“The Dukes of Hazzard,” an hour-long tv sitcom concerning the rural adventures of two charming “good ol’ boys” and “modern-day Robin Hoods” who evade corrupt native lawmen of their scorching, southern-fried 1969 Dodge Charger, debuted on tv on at the present time in historical past, Jan. 26, 1979.
It grew to become a shock pop-culture phenomenon—defying trade specialists and even the expectations of CBS executives.
“The Dukes of Hazzard” ran for seven seasons and 147 episodes, drawing as many as 40 million viewers each Friday night time — greater than twice as many eyeballs as the common NFL recreation in 2022.
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“It is turn out to be a everlasting a part of Americana, like Mickey Mouse or ‘I Love Lucy,'” actor Ben Jones, who performed Duke sidekick Cooter Davenport within the present, informed Fox Information Digital.
The present starred John Schneider and Tom Wopat as cousins Bo and Luke Duke.
They have been joined of their exploits by nation vixen cousin Daisy Duke, performed by Catherine Bach (identified for her famously revealing shorts) and their American muscle automobile dubbed the Normal Lee, full with Accomplice flag on the roof and a horn that performed “Dixie. “
“The Dukes of Hazzard” ran for seven seasons and 147 episodes, drawing as many as 40 million viewers every Friday night time.
“The Dukes of Hazzard” proved extra than simply an sudden American scores bonanza.
It has been a TV hit all over the world and spawned a collection of remakes, reunions and merchandising successes. It nonetheless influences the American cultural lexicon in stunning methods.
“Daisy Dukes” are actually an American synonym for tight-fitting brief shorts—the phrase and vogue identified by thousands and thousands of individuals born lengthy after the present aired.
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The Normal Lee rolls down the freeway of American reminiscence as some of the iconic autos in display screen historical past.
One model of the car owned by actor Schneider offered for $10 million at public sale in 2007—among the many highest costs ever paid for any car.
The Normal Lee acquired 35,000 fan letters every month on the peak of the present’s reputation, reported Warner Bros., which produced the present, on the time.
Performer Waylon Jennings loved a no. 1 nation music hit with “Theme from the Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol’ Boys)” in 1980.
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“Simply the nice outdated boys/By no means meanin’ no hurt,” sings Jennings, dubbed “The Balladeer,” within the opening credit.
“Beats all you by no means noticed/Been in bother with the regulation for the reason that day they have been born.”
“The present additionally spurred the music careers of Schneider and Wopat, who themselves grew to become nation chart regulars within the ’80s,” Billboard reported in a 2015 historical past of the theme tune.
The automobile chase scenes have been essentially the most spectacular in tv historical past. So many autos have been ruined taping the gravity-defying stunts that as many 300 Chargers apparently performed the function of the Normal Lee within the collection.
“The attraction of the present hasn’t modified a lot… We nonetheless drive outdated automobiles down grime roads.” —Actor Ben Jones
“The attraction of the present hasn’t modified a lot,” mentioned Jones. “Individuals nonetheless love outdated automobiles, we nonetheless put on blue denims, work shirts, ball caps and cowboy hats. Nothing a lot has modified in rural America. We nonetheless drive outdated automobiles down grime roads.”
However this system supplied a a lot deeper connection to viewers than simply its superficial attraction of quick automobiles and lengthy legs.
Bo, Luke and Daisy Duke have been orphaned cousins raised by wisdom-spinning Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle).
The Dukes flouted the regulation, however solely as a result of the regulation was corrupt. The Dukes caught collectively by thick and skinny, serving to the group alongside the best way.
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“It was a household present, it was clear, there was no profanity, no blood — and it was watched by households all throughout the nation,” Jones mentioned.
“It was a Robin Hood story by which the dangerous guys have been truly the nice guys. It was a morality story the place when you do the precise factor, you may be rewarded on the finish. It supplied a judgment of right and wrong that is lacking on tv in the present day.”
Jones rode the success “The Dukes of Hazzard” all the best way to Congress.
He served two phrases within the Home of Representatives as a Democrat from Georgia (1989-1993).
He additionally operates Cooter’s Place, a trio of “The Dukes of Hazzard” museums in Nashville, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and Luray, Virginia.
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For all its success, this system would not cross muster in in the present day’s cancel tradition.
It unapologetically displayed the Accomplice flag on its iconic muscle automobile, named for Accomplice Normal Robert E. Lee.
“This system was completely benign,” mentioned Jones. “There was by no means one grievance concerning the flag, not even from our African American viewers, and we had a big African American viewership.”
Regardless of current criticisms, this system continues to thrive in digital format within the US and all over the world.
“You may by no means inform when one thing’s gonna pop,” Wopat informed Fox Information Digital in November.
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“However a while within the first 12 months, we simply knew we had one thing wonderful right here,” he additionally mentioned.
“The followers are distinctive in that they hand down their love for the present from technology to technology. I’ve met third- and fourth-generation followers. It is wonderful. It is a reward. The present will lengthy outlive me, that is for positive. “