Tom Wopat as Luke Duke, ex-Marine & moonshiner
Hazzard County, Georgia*, Fall 1978
* best represented by Newton County, 35 miles east of Atlanta
Series: The Dukes of Hazzard
Creators: Gy Waldron & Jerry Rushing
Men’s Costume Supervisors: Bob Christenson & Joseph Roveto
I know I said I wouldn’t do it, but the pull of the General Lee was too strong, and I finally decided enough car week posts had been written before I could officially sell out and write about my dream car, the 1969 Dodge Charger R/T, and the show that immortalized it… The Dukes of Hazzard.
I first started watching Dukes when I was barely a teen, and – at that age – I most appreciated the comic banter between Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco. As I grew into my teens, Daisy became much more of a drawing point. Finally, while I still appreciate all of the above, it’s now truly impressive to me how Paul Baxley and his stunt team were able to craft such unique car chases week to week using classic American muscle cars and a seemingly endless number of police sedans. The most unbelievable part of the show isn’t the stunts but rather the dichotomy between Boss Hogg’s greed and his approved budget for the Hazzard County Sheriff Department’s motor pool.
The story of Dukes goes back to the 1950s when moonshiner Jerry Rushing was living a real life version of Thunder Road in the hills of North Carolina. As moonshine and racing culture began to grow popular in the 1970s, Rushing gave his stories to writer and director Gy Waldron, who created the 1975 B-movie Moonrunners based on Rushing’s experience. Moonrunners starred James Mitchum – Robert’s son – and Kiel Martin (of Hill Street Blues) as Grady and Bobby Lee Hagg, two Southern cousins who deliver moonshine for their Uncle Jesse and fight the increasingly violent and corrupt system in their small Southern county. Moonrunners was raunchier and more raw than even early episodes of Dukes, but it still had the classic elements: a brassy Southern girl, endless car chase, Waylon Jennings, the Boar’s Nest, bows isntead of guns, characters like Cooter and Sheriff Rosco Coltrane, and even a car with a Confederate lineage: a ’55 Chevy beater named “Traveller” after General Lee’s horse.
The Dukes’ General Lee will have to wait until next Monday’s post when I break down the rural style of Bo Duke (as played by John Schneider). To help get everyone in the mood to read about good-natured rednecks jumping muscle cars to avoid bumbling law enforcement officers, I figured I’d get us started a few days early with a post about Lucas K. “Luke” Duke.
Moonrunners didn’t gain much popularity north of the Mason-Dixon line, but the popularity of Burt Reynolds’ good-ol’-boy chase flicks like Smokey and the Bandit and Gator led to Warner Brothers knocking on Waldron’s door for a television adaptation of Moonrunners. Waldron and Rushing went back to the drawing board and developed The Dukes of Hazzard. Dukes borrowed plenty from Moonrunners, including the twist of having the protagonists delivering water in whiskey jugs as a decoy run for the revenue agents (as seen in “High Octane”, Episode 1.05).
By October of 1978, Waldron had mostly cast the show and filled it with veteran actors (Denver Pyle, Sorrell Booke, James Best), newbies (John Schneider, Catherine Bach), and good ol’ boys from the surrounding area (Ben Jones*, Sonny Shroyer). The first three General Lees were prepped, painted, and ready. Filming was set to begin that fall on location in the Covington and Conyers areas of Georgia. Only one thing was needed: its first-billed star.
Tom Wopat, given the later direction of his career as a successful Broadway star, could be considered a surprising choice for the lead role on a simple show about rural rascals fighting back against the system with just a muscle car and tight jeans on their side. But Wopat, with his natural talent and large, hard-working, and close-knit farm family, shared more in common with Luke Duke than one might suspect. As the last major cast member to join the show, the 27-year-old Wopat was thrust to the front of the credits and The Dukes of Hazzard premiered as a mid-season replacement on January 26, 1979 with “STARRING TOM WOPAT” accompanying a shot of Luke gingerly placing a deputy’s revolver back into his holster.
By the time of its premiere, production of Dukes had already moved to the Warner Brothers ranch in California. The first five episodes filmed and produced before Christmas break are often considered to be among the best with its authentic rural Georgia setting and slightly more adult-oriented humor.
In David Hofstede’s book The Dukes of Hazzard: The Unofficial Companion (which I own), Wopat himself stated:
I think the first five shows had a better look — more visceral… After that, it became more and more cartoonish, and that was unfortunate.
Unfortunately, the needs of such a car-hungry show forced Dukes to move to a place where Warner Brothers could more practically control production. With younger audiences also appreciating the show more than expected, characterizations shifted to keep the kids from growing up too fast. Rosco was less corrupt and more bumbling, Boss Hogg delivered diatribes about refusing to deal drugs, Cooter shaved and worked with the Boy Scouts, Enos became less virginal and more naïve, and all mention of Luke’s potential illegitimate children were squashed. Only Daisy got to continue attracting the adult vote with her decency-defying shorts.
Filming officially began 36 years ago today, November 7, 1978.
