Jefferson Davis "J.D." Hogg, better known as "Boss" Hogg, is a fictional character featured in the American television series The Dukes of Hazzard. He was the greedy, unethical commissioner of Hazzard County. A stereotypical villainous glutton, Boss Hogg always wore an all-white suit with a white cowboy hat and regularly smoked cigars. The role of Boss Hogg was played by Sorrell Booke, who performed frequently on radio, stage, and film prior to his role in The Dukes of Hazzard. Boss Hogg is one of only two characters to appear in every episode of the TV series, the other being Uncle Jesse Duke. His namesake is Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. The "Boss Hogg" nickname is a reference to the European pronunciation of Frank "Boss" Hague, a famous corrupt politician of the early-mid 20th century.[dubious ]
About Boss Hogg
"Boss" Hogg was the wealthiest man in Hazzard County. As his name would imply, Hogg was incredibly greedy. The "Boss" heading is a distant analogy to the corrupt New York City Tammany Hall era policitian Boss Tweed. Creator Gy Waldron said he wanted the character to be the personification of the seven deadly sins. Boss Hogg would do almost anything to get his hands on more money, including executing many nefarious and criminal schemes. However, he does not tolerate anyone (even the Dukes) getting physically hurt in the process. Boss Hogg is described in one analysis as "an ineffectual bad guy--hence amusing".
He owned most of Hazzard's property and businesses — either directly or by holding the mortgages over the land. His lust for money often drove him to participate in criminal activities — usually by enlisting the aid of associates — mainly his right-hand man and partner in crime, the dim-witted, bumbling Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. Together, the two schemed to frame the Duke family (Hogg's most steadfast adversaries) for crimes they did not commit. Rosco's deputies, Enos Strate and Cletus Hogg (Boss's cousin), have also aided Boss Hogg, though Enos (and to a lesser extent, Cletus) were decidedly more reluctant to do so. According to Waylon Jennings's narration, he had a "cradle to grave" earning plan; in that if you were a Hazzard County resident, you were born at the local hospital (owned by Hogg), you lived in a house that he owned the deed to, worked at one of his businesses, and when you died, his casket company would make your pine box.
Boss was the wealthiest man in Hazzard County, though this only seemed to fuel his lust for more and more greed. He was chauffered around in the back of a Cadillac (though he drove himself around in later seasons), all-white in color to match his all-white suit. Other clothing (such as jogging suits, etc.) and much of his other accessories, and much of his own mansion home, were also decked out in white.
Boss is forever angry at the Duke family, particularly Bo and Luke, for continually exposing and halting his various crooked schemes. Despite the Dukes coming to his rescue on occasion, Hogg forever seems to have an irrational dislike of the clan, particularly Bo and Luke, often accusing them of spying on him, robbing or planning to rob him, and other supposedly nefarious actions as he believes they are generally out to get him. Although this characteristic is present throughout the show's run, it is particularly evident in the earlier seasons.
Just like the exact specifications of the Duke Boys' probation rules, the extent of just what was and wasn't within Boss's powers often seemed to vary from episode to episode. However, this can be countermanded slightly, as Boss would often bend the law and make up rules to suit himself.
Boss has an identical twin brother, Abraham Lincoln Hogg, who appeared in one episode of the show (the third season's "Baa, Baa White Sheep"). Also played by Booke, A.L Hogg is the opposite of J.D. - he was kind, honest, law-abiding, dressed in black, and drove a black Cadillac - and was friendly with the Dukes, particularly Uncle Jesse.
Every morning, Boss Hogg would drink coffee and eat raw liver (as seen in the pilot episode, "One Armed Bandits" and several later episodes). Sorrell Booke, a method actor, actually ate the raw liver.
Sorrell Booke was only slightly overweight at best. He wore padding under his suit to give Boss his familiar 62 inch waist.
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, for which the foundations were set over the course of the first half-season, came the closer pairing of Hogg and bumbling Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best), and as the pair's comical ability together became apparent and a popular element of the series, Booke and Best were often given permission to ad-lib and improvise their scenes together.
By the time of the 1997 reunion movie, Booke had died, so rather than replace him with a new actor or similar character, Hogg's death was written into the script. He willed his empire to Rosco P. Coltrane, who continued to pursue zany schemes, many of which Boss came up with before his death.
In a typical episode of The Dukes of Hazzard, Boss hires others to carry out his crimes, then diverts the blame onto the Dukes; usually the cousins Bo and Luke. Some of Hogg's favorite schemes include bank and armored car robbery, counterfeiting, fraud, and moonshine running. He especially enjoyed trying to trick Bo and Luke into violating their probation (for illegal transportation of moonshine) by running moonshine or crossing the county line. Boss reasons that by framing Bo and Luke, he will more easily acquire the Duke farm - the property he most covets, and for which he held the mortgage - for little to no cost. Usually, this is so he can develop the land (for profit, of course) in various ways. When the Dukes are not targeted, it is generally a friend of the Dukes - auto mechanic Cooter Davenport, postmistress Miz Emma Tisdale, county worker Emery Potter, general store owner Mr. Rhuebottom, and others - who find themselves on the wrong side of Hogg's schemes.
