1960
Startime, episode Cindy's Fella, originally aired December 15, 1959
The Lineup, episode Lonesome as Midnight, originally aired November 18, 1959
Laramie, episode The Lawbreakers, originally aired October 20, 1959
The Man and the Challenge, episode Maximum Capacity, originally aired September 19, 1959
The David Niven Show, episode Good Deed, originally aired July 7, 1959
Frontier Justice, episode The Three Graves, originally aired July 6, 1959
The David Niven Show, episode Portrait, originally aired June 16, 1959
Wagon Train, episode The Andrew Hale Story, originally aired June 3, 1959
Black Saddle, episode Client: Nelson, originally aired May 2, 1959
Rescue 8, episode Trail by Fire, originally aired January 13, 1959
Wanted: Dead or Alive, episode Six-Up to Bannach, originally aired January 10, 1959
Behind Closed Doors, episode The Enemy on the Flank, originally aired December 4, 1958
Wanted: Dead or Alive, episode Sheriff of Red Rock, originally aired November 29, 1958
Trackdown, episode Sunday's Child, originally aired November 21, 1958
Bat Masterson, episode Stampede at Tent City, originally aired October 29, 1958
The Restless Gun, episode Jebediah Bonner, originally aired September 22, 1958
The Millionaire, episode The Fred Morgan Story, originally aired September 17, 1958
Target, episode Assassin, originally aired May 30, 1958
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, episode Death Sentence, originally aired April 27, 1958
Trackdown, episode The Mistake, originally aired April 18, 1958
Tombstone Territory, episode Guilt of a Town, originally aired March 19, 1958
Climax!, episode The Secret Love of Johnny Spain, originally aired February 20, 1958
Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, episode Guys Like O'Malley, originally aired January 10, 1958
Code 3, episode Death in an Alley, originally aired November 19, 1957
Have Gun - Will Travel, episode The Long Night, originally aired November 16, 1957
Trackdown, episode Marple Brothers, originally aired October 4, 1957
Richard Diamond, Private Detective, episode Merry-Go-Round Case, originally aired September 23, 1957
West Point, episode Dragoon Patrol, originally aired July 5, 1957
Sheriff of Cochise, episode Lynching Party, originally aired February 1, 1957
Zane Grey Theater, episode Three Graves, originally aired January 4, 1957
Cavalcade of America, episode Women's Work, originally aired November 20, 1956
Telephone Time, episode The Gingerbread Man, originally aired July 1, 1956
Frontier, episode Out from Texas, originally aired June 24, 1956
The Adventures of Champion, episode Andrew and the Deadly Double, originally aired February 13, 1956
Frontier, episode The Texicans, originally aired January 8, 1956
The Adventures of Champion, episode The Stone Heart, originally aired December 13, 1955
Cavalcade of America, episode One Day at a Time, originally aired November 15, 1955
The Lone Ranger, episode Framed for Murder, originally aired August 4, 1955
Buffalo Bill, Jr., episode The Death of Johnny Ringo, originally aired March 22, 1955
Death Valley Days, episode Million Dollar Wedding, originally aired March 1, 1955
The Adventures of Kit Carson, episode The Phantom Uprising, originally aired January 8, 1955
The Adventures of Kit Carson, episode Frontier Empire, originally aired November 27, 1954
The Gene Autry Show, episode Hoodoo Canyon, originally aired August 17, 1954
The Gene Autry Show, episode Holdup, originally aired July 20, 1954
Annie Oakley, episode Annie and the Outlaw's Son, originally aired July 3, 1954
Annie Oakley, episode Outlaw Mesa, originally aired June 26, 1954
Stories of the Century, episode Little Britches, originally aired June 17, 1954
Hopalong Cassidy, episode Silent Testimony, originally aired February 19, 1954
Hallmark Hall of Fame, episode McCoy of Abilene, originally aired October 18, 1953
Cavalcade of America, episode Night Strike, originally aired April 29, 1953

james best links

James The Official James Best Website

james best film now showing

Watch James Best's 1959 horror flick The Killer Shrews

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