* Ben Jones, aka Cooter, had also starred in Moonrunners with a small role as a revenue agent. While we’re on the subject, Sonny Shroyer also notably showed up as a hapless – but far more mean-spirited – motorcycle cop in Smokey and the Bandit.
What’d He Wear?
One look into Luke Duke’s closet would tell you that this guy is obsessed with blue plaid shirts. With the exception of the second season, Luke wore exclusively blue plaid shirts from the show’s pilot episode through the finale six years later.
As the first five episodes – the ones filmed in Georgia – are often cited as the show’s most authentic, it will be Luke’s attire in those episodes that receives the bulk of attention in this post.
All first season episodes find Luke wearing a standard blue denim jacket. Though its pairing with jeans can often lead to some disparaging comments about an abundance of denim (“Hey, Denim Dan!”), the denim jacket is a very durable and versatile addition to a working man’s wardrobe that can especially come in handy for cooler seasons like spring or fall.
Luke’s particular jacket is unlined with a relatively short fit that meets the jeans at the waistline. While this allows Luke greater mobility when he and Bo are called into action (and probably makes climbing in and out of the General Lee easier), it leaves no room for side pockets. Thus, the only outer pockets on Luke’s jacket are the two flapped chest pockets with their metal buttons. Luke’s chest pocket flaps go from pointed like most Western yokes in early episodes to straight in later episodes.
The jacket has six brass-finished metal buttons down the front, but Luke always leaves it unfastened. The cuffs, always left unfastened and typically rolled up to reveal the shirt cuffs underneath, also have a single matching button.
The jacket’s waistline has two buttons on each side – right and left – with a small strap to adjust the fit. Luke keeps his straps fastened on the first button, keeping the jacket looser around his waist.
The standard color for a man’s denim jacket is a medium-dark blue wash, although the dark is also easy to pull off for most men. Luke’s jacket in the pilot episode was this standard medium blue, replaced in “Daisy’s Song” (Episode 1.02) by a lighter jacket. He wore this lighter jacket through “The Big Heist” (Episode 1.08), and it was always noticeably lighter than his jeans. Lighter wash denim is difficult for many men to adequately wear, and it also looks more dated. For the most part, Luke is able to avoid looking overly tacky.
In “Lime One Goes Missing” (Episode 1.09), he switched to a darker blue jacket that had non-pointed chest pocket flaps and nearly matched his darker blue jeans. The cut of the jacket, the inward-slanting horizontal yoke, and the distinctive zig-zag top-stitch on the placket suggests a Lee 101J Rider “cowboy jacket” with the iron-on branded tag removed from the left pocket flap seam.
Matching a denim jacket to jeans is getting into sartorially dangerous territory, and this is when the cat-callers may warm up their “denim sandwich” comments. The best way to pair a denim jacket with denim jeans is to wear a medium wash jacket with a noticeably darker pair of jeans.
The pilot episode denim jacket was only worn once, and the small red tag on the inside of the left chest pocket identifies it as a classic Levi’s jacket. The closest and most spiritually similar version of Luke’s denim jacket on the Levi’s website is The Trucker Jacket in the more versatile “Hot Spring” medium blue wash. The Levi’s description reads:
The Trucker fit is our most universal denim jacket fit for guys. The silhouette is straight on the body with armholes and sleeves designed for maximum mobility and comfort, featuring welt pockets that offer style and functionality. It’s led the pack since 1962, and still remains an icon of American cool.
Luke retired his denim jackets a few episodes into the second season, likely since it was no longer needed when filming in California’s warmer climates. Both Bo and Luke would eventually wear only a single-layered shirt (rather than a shirt with a jacket or t-shirt) which also probably helped the costume department’s laundry bill and the continuity when recycling scenes for chases.
The only time Luke wore a denim jacket after these early episodes was in “The Great Santa Clause Chase” (Episode 3.09) when he sported a lighter wash denim jacket, styled like a classic Lee 101J Rider, with his plaid shirt and jeans.
Throughout the whole first season underneath his denim jacket, Luke wears a – you guessed it – white and blue plaid shirt! The first season shirt is white with a blue overcheck that can best be described as alternating hues of light and dark blue tartan plaid flannel.
The spread collar is fashionably large for the era and yet, for all of the show’s excess, manages to stick within the sizes of decency without going disco wide. The shirt has a Western-style pointed yoke on each front shoulder and across the back.
All of Luke’s shirts have snap-down fronts. This shirt has seven six down the front placket and a single white plastic button at the collar. The cuffs have three snaps each and are typically worn fastened unless Luke removes his jacket, in which case he typically rolls up his sleeves. There is also a single snap on each gauntlet. All snaps are round with silver trim, but the surface is translucent.
The chest pockets close with matching snaps on each Western-style pointed flap.
Luke’s bootcut denim jeans in the earlier episodes are notably a darker blue wash than Bo’s. Even as the cousins’ jeans get lighter in later seasons, Luke continues to wear darker jeans than Bo.