It is usually up to Bo and Luke to foil Boss's schemes, defeat his associates, and make things right. Though Boss's crimes should land him in prison, he usually winds up with little more than a slap on the wrist, such as donating his ill-gotten proceeds to charity or having to personally resow a crop by hand that he had destroyed. He often worms his way out of trouble by foisting the blame for his schemes onto associates. This has left him with a reputation for untrustworthiness and double-crossing in the criminal world and made many enemies who come back for revenge.
Boss lusts for "simoleons", but has his limits; he refuses to risk anyone's life or safety for the sake of his schemes. More than once, he has sacrificed his potential earnings to save lives that would otherwise be imperiled by his greed (this is especially true in later seasons). For all his scheming ways, he has shown on many occasions that he does have a conscience. His conscience has landed him into trouble with his former partners in the past. He stands by his word, but only if he "spits and shakes" on it. On several occasions, when Boss's disgruntled or devious associates attempted to exact revenge for Boss's betrayal, Bo and Luke almost always came to his rescue.
Boss held various positions in the community including County Commissioner, Police Commissioner, Chief of the Hazzard County Volunteer Fire Department, Justice of the Peace and Bank President. All of these organizations seemed to suffer from his greed. It seems in some episodes that his position of County Commissioner is elected.
Boss constantly looks for new, usually dishonest, methods to bring revenue into the county (and thereby, into his pocketbook). Some of the more memorable schemes involve Rosco setting up fake fire hydrants next to parked cars, using hair dryers as radar guns (to ticket people for speeding), and placing hidden stop signs or speed limit signs that mysteriously spring into view after an unsuspecting motorist drives by.
Boss's traffic schemes have also resulted in country music and other performers "working off" their fines by performing at "The Boar's Nest". Famous singer victims include: Roy Orbison, Buck Owens, Mel Tillis, Dottie West, Tammy Wynette, Hoyt Axton, Johnny Paycheck and The Oak Ridge Boys twice, Loretta Lynn, and Mickey Gilley, whose performance he also tried to pirate.
Despite Boss Hogg's unending desire to have Bo and Luke imprisoned for crimes they do not commit, his principal rival always remained their uncle, Jesse Duke. Jesse and J.D. had a feud dating back to their ridge-running days in the 1930s, which continued to simmer after Bo and Luke were indicted for moonshine-running and Jesse began protecting them from J.D.
Though they rarely got along, Jesse and J.D. held a grudging respect for one another and enjoyed a "friendship" of sorts, as both would help each other when circumstances warranted. However, Jesse Duke was well aware of J.D.'s greedy nature, and the wizened Duke patriarch frequently warned his nephews and niece about Hogg's antics. When Uncle Jesse needed a favor of Boss Hogg, he would often say "I've never asked you for anything", and the question appeared new to the portly Hogg each time. Furthermore, whenever Jesse and J.D. do formally agree to something, it is always with a "spit and shake" of hands; in one episode, J.D. insists that without "spit and shake", any promises made by him are not binding. In one episode where Hogg becomes involved with some very serious criminals who threaten Jesse's life, he intervenes and insists that they don't hurt him.
Lulu Coltrane Hogg
Boss is married to Rosco's "fat sister", Lulu Coltrane Hogg, making Boss and Rosco brothers-in-law. In the first episode, "One Armed Bandits", and referenced again in some later episodes, Boss mentions that she had him give Rosco the role of Sheriff so that he would have a safe job. It is this "debt" that, in the earliest episodes at least, seems to have Rosco continually working for Boss in repayment.
As with several of the other characters, the version of Lulu seen in the early episodes is slightly different to the version portrayed later. In her lone first season appearance ("Repo Men"), she is played as rather trashy and spoiled (she is seen to be demanding that Boss buy her a Rolls Royce for her birthday). Her single second season appearances (in "The Rustlers") also shows her in a similar light. As the character progressed and appeared on a more regular basis in the series, the character softened. Although in some earlier instances she didn't seem keen on the Dukes, she was more hospitable towards them, and by the later seasons was often seen to be on friendly terms with the family - particularly Jesse, with whom she was occasionally consort if she thought Boss was getting himself too deep into trouble. She and Daisy also seemed to hold a friendship as she hired Daisy into the Hazzard Equal Rights Society and in a later episode they were seen to be returning together from an out of town shopping trip.
Boss frequently takes his wife for granted, however Lulu has no patience for Boss's shady antics and is clearly the dominant personality in the relationship. At one point, she threatens to leave Boss and take half of his holdings. Although seen as spoiled and trashy in early appearances, the later portrayal of Lulu shows her to be a kind and more level-headed woman, involved with several local charities and projects, and who even acts as Boss's Achilles' heel in his latest crooked scheme succeeding on occasion.
Boss, while apprehensive to trust her, and while scheming behind her back at all times, seems to genuinely love Lulu, and even frequently calls her by petnames, such as (appropriately) "Angel Food Cake", "Marshmallow", and "Sugarplum Puddin'."
