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Mississippi Film Commission Founding Member James Best Dies

HICKORY, N.C.- Known mostly for his role as Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltraine on the 1980’s comedy, the Dukes of Hazzard, actor James Best died Monday night at the age of 88. A former acting teacher and artist-in-residence at the University of Mississippi, Best began his acting career while serving in the U.S. Army. He went on to become a co-founder of the Mississippi Film Commission in 1973, which was a group designated to bringing more on-location filming projects to the state of Mississippi. There were around 6 or 7 in the initial founding group, according to the manager of the Mississippi Film Office, Ward Emling, who had the opportunity to work with Best in the 70’s when he was just starting out.

“He was garrulous,” Emling mentioned. “He was a big personality.” James returned to acting in 1976 when he starred in the movie Ode to Billy Joe, which was shot in Mississippi, in parts of Carroll County and the Mississippi Delta. He then went on to portray a comical character in Sheriff Coltraine in the Dukes of Hazard from 1979 to 1985.

Funeral arrangements are still in the works, and fans are asked to donate to a local humane society in his honor in lieu of sending flowers.

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