It is the Dukes’ jeans that were one of my major hesitations in covering their outfits for BAMF Style. While not as “painted-on” as some female fans may have preferred, the jeans are certainly tight through the thighs before flaring out slightly for their boots. Luke’s jeans are always considerably more spacious than Bo’s, although neither cousin leaves much a mystery regarding on which side they dress. Coincidentally, this factoid also corresponds with which seat each cousin occupies in the General Lee… I’ll choose to explain no further than that.
As a contrast to his flashier cousin’s tooled belt, Luke wears a simple plain brown leather belt. The belt shows some slight wear with darker brown around the top and bottom fading into a lighter brown across the center. It’s a very durable work belt, and it is meant to be worn with a buckle.
Luke wears a distinctive silver “bear claw” belt buckle, named so for the five black “squiggly” lines on the right side designed to resemble a grizzly bear’s paw print. The buckle is solid silver, and the left side (the bear’s “palm”) features a large turquoise stone with a red enamel center.
Supposedly, Wopat had just arrived in Georgia and picked up this belt buckle from a local vendor just before the first episode was filmed in October 1978. This would explain why early promotional material featured Wopat wearing a far more ornate gold buckle in contrast to the silver bear claw buckle worn throughout the show’s run.
This very unique belt buckle has been recreated on several licensed action figures on Luke. You can pick up a similar buckle on Amazon, although it won’t have the red stone that gives Luke’s buckle its particular panache. Luke wears this same buckle throughout most of the series’ run until the final season when he wears a plain brass rectangular buckle, discussed later.
Perhaps more out of a countrified penchant for brown rather than strict adherence to sartorial practices, both Duke boys wear brown cowboy boots with their brown belts. Luke’s are darker than Bo’s, as usual. As the show itself softened, though, Luke’s boots would catch up to Bo’s and both were wearing similarly tan-colored suede riding boots by the third season.
At the start of the series, Luke sports a very well-worn pair of dark brown cowhide leather riding boots. Luke’s cowboy boots are designed more for walking than riding with squared toes and low “walking” heels. They still have the tall, mid-calf shaft as found on classic Western-style cowboy boots.
A slight running joke of the show is that the Duke boys are hardly ever seen without their boots. Even in “Deputy Dukes” (Episode 1.10), when they had their clothes stolen while skinny-dipping, they emerge from the water wearing only their boots. A brief shot in “Mary Kaye’s Baby” (Episode 1.03), however, gives us a glimpse of Luke’s socks when he jams the accelerator in Cooter’s Plymouth Fury. Here, we see a pair of white cotton tube socks with a very high rise.
I’m not sure if it’s a DVD defect, an odd light reflection, or a genuine pattern in the socks, but there appears to be a metallic stripe on his socks.
After Season 1
At the beginning of the second season, the abandonment of Luke’s denim jacket also heralded a new shirt for Hazzard’s cooler-headed Duke. This season, Luke took a cue from his cousin and sported a solid-color snap-down shirt in blue chambray. Like his previous shirt – and all future shirts – it is styled with Western-pointed yokes and flapped pockets, a snap front, and triple-snap cuffs.
Evidently, the solid color didn’t work out as well for Luke, and he returned to white-and-blue plaid for the third season. While blue chambray is a great material for a workman’s shirt, it does lend itself to showing sweat more than other colors. Bo would be safe in his lighter yellow and cream shirts, but Luke would look more like a character from In the Heat of the Night… a much different depiction of the South than The Dukes of Hazzard cared to offer.
“Happy Birthday, General Lee” (Episode 7.01) includes a flashback to 1976 when the Dukes first found General Lee, retconned as a ditched getaway car. Intended to be set two years prior to the first season, Luke returns to the blue chambray shirt of the second season. Evidently, the show was self-aware to a certain degree.
The white-and-blue plaid shirt during the third season is similar to the first season shirt. This shirt has a more prominent white ground and a slightly thinner black and blue plaid criss-crossing over the shirt.
It was during the third season that Luke also began wearing a pair of tan sueded leather riding boots with raised “cowboy” heels to match his cousin’s footwear. Luke never returns to the darker boots of earlier seasons, even during the seventh season flashback.
The fourth season finds Luke wearing yet another blue plaid snap-down shirt. This one prominently incorporated black more than previous shirts. It is best described as having a rich blue ground with large black squares connected by a series of white horizontal and vertical overchecks.
After John and Tom resolved the contract dispute that kept them out of the majority of the fifth season, Bo and Luke returned to Hazzard County in “Welcome Back, Bo ‘n’ Luke” (Episode 5.19) with a “new” – well, new-ish – look that they would maintain for the rest of the show’s run.
Luke’s attire underwent the most noticeable transformation. His flannel snap-down shirt was again blue plaid, but it is much more cyanic than previous shirts. This shirt has a vivid blue ground with a thick check alternating between dark and light blue. A white tartan-style overcheck crosses throughout.