Boss Hogg's alter ego
In the third season episode "The Late J.D. Hogg", Boss is wrongly diagnosed with a fatal illness and adopts a nice, kind persona, only to revert to his usual crooked, mean self when he learns that he is not really about to die.
In "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (Episode: #7.5 - Original airdate: 19 October 1984), Boss Hogg suffered amnesia as a result of being hit on the head. When he awakened, he was a kind, caring, honest and fair man who intended to "clean up Hazzard County of all corruption". He did not like being referred to as "Boss" or even as "J.D.", instead identifying himself as "Jefferson Davis Hogg with two G's", or just "Jefferson" for short. Jefferson actually liked and appreciated the Dukes for the help they bring to Hazzard, and helped them whenever he could — until he received another bump on the head (many times, via Rosco) and turned back into the ruthless, corrupt Boss Hogg.
Boss Hogg's vehicle
Boss Hogg's car was a triple white 1970 (Newer Model in the Movies) Cadillac DeVille convertible, with large bull horns for a hood ornament, and in the movies sported pistol shaped door handles. He had a chauffeur named Alex, who drove the car in the first few seasons; in later years, Hogg became the car's principal driver and frequently challenged others by invoking his driving expertise from his days as a ridge-runner. Unlike other vehicles in the series, Boss Hogg's Cadillac is typically handled carefully and he was always blaming Cooter if even the smallest thing went wrong.
Boss Hogg's holdings
Some of Boss Hogg's holdings (either directly or by mortgage) include:
- The Duke Farm — Boss held the mortgage.
- The Boar's Nest — the local watering hole where Daisy Duke was employed as a waitress. Boss also has an office in the back where he does most of his dealings.
- Hazzard County Bank — the local bank where Boss served as president, owner, and chief operating officer (COO).
- Cooter's Garage — owned by the Dukes' friend, Cooter Davenport. Boss held the mortgage.
- HOGGOCO Oil and Petroleum Co. — Boss has gas stations all over Hazzard County, and Hoggoco fuel pumps in front of both The Boars Nest and Cooter's Garage.
- The Hazzard County Gazette — the weekly newspaper serving Hazzard County.
- The Hazzard Phone Company — Boss had all of the operators in his pocket, and his cousin Maybel or local girl Gussie tell him whenever any calls of interest came through Hazzard.
- WHOGG (the Hazzard County radio station) — the only radio station in Hazzard County. Boss served as president.
- The Hazzard County Grits Mill — Abandoned by Boss, only to be occupied for dubious purposes by his nephew, Jamie Lee Hogg. (portrayed by actor Jonathan Frakes)
- High Heavenly Hill Cemetery — Boss charged a handsome fee to be buried here, in Hazzard's only public cemetery, sometimes even double-selling plots.
- J.D. Hogg Log Mill
- J.D. Hogg Ice House — Abandoned by Boss, only to be occupied by a group of crooks who are out to steal 10 million dollars from armored trucks.
- J.D. Hogg Real Estate
- J.D. Hogg Funeral Home
- J.D. Hogg Gravel Company
- J.D. Hogg Painting Company
- Two unnamed used car lots. One is run by a chronically-drunk moonshiner named Hobie (portrayed by actor A. Paul Smith). The other is located in downtown Hazzard, where Boss was one of the chief salesmen.
- The Hazzard Coffin Works — Boss ran the Coffin Works as a place to store his moonshine until he abandoned it. It was taken as a hide out for the ridge-runners. Then Russel Snake Harmon used the building as a place to hide and store his rattlesnakes from Texas Ranger Jude Emery.
Public Services Controlled by Hogg
Hazzard County Public Works
Hazzard County Sheriffs Department (Hogg is the Police Commissioner)
Hazzard County Volunteer Fire Department (Hogg is the Fire Chief. In some episodes Bo Luke and Uncle Jesse also appear to be firemen.It would seem that they put their differences aside for this.)
Boss Hogg in film
In Moonrunners — the precursor film to the Dukes of Hazzard — the character that would go on to be developed into Boss Hogg, was named Jake Rainey (played by George Ellis). Like Boss Hogg, Jake was an old friend of Uncle Jessie, who had risen from running moonshine with Jessie in the old days to boss of the county. Jake also had the loyalty of Sheriff Rosco Coltrane, although this bond wasn't as close as it was in the TV series.
Burt Reynolds played Boss Hogg in The Dukes of Hazzard (2005), the big-screen remake of the TV series. This version of Boss was far more serious and wily than his TV counterpart. Although it was indicated that this Boss Hogg enjoyed fine cuisine, he was not the overweight glutton of the television series.
Chris McDonald played Boss Hogg in The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning (2007). Much like Reynolds' portrayal, Hogg was not overweight as his TV series version was, although he was decidedly taller (McDonald is 6'3", nine inches taller than Booke was).
- John Shelton Reed, Southern Folk, Plain and Fancy: Native White Social Types (2007), p. 21.
- The Dukes of Hazzard: One Armed Bandits DVD commentary track by John Schneider and Catherine Bach