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home : community : e-community January 29, 2022

2/28/2014 12:06:00 AM
"On Golden Pond" Opens Tonight In Hickory With James Best
James Best with Norma Frank as they rehearse a scene from
James Best with Norma Frank as they rehearse a scene from "On Golden Pond" which will open tonight, Feb. 28.

(Photos by Kirk Herbertson)
Kirk Herbertson, photographer for the Lincoln Herald, poses with James Best at the Hickory Community Theater.
Kirk Herbertson, photographer for the Lincoln Herald, poses with James Best at the Hickory Community Theater.

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Kirk Herbertson
Photo Journalist

The Hickory Community Theater is getting ready to do another play with a familiar title, "On Golden Pond.”

One of the actors is a very well-known familiar face and a resident of the Hickory area.

James Best who portrayed Sherriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on the "Dukes of Hazard" TV series is set to star as Norman in "On Golden Pond." The play also has Norma Frank as Ethel, Dorothy Best as daughter Chelsea, Jeff Hartman as Charlie the mailman, Chris Honsaker as the Jewish Dentist Billy Ray, and Coleson Berlin as grandson Billy Ray Jr. The play is directed by Pam Livingston.

“On Golden Pond” opens tonight, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. and runs through March 16. Times for the play are: Friday and Saturday 8 p.m.; Thursday 7:30 p.m.; Sunday 2:30 p.m. To purchase tickets go to

James Best was born in Kentucky, and his Dad was a coal miner. Best said, " I was adopted when I was four years old and was raised in Southern Indiana.”

Best and his wife Dorothy, who is also in the play playing the part of daughter Chelsea, moved to the Hickory area six years ago.

Best said "Of course I love the theater, I did a Broadway show, toured Europe, toured the United States, did Summer and Winter Stock, did 97 feature pictures and over 600 television shows in my career.”
"I go back with Gene Autry and Hop Along Cassidy, I did five movies with Jimmy Stewart, I worked with Bogey (Humphrey Bogart) and Caine Mutiny, I did "Shenandoah , I did the rewrites of three of Burt Reynolds pictures and co-stared in Hooper with him, I stared with Paul Newman in "Left Handed Gun,” if you go to my website it has the whole list ,".

When asked what brought him to the Hickory area, Best replied, "Cause of the beauty, I am a painter, an artist, in fact they are going to hang one of my paintings over the fireplace (on the set), I did a church, I sell all over the world, I took up painting probably 40 years ago. I have got an art studio in my own home here, you can see some of my paintings on the internet, "

When asked about what got him started with the Hickory Community Theater Best said, "Of course theater is in my background , I toured with Arthur Penn over in Europe for over a year, I did a Broadway show, and I did Summer Stock and Winter Stock and theater. My original thoughts were when I came to Hollywood and put under contract with Universal in 1949 I was going to earn enough money to go back to Broadway, but I got greedy and stayed out in Hollywood and made all of those movies and television shows and everything, I am still making movies, my son-in-law is Michael Damien who is on "The Young and Restless" he directs, and he married my daughter, my daughter writes the scripts for Hallmark and I have a movie out now called "Sweeter Side of Life” that Michael directed, that I stared in. They just got back from Romania making another movie. I am going to make a Christmas movie for Hallmark probably the latter part of this year, so I keep busy."

Best said, "The Dukes of Hazard" was a two edged sword cause now I am typed as Roscoe P. Coltrane, that's why I wanted to get back more or less into theater, cause I'd like to think I am a good actor rather than Roscoe P. Coltrane."

When asked do you own the dog that you had Best replied, "I got her out of a dog pound, I got "Flash" out, "Warner Brothers" did not want a dog on the show they did not want to pay for a trainer, they only made a billion a year on "Dukes of Hazard" so they did not have the money for a trainer, so I threatened to quit, so I said, you don't get me a girl on there, I said give me a dog and I threatened to quit, and I got my dog. She lived mostly with a trainer (Alvin Mears) cause he had to train her for what she was supposed to be doing. Alvin is still working in the industry, he made enough money to start his own company with movie animals. So it works very nicely.

"Dukes of Hazard" was a blessing for a lot of different people, to give John Schenider and Tom Wopat a career, a very fine career, with Tom on Broadway now all the time, and of course John is very busy and Cathy busy having babies, but we do a lot of personal appearances , and we did a personal appearance about four or five years ago at Nashville, and they drew 70 thousand people , and we had guys shipping their car from Australia, The General Lee, we had 120 General Lees there and about 30 or 40 cop cars there, so after all that is what a good family show will do. Hollywood they put out so much stuff now that is special effects and they rely on what they call reality stars, people who have never trained or acted or anything and that is why the garbage is coming out of Hollywood, so that is why we, my wife and I formed our own movie company here in Hickory. We have a satellite company in Florida, and we shot the latest launch for the government out there, and we did a special for a ballet company in Russia, so our company does very well, James Best Enterprises, James Best Film, but Best Friend Films is what you can really see our webpage (”

“I am so very excited we shot "Fireproof" - we shot "Facing the Giants." I will be 88 in July, and I am not slowing down I guess. I think I said when they bury me, on the tombstone I want One More Time.”

When asked if they were going to have a reunion of "The Dukes of Hazard" Best said, "we have them all the time, I mean we have them on personal appearances probably four or five times a year, so we see each other all the time, but you spend seven years with people almost night and day for seven years, it is not too exciting for reunions and stuff, cause we see each other so much on personal appearances and stuff like that. We are all very good friends, of course it's a real family, but most people don't see their family more than once or twice a year anyway, we probably see each other more than most people do with their real family."

When asked what he thinks about his character in the play does it fit you, Best replied, "I did a movie with Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart called "Firecreek" so I worked with Mr. Fonda and I love Golden Pond, I loved his acting, and of course the movie was a very good movie as far as I was concerned of course it was a play before the movie, so I love this theater and what they are doing here, they are really doing really professional work, I have seen stuff here at this theater that was better than some of the stuff I have seen on Broadway, and Pam is a very fine director, she works awful hard and she has really done wonders with this company".

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