The major differences in Luke’s wardrobe for the final seasons were on his lower half. The darker jeans of earlier seasons were back – on both cousins – and Wopat’s authentic “bear claw” belt buckle was evidently misplaced during the Coy and Vance fiasco. Luke returned to the show wearing a very dark brown leather belt with ribbed tan leather accents across the rear, somewhat resembling bullet loops found on Old West gunfighter’s belts.
Luke’s new belt buckle was sadly pedestrian compared to the unique one sported for the first four seasons. The new buckle was a large, plain brass rectangle with a lightly embossed design that looks like a sword and shield.
There was some overlapping between seasons, especially the second and third seasons where Luke would often wear the same shirt from the last season for the first few episodes, but it’s easier to refer to each shirt by which season saw its major use.
Luke may have had a standard shirt for each season, but some episodes – particularly early ones – allowed him to change his shirt every so often within the context of the story.
Luke’s Other Shirts
It was while wearing this shirt that Tom Wopat performed his famous hoodslide over the General Lee that would become immortalized in the show’s opening credits and various parodies. This would be the shirt’s sole appearance, and it was presumably damaged when Wopat sliced open his arm on the General’s aerial.
White and blue snap-down shirts are still a dime-a-dozen, but a more unique shirt like the one in “Daisy’s Song” could be harder to find. Rusty Zipper, a cool vintage clothing online outlet, offers this Channing “western-style” wool flannel shirt from the ’80s that would’ve found a home in Luke’s closet.
Three episodes later, Bo and Luke take Roxanne – the new Treasury Agent assigned to their case – to go juking at the Boar’s Nest. As Waylon Jennings helpfully tells us:
Now, for all you culturally deprived… juking is an event that combines music exercise, and social intercourse on a high plane.
Bo has an entirely different kind of “intercourse” in mind, but Luke plays a more subtle role, feeding Enos’ virginal brain some misinformation. Both Duke boys again wear different snap-down shirts than usual, but Luke – of course – doesn’t stray from blue plaid. This time, it is a more structured shirt in blue-and-white gingham.
In the two-partner “Undercover Dukes” (6.16/6.17), one of the better installments of the show’s later run, Bo and Luke are called back to the racing circuit – this time in service of Uncle Sam. The episode is a nice and rare display of continuity, acknowledging that the boys had already left the farm to pursue their dreams and vowed never to leave again. Though the “clones” aren’t mentioned by name, Daisy’s utter sorrow at the prospect of Bo and Luke leaving again mimics that of the show’s viewers during the majority of the fifth season.
As the show now seems to recognize Bo as the more talented – or at least flashier – driver, Luke serves as Bo’s crew chief. In this position, Luke is relegated to the standard attire worn by all of Bo’s pit crew, a white polyester short-sleeve polo with a large collar and a two-bullet placket. (The producers likely tried to find blue plaid polos for consistency’s sake.)
While acting as Bo’s crew chief, Luke also wears the standard red “trucker” hat seen on all members of the pit crew. Both the shirt and the hat are emblazoned with the Carver family’s coat of arms, an ornately supported blue, red, and white shield with “CARVER” scrolled in the gold bottom banner. If you never saw the episode, Carver is the surname of the mob syndicate kingpin and his sultry daughter that practically – but innocently enough – seduces Bo back into the driver’s seat.
Luke foregoes the red pants and white belt that the other crewmen wear, exercising his crew chief’s power to just wear his usual jeans and belt. He does wear a pair of black sneakers, however; as backup driver, he could hardly be expected to hop into the seat of a stock car and maneuver appropriately on a track in his cowboy boots.
Luke Dresses Up
Few occasions on the show call for Bo and Luke to wear anything more formal than their usual shirt and jeans, but a visit to their probation officer in “High Octane” (Episode 1.05) shows them both slightly dressed up in countrified suits, ties, and dressier versions of their usual shirts.
Luke, of course, wears an all-denim suit that gives new meaning to the term “Texas tuxedo”*. Though his coat and trousers are both blue denim, it is a matching suit rather than his usual casual jacket and jeans. The jacket is single-breasted with wide notch lapels that roll down the front to two white plastic buttons. There are three matching white plastic buttons on each cuff, and the white motif is continued throughout with edge stitching on the lapels, seams, and pocket jetting.
* More relevant slang for this Southern-oriented show than “Canadian tuxedo”.
There are two large patch pockets on the hips and a smaller jetted ticket pocket just above the right hip pocket. The shoulders are unstructured and the belted rear has a single vent. This garment is likely one of the ugliest but most period-specific items you’ll see on this blog.
The denim suit trousers are also curious. Not necessarily jeans, they still have the basic structure of jeans with the curved front pockets and belt loops. He wears a plaid black leather belt with a rounded dull black metal clasp rather than his usual belt. He appears to be wearing his same dark brown boots as usual, but a clashing of black belt and brown boots is far from the worst part of this outfit.
Luke’s shirt is brown and white plaid with a blue overcheck. He never removes his jacket or tie, but it appears to be styled similarly to his others with a large spread collar, snap front, and flapped chest pockets. His solid dark brown polyester tie is actually a nice match with this egregious outfit.
Luke would later wear this same brown and white plaid shirt in the series’ sole Christmas episode, “The Great Santa Clause Chase” (Episode 3.09). For this scene, set during the Dukes’ family Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve, he wears it with his jeans and boots rather than another denim leisure suit.
The Christmas episode also features a “High Octane” callback for Bo, as he wears his brown suede jacket for the majority of the episode. Bo’s jacket was only featured in these episodes, but I’ll delve into that more for Monday’s post.
Both cousins also dressed up in their “suits” for a wedding in “The Runaway” (Episode 2.14), wearing the same shirts and ties and confirming the suspicion that their closets are quite limited.
Neither Duke boy goes in much for accessories, despite the turquoise jewelry and cowboy hats worn in much of the show’s early promotional material.
“Daisy’s Song” (Episode 1.02) contained yet another true sartorial anomaly for the show as Bo and Luke each wear a pair of aviator sunglasses while scoping out the music scene in Atlanta. Luke wears a pair of gold-framed aviators with amber gradient lenses.
The sunglasses evidently belonged to Wopat, and he can be seen wearing them between takes in some behind-the-scenes photographs like this one from the filming of “The Big Heist” (Episode 1.08).
In lieu of wristwatches, both Bo and Luke carried silver open-faced pocket watches. They rarely used them, but Luke kept his in his right jeans pocket (as seen in Episode 1.11, “Money to Burn”).
Both Bo and Luke also like to be ready for any situation, and they keep knives worn in black leather pouches on the right side of their belts. Luke’s flapped pouch closes with a single silver snap.
During the fourth season, Luke began wearing a plain silver ring on his right pinky.
I don’t believe the ring is given any explanation within the show, but it may have something to do with Wopat’s first wife, Vickie, whom he married in October 1984. Though he is wearing the ring in episodes filmed at least a year before the marriage, this ring could’ve been an engagement symbol… or maybe Wopat just became a “ring guy” during the interim.
In the short time between Wopat being cast and the first episode being filmed in the fall of 1978, CBS and Warner Brothers decided to begin heavily publicizing the show, worried that it wouldn’t catch on anywhere but the rural markets. The campaign was designed to lure in younger viewers who would ideally be attracted to any of the three leads. Most of the marketing excluded older characters like Boss Hogg, Rosco, and Uncle Jesse, focusing primarily on Bo, Luke, and Daisy.
The more traditionally agrarian aspects of the show were also played up heavily in the campaigns with each of the leads – and often all of them – wearing flashy wide-brimmed cowboy hats, despite Bo being the only one to actually wear one on the show (and only briefly in the pilot episode at that!) Perhaps since there wasn’t one available in blue, Tom Wopat was given a gray cowboy hat for much of the promotional photo shoots.
As the photo shoots began to creep up on the actual filming dates, costumes became more and more accurate to what would be seen on the show. Interestingly, many of these early photo sessions feature Luke wearing a blue chambray snap-down shirt more than a year before he would actually wear one for the show’s second season. It was as though the producers had it in storage, intending for him to eventually wear it.
Tom Wopat was rarely – if ever – photographed for the promotions while wearing his jacket. This was likely to emphasize the “beefcake” factor, which would also explain why Bo forewent his usual undershirt for these photos.
Since Wopat picked up Luke’s “bear claw” belt buckle during filming, the ornate gold belt buckle is different than the one he would eventually wear on the show.
When the show picked up production after the Christmas break, it was now filmed in California to keep costs lower. Another photo session was executed in Griffith Park, under the Hollywood sign, using the same “unmarked” General Lee. For this shoot, Luke indeed wore a plaid shirt although it featured red and brown far more prominently than his usual blue. The gray cowboy hat also made its return for some of this shoot.
Go Big or Go Home
Although The Dukes of Hazzard was never lauded for character development or continuity, Tom Wopat’s portrayal of Luke is a consistent and smart characterization of an ex-Marine who’d been all around the world and still chose to stay in Hazzard County to cause trouble with his impulsive cousin. Luke was hardly ever the one actually causing trouble, of course, and he was often the one forced to come up with the master plan to get he and Bo out of trouble.
Relatively intelligent, rational, and mature, Luke often left the reckless driving of the General Lee to Bo and preferred to fight the duo’s physical battles. He had been an amateur boxer while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and had risen at least as high as a sergeant’s rank as mentioned by a fugitive convict in “Sittin’ Dukes” (Episode 7.11).
Despite being the cooler-headed of the two, Luke could still be regarded as a rascal. Especially in the earlier, less family-friendly episodes, Luke’s reputation as a lady-killer is alluded to more than once. When Jilly Rae Dodson (what a name) shows up in the pilot episode to ask for help saving the local orphanage, Bo jokes – or does he? – that at least two of the kids in the orphanage probably belonged to Luke. In the next episode, “Daisy’s Song” (Episode 1.02), one of Luke’s old girlfriends that now works in a trailer brothel tells him that hew new life as a prostitute is far preferable than being one of his girlfriends.
Perhaps due to his military experience or more physical characteristics, Luke is often the one handling guns when the Dukes come into contact with them. It’s rare, especially since the boys’ probation keeps them from possessing firearms, but Luke almost always is the one disarming their foes. In “Daisy’s Song” (Episode 1.02), he takes a pair of Smith & Wesson .44 Magnums from Jojo, an imposing bodyguard. In “High Octane” (Episode 1.05), he sticks a Star Model BM pistol taken from a Treasury agent into his waistband. Even the opening credits feature Luke delicately placing Enos’ revolver back in its holster after the cousins found the deputy playing around in the pilot episode.
Due to their probation, both Bo and Luke opt for bows and arrows rather than guns. The show used unbranded bows after it got more popular, but early episodes feature Martin bows with Bo using the Martin “Warthog” and Luke preferring the Martin “Cougar II”. Since the Dukes revenge on “property, not people”, the arrows are often laden with a stick of dynamite to blow up an unoccupied building or car and ruin whatever scheme Boss Hogg or the villain of the week had dreamed up.
One of the most defining traits of Luke’s character came from a mistake during the filming of “Daisy’s Song” (Episode 1.02). The episode found Bo and Luke on the run from a police raid at an Atlanta recording studio where the two were mistakenly believed to be co-conspirators. They took it on the heel and ran out to the back where Daisy waited in the General Lee. Bo, naturally, slipped behind the driver’s seat. At that point, Luke was supposed to jump over the hood of the car to the passenger side. Instead, Tom Wopat’s foot caught the edge of the hood, causing his leg to slide across it. The hoodslide became one of the coolest aspects of the show, and the showrunners chose to use the flubbed take of Wopat sliding rather than the later, correct take of his vault over the hood.
Wopat later admitted that this first slide had been a painful one, having caught his arm on the hood’s radio aerial and slicing open a four-inch gash in his arm. All subsequent General Lees wisely had the aerial totally removed to reduce any further risk of injuries.
Where is Hazzard County?
The first five episodes – the ones actually filmed in Georgia – are much clearer about the true location of Hazzard County. It’s obviously in Georgia, due to the reasonable driving distance to Atlanta in “Daisy’s Song” (Episode 1.02), and Georgia state highway signs are seen scattered throughout. Certain landmarks such as the Newton County Courthouse in Covington stick out to knowledgeable Southerners.
After the show’s move to California, these authentic location highlights went by the wayside in favor of a rustic-looking Warner Brothers set. Instead of Atlanta, many Southern cities were named in various episodes, adding a little more ambiguity to the mix. Quaint bucolic-sounding names are vaguely used; we learn in “The Runaway” that the Duke farm is on Mill Pond Road, eighteen miles outside of “town”.
Although the town of Hazard, Kentucky has been adopted by the show’s fans as an unofficial mecca, true fans recognize Newton County, Georgia as the real Hazzard County. Dukes fans who find themselves in the area should especially check out:
- The Old Newton County Courthouse in Covington Town Square, 1124 Clark Street SW, Covington, GA 30014
- The Georgia United Credit Union which doubled for the original Hazzard County jail in the pilot, 1281 Milstead Avenue NE, Conyers, GA 30012
- The real Boar’s Nest building – now a Baptist church, of all things – at 290 Flat Rock Road, Oxford, GA 30054
- Seney Hall on the Oxford College of Emory University campus where the General Lee jumped over Rosco’s police cruiser in the pilot episode and end of each opening credits sequence, also located in Oxford
- The original Duke farm at 2201 Lenora Road, Loganville, GA 30052
Other than the farm, Covington Town Square received the most on-show exposure and appeared in “One-Armed Bandits” (Episode 1.01), “Repo Men” (Episode 1.04), and “High Octane” (Episode 1.05).
Chris Credendino wrote an excellent and informative post in July 2014, chronicling his adventures along “the Dukes of Hazzard tour” from Covington to Conyers. In addition to mapping out the best route, he also created a fascinating and all-inclusive series of photos and observations describing how each place has changed in the last 35 years.
Chris also visits the spots of many famous jumps and stunts from the first five episodes. Some of the most interesting remarks come from his observations of how close everything was. According to Chris, Cooter’s junkyard, the gas station from “Mary Kaye’s Baby”, and the opening jump from “High Octane” were all within a few feet of each other.
Sadly, many of the landmarks from the original filming have fallen into ruin or have been demolished, including the Duke farmhouse which dated back to the Civil War. Luckily, Covington – informally dubbed “Hollywood South” – continues to be a popular location for feature films and TV shows, providing a welcome boost to the local economy and adding an authentic and colorful Southern flair to major productions.
How to Get the Look
Luke Duke mastered the “denim sandwich” look.
