Sorrell Booke

Active - 1963 - 1991  |   Born - Jan 4, 1926   |   Died - Feb 11, 1994   |   Genres - Comedy, Action, Drama, Crime, Mystery

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Biography by Hal Erickson

The son of a Buffalo physician, Sorrell Booke was encouraged from an early age to entertain his relatives with jokes, songs, and imitations. An inveterate radio fan, young