Five Facts You Likely Never Knew About ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’
The hit TV show caught on fast and became a cash cow for its network, both in runaway ratings and endlessly popular merchandising
“The Dukes of Hazzard” was never meant to be the success it became. When the show premiered in 1979 — only nine episodes of it were ordered. The series was meant to simply fill CBS’ schedule until the return of “The Incredible Hulk,” starring Lou Ferrigno.
But the show caught on fast and ended up becoming a cash cow for its network, both in ratings and in merchandising.
Every young kid wanted to run around with the “good old boys” of Hazzard County, Bo and Luke Duke, played by John Schneider and Tom Wopat, respectively — and we all, young or old, wanted to ride around in our own General Lee.
The show ran for 147 episodes and led to a spinoff, an animated series, five video games, two movies, and two eventual reboots in 2005 and 2007.
Fans have greedily eaten up reruns of the series over the decades, and much of the imagery from the show (Daisy Duke's shorts, the General Lee, etc.) is still instantly recognizable to most audiences.
Here are five facts you probably never knew about "The Dukes of Hazzard."
1.) The network hated the show. William Paley, the CBS network chairman at the time, had little appreciation for the show. He could not understand the appeal of "Hazzard" and told People magazine in 1981 that the series was "lousy." Television viewers disagreed — and clearly money talks, because CBS ran "Hazzard" until 1985.
2.) The General Lee was more popular than the actors. Though Bo and Luke were the series' leads, the General Lee is what everybody remembers most. The 1969 Dodge Charger was at one point reportedly receiving 35,000 fan letters a month. People wanted pictures of the vehicle and lots more information about it.
The car has unfortunately become more controversial in recent years. Warner Bros. in 2015 even elected to stop merchandising products based on the original car, since the roof sported a Confederate flag.
The decision came after some people began criticizing the use of the Confederate flag in media and at music concerts.
John Schneider was no fan of the decision and likely echoed the feelings of a lot of fans when he told The Hollywood Reporter, "Is the flag used as such in other applications? Yes, but certainly not on the Dukes ... Labeling anyone who has the flag a 'racist' seems unfair to those who are clearly 'never meanin' no harm.'"
3.) Schneider lied in his audition. John Schneider was born and raised in New York, but he wanted a part on "Dukes" bad enough that he put on an entire act for his audition. He reportedly showed up unshaven, with a can of beer in his hand, chewing tobacco in his mouth — and claimed to be from a small town in Georgia. The rest, as they say, is history.
4.) The show went through a lot of cars. Plenty of General Lees were destroyed over the course of the series — given all the jumping and going through walls that occurred. Over 300 General Lees were used on the series.
5.) The hood slide was a mistake. According to the book "The Dukes of Hazzard: The Unofficial Companion" by David Hofstede, the famous hood slide across the General Lee on the show was a total mistake.
"The first hood slide in 'Daisy's Song #2' was actually a mistake," Wopat told the author. "We were coming out of a recording studio, and we had to run down a hill and jump into the car. In rehearsal, I jumped on the front fender and across the car in one hop. When I do it [in the actual filming], I was wearing cowboy boots, and when I hit the fender my foot slipped out from under me."
Wopat ended up sliding across the hood and slicing a four-inch gash in his arm. It all worked out in the end, though — because, according to Wopat, "It looked great!"