- Blue denim jacket with 6 brass buttons, flapped chest pockets, 1-button cuffs, and 2-button waistband adjusters
- White-and-blue tartan plaid flannel snap-front shirt with large spread collar, Western-style yoke, snap-flapped chest pockets, and triple-snap cuffs
- Dark blue denim bootcut jeans
- Brown leather belt
- Silver “bear claw” belt buckle with five black “paw print” marks and turquoise palm (with red enamel center)
- Black leather knife pouch with snap-closed flap pocket, worn on right side of belt
- Dark brown leather cowhide leather riding boots (or “cowboy boots”) with squared toes and “walking” heels
- White cotton high-rise tube socks
Other shirts came and went, but this is the definitive Luke Duke outfit. A few hours in a Goodwill – preferably one south of the Mason-Dixon line – should yield the right items to complete your Duke boy attire.
The (Other) Cars
The pilot episode, “One-Armed Bandits”, alludes to Luke owning a car that was stolen by Cooter and impounded by the sheriff’s department. Either this idea was abandoned (likely), or Luke didn’t seem to care that he didn’t have his own car for six years after this. Although Bo is often thought to be the most talented driver of the two, Luke was certainly no slouch behind the wheel and got plenty of time in with General Lee, as well as the show’s other cars.
He also has an innate skill for driving new vehicles, impressing casino host Helen Hogan with his handiness behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler in “Route 7-11” (Episode 1.12)… the first time he had ever driven one.
Many of the cars that Luke handled happened to be Plymouths.
Daisy’s Road Runner
As it isn’t officially confirmed as Daisy’s car until the second season when she shows her fury at the boys for destroying it, the yellow 1974 Plymouth Road Runner seen throughout the first season was often shared by the Duke family, but especially Luke and Daisy. This car got plenty of airtime during the first season when the producers still allowed the show to have plots before deciding that the General Lee needed to be the centerpiece of each show.
In “Daisy’s Song” (Episode 1.02), the Road Runner’s big-block engine is briefly seen and appears to be either the 400 or 440 V8. Based on availability, it’s likely that Daisy’s Road Runner had the 400.
1974 Plymouth Road Runner
Body Style: 2-door coupe
Layout: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive (RWD)
Engine: 400 cu. in. (6.6 L) Chrysler “B”-series V8 with a Carter 4-barrel carburetor
Power: 250 hp (186.5 kW; 254 PS) @ 4800 RPM
Torque: 330 lb·ft (447 N·m) @ 3400 RPM
Transmission: 3-speed Chrysler TorqueFlite automatic
Wheelbase: 115 inches (2921 mm)
Length: 203.2 in. (5161 mm)
Width: 79.1 in. (2009 mm)
Height: 52.9 in. (3444 mm)
In her recollections, Catherine Bach often mistakes the model of her car and talks about her “yellow Dodge Charger”. This is not an outlandish mistake, as this generation of Chargers and Road Runners were very similar-looking Mopar muscle cars. Plus, all the talk of Chargers around the set in the constant scramble for General Lees must have further clouded Bach’s memory.
The show had five Road Runners in their inventory by the time filming moved to California halfway through the first season. Having difficulty securing the high-performance Road Runners, the show quietly switched Daisy’s car to a 1971 Plymouth Satellite Sebring. The Satellite was a very similar model, and – once it was re-painted yellow with the ’74 Road Runner’s black strobe stipes and hood stripes – debuted quietly as Daisy’s car in “Money to Burn” (Episode 1.11).
Interestingly, in “Goodbye, General Lee” (4.11) when a hypnotized Luke convinces Bo to get rid of the General Lee and get another car, they pick up a cream 1974 Plymouth Satellite Sebring for $1,500. Needless to say, this decision is not long-lasting.
Cooter’s Plymouth Fury
Fans are often surprised to learn that there was an episode where the General Lee wasn’t featured at all! The third episode, “Mary Kaye’s Baby”, finds Bo and Luke behind the wheel of Cooter’s blue 1975 Plymouth Fury sedan. Unbeknownst to them – and against the terms of their probation – the car is full of moonshine that Cooter needed to deliver.
1975 Plymouth Fury
Body Style: 4-door sedan
Layout: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive (RWD)
Engine: 318 cu. in. (5.2 L) Chrysler “LA”-series V8 with a Carter 2-bbl carburetor
Power: 150 hp (112 kW; 152 PS) @ 4000 RPM
Torque: 255 lb·ft (346 N·m) @ 1600 RPM
Transmission: 3-speed Chrysler TorqueFlite automatic
Wheelbase: 117.5 inches (2984 mm)
Length: 218.0 in. (5537 mm)
Width: 54.3 in. (1379 mm)
Height: 77.7 in. (1974 mm)
While it’s not totally clear why the Dukes would need to be driving this car (as Cooter could’ve easily borrowed the General and left the moonshine in there), it all makes sense in the episode’s climax when the Fury is destroyed by Luke’s dynamite-carrying arrow. Still, “Mary Kaye’s Baby” is an impressive episode that should’ve taught the producers a lesson that a show can be made interesting by its plot rather than just a super car.
Fury sedans received plenty of exposure – and damage – on The Dukes of Hazzard by serving as the ill-fated police cars. Cooter’s Fury is never specifically stated as having a 318 V8, but it was the base option for 1975 Fury V8 sedans and the most likely choice. All that Cooter volunteers about the car itself is that it has Edelbrock headers.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the series… or just catch reruns on CMT.
If the whole series is a bit much, take my advice and just check out the first season, which is my favorite.
Bo, you drive like my fanny whips apple butter.
The Dukes of Hazzard was an ubiquitous part of my formative years for better (values) or worse (driving). In high school, a group of friends and I developed The Dirty South, a short series meant to be the “spiritual successor” to Dukes. The show featured two brothers – not cousins – who lived in an unincorporated area of Newton County, Georgia and continued their moonshining business under the unscrupulous nose of the white-suited county commissioner and his borderline moronic deputy sheriff.
Okay, so it may be more of a Dukes copycat than I choose to admit, but it was fun to make and it allowed me to show off just how good of a performer my 1992 Plymouth Acclaim V6 sedan could be in some of Pittsburgh’s forgotten rural areas. I peppered the show with a soundtrack featuring Jerry Reed and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the theme song was Glen Campbell’s crossover camp classic “Southern Nights” from 1977… an interesting (and somewhat ironic) choice considering that the shoe was actually filmed in the north and almost exclusively during the day.
My attire on the show was more varied than the Duke boys, but my blue Aeropostale denim jacket was a staple. This magic jacket fit me just as well in high school when I weighed 160 pounds as it does now with me somewhat over 200 pounds. (Blame the Arby’s.) I plan on adding a page to this blog with photos, videos, and other samples of some of the fun stuff I filmed during these days, and The Dirty South will certainly be featured.
I wasn’t the only one recreating The Dukes of Hazzard‘s magic recently; John Schneider and Tom Wopat also reunited this summer for an Autotrader commercial that found both of them back in the General Lee and evading a series of police cars.
I refuse to discuss Coy and Vance. Consider this their sole mention. Ugh.
A Final Note
Thanks to all BAMF Style readers for your patience. It may be frustrating for some who expect to see posts about Cary Grant’s suits, James Bond’s dinner jackets, or Steve McQueen’s badass casual wear, but this was a labor of love for me. Monday’s Bo Duke post will probably be about the same length as this one, so non-Dukes fans can take the day off unless you want to read about the General Lee or maybe learn something new about a show that arguably had a large impact on American culture.
This post really brings back some memories. I haven’t seen much of the show since it’s original run on CBS. When this show hit the air, the denim jacket replaced Fonzi’s leather jacket as the epitome of cool, plus for a 5th grader at the time, something much easier to obtain. Even though the denim, or trucker jacket, is still quite popular, I do not think I could bring myself to wear one now that I’m in my 40’s. The clothing style of the show may not be for everyone, the Duke boys outfits aren’t dated. I like Luke’s plaid as opposed to Bo’s solid shirts, but finding one’s that fit can be a chore. Most of the ones offered are cut for rather large framed individuals, including shirts from GAP and Lucky Brand(??). I stick to the Calvin Klein plaid shirts for the best fit.
I’m gonna have to revisit the Duke boys, Roscoe, and his fat little buddy real soon (hopefully on hulu).
I’ve found Raylan Givens’ casual attire on Justified to be a fine spiritual successor to Luke’s. He often wears a denim jacket and jeans with either a henley or a flannel shirt, and he often layers a dark overcoat with it.
Rewatching classic episodes of the Dukes is always a fun way for me to pass a nostalgic hour. As I say, watching the way the stunt team was able to launch those cars in the air never fails to impress. I know they’re not on Netflix, but I hope – for your sake – that they’re on Hulu!
While I was never a huge fan of the show, I’ll be reading this post again, LS. Very well written, a definite labour of love.
Thanks! The show was a big part of my childhood and both cousins’ particular style of snap shirts, belt buckles, and jeans always sneaks its way into my fall wardrobe.
Not a fan of the show or the style, but a great read nonetheless.
Funny you should write this up now as I’ve casually looked for years for Luke’s bear claw buckle. Finally id’d it, sort of, this year. The original isn’t silver but pewter. I’ve seen two on ebay but haven’t been able to catch one yet. It’s possibly made buy a company called RJ, as there are some very similar ones in that name(hummingbirds, road runners, eagles, etc), although the two I’ve seen were only marked pewter and T-4 or similar.
Here are a couple of pics.
Something really cool I’ve found though is an almost exact but idealized version in silver that’s currently being made. It’s a beauty with the extra etching etc. Not what you want for total screen accuracy but a nice piece none the less.
I’m glad they added that it was the “same” design used by Luke Duke as the auctions where I originally found it didn’t mention the connection. It’s obviously heavily inspired/directly copied.
This is an informative article on this subject and I really enjoyed the read. My regards and appreciation to the writer of this amazing material.
jese good personage.