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Sorrell Booke

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Sorrell Booke
Booke in the trailer for Devil Times Five (1974)
Born(1930-01-04)January 4, 1930
DiedFebruary 11, 1994(1994-02-11) (aged 64)
Resting placeHillside Memorial Park Cemetery
EducationColumbia University (BA)
Yale University (MFA)
Years active1939–1993
Known forJefferson Davis "Boss" Hogg in The Dukes of Hazzard
Miranda Knickerbocker
(m. 1958; div. 1973)

Sorrell Booke (January 4, 1930 – February 11, 1994) was an American actor who performed on stage, screen, and television. He acted in more than 100 plays and 150 television shows,[1] and is best known for his role as corrupt politician Jefferson Davis "Boss" Hogg in the television show The Dukes of Hazzard.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Booke was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of Sol Booke, a physician. As a child, he entertained patients in his father's waiting room,[3] and began acting on radio at nine.[1] As a young radio actor he was known for his impersonations. He won a radio contest for mimicking the voice of Adolf Hitler, and appeared regularly as an actor on local radio stations WGR and WEBR. He attended Bennett High School and was valedictorian of the Class of 1946.[4]

Booke enrolled in Columbia University at 16, and performed in Shakespearean plays in Columbia's drama club. He graduated from Columbia at 19 in 1949, and received a Master of Fine Arts at the Yale School of Drama.[1][5][6] He served in the United States Army during the Korean War for two years as a counterintelligence officer.[2][7]


After his Army service, Booke appeared off-Broadway in The White Devil and had his first television role in the series Omnibus. His Broadway debut was in 1956, in Michael Redgrave's production of The Sleeping Prince.[3][5] One prominent early role was that of Senator Billboard T. Rawkins in the 1960 revival of Finian's Rainbow. He also appeared in the films Black Like Me, A Fine Madness, What's Up, Doc? and Fail-Safe. In 1962, he starred in the Broadway musical Fiorello! as the title character.

Aside from his film roles, he appeared on numerous television shows such as Gunsmoke, Cannon, Ironside, Route 66, Hawaii Five-O, The Rockford Files, Full House, The Guiding Light and 12 O-Clock High.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

He worked as a voice actor in the 1980s and early 1990s. Booke also was a guest conductor at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.[15]

Booke received an Emmy nomination for his appearance in Dr. Kildare in the episode "What's God to Julius?". He appeared in an episode of Mission: Impossible from the first season in 1966. Booke appeared in two early episodes of M*A*S*H, as General Barker in "Requiem for a Lightweight" and "Chief Surgeon Who?"; the latter marked the debut of the character Corporal Klinger, with whom Booke's character had previously dealt. He also had a recurring role in All in the Family as Mr. Sanders, personnel manager at Archie Bunker's workplace, Prendergast Tool and Die Company. (He had previously appeared on All in the Family as Lyle Bennett, the manager of a local television station.) Booke was featured on an episode of Good Times, and had a recurring role as the Jewish mob boss "Lefkowitz" on Soap. He also appeared in two episodes of Columbo, "Swan Song" in Season 3 (featuring Johnny Cash) and "The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case" in Season 6. In 1976 he played a record producer in Rich Man, Poor Man Book II.

Booke's most notable role was in The Dukes of Hazzard as Boss Hogg, the humorously wicked antagonist to Bo and Luke Duke. The series ran on CBS for seven seasons, from 1979 to 1985. It spawned an animated series, The Dukes (1983), two reunion TV specials (by which time Booke had died, and the character of Boss Hogg was also said to be deceased), a feature film (2005) and The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning (a 2007 TV movie).

By the late 80s, Booke had stopped appearing physically in acting roles, but he continued to perform voice work on several television shows and movies, occasionally as narrator, and sometimes as a cartoon character's voice, in such movies as Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers (1987 TV movie), Gravedale High (1990 television series), and Rock-A-Doodle (1991).

Personal life[edit]

Booke was 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) tall and weighed 185 pounds (84 kg) at the time of his Boss Hogg role, and wore padding to seem fatter.[16] He copied the Hogg character's American South drawl from U.S. senators Sam Ervin and Strom Thurmond.[3]

Booke was fluent in French, Japanese, Spanish, Russian, and Italian. He said that he also “fussed" with a half-dozen other languages such as Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Dutch, Persian, Polish, and Swedish. One of his hobbies was moving into and restoring rundown houses. In 1981, he lived in a "modest home on a modest street in Los Angeles," where he did his own gardening and carpentry. He called his Boss Hogg character "despicable," but enjoyed meeting with fans of the show.[1][17]

Booke was married to Miranda Knickerbocker, then a senior at Barnard College, in 1958. She was the daughter of journalist Hubert Renfro Knickerbocker.[7] They had two children before divorcing in 1973.


On February 11, 1994, Sorrell Booke died of colorectal cancer in Sherman Oaks, California. He is interred at the Jewish cemetery Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.[3][18]

Partial filmography[edit]

Television work[edit]

Stage appearances[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Cauthorn, Robert S. (February 9, 1984). "Character Actor Sorrell Booke is High on Hogg Despite it All". Arizona Daily Star. p. 8. Retrieved June 21, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ a b Collins, Glenn (February 15, 1994). "Sorrell Booke, A TV Actor, 64; Was Boss Hogg". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 13, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Oliver, Myrna (February 16, 1994). "Sorrell Booke; TV, Stage and Movie Actor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  4. ^ Cichon, Steve (March 22, 2019). "The curious acquaintance of John Otto and Boss Hogg". The Buffalo News. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Finally He 'Made It'". The News Leader: TV Book. Staunton, Virginia. November 18, 1979. p. 10 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ Thomas, Vinciguerra (Spring 2014). "Varsity Show Endears and Endures". Columbia College Today. Archived from the original on June 21, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Miss Knickerbocker Is Wed To Sorrell Booke in Nyack" (PDF). The New York Times. September 7, 1958. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  8. ^ Gunsmoke: Season 18, Episode 9, retrieved February 13, 2023
  9. ^ Cannon: Death Chain | TVmaze, retrieved February 13, 2023
  10. ^ Ironside : Shell Game (1968) - Anton Leader | Cast and Crew | AllMovie, retrieved February 13, 2023
  11. ^ Route 66 : Voice at the End of the Line (1962) - David Lowell Rich | Cast and Crew | AllMovie, retrieved February 13, 2023
  12. ^ Hawaii Five-0 : The Double Wall (1970) - Michael O'Herlihy | Cast and Crew | AllMovie, retrieved February 13, 2023
  13. ^ The Rockford Files : The Jersey Bounce (1978) - David Chase, Stephen J. Cannell, William Wiard | Cast and Crew | AllMovie, retrieved February 13, 2023
  14. ^ Full House : Our Very First Christmas Show (1988) - John Bowab | Cast and Crew | AllMovie, retrieved February 13, 2023
  15. ^ "Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra: Concerts, Biography & News". BBC Music. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  16. ^ Whitesell, Phil (January 24, 1980). "It's Sorrell Booke's job to hog all the action". The Tampa Times. Knight-Ridder News Service. p. 18. Retrieved June 21, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ Dangaard, Colin (June 28, 1981). "The Private World of Boss Hogg". The Boston Globe: TV Week. p. 2. Retrieved June 21, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ "Obituaries/funeral announcements, Sorrell booke". The Los Angeles Times. February 15, 1994. p. 140. Retrieved July 21, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.

External links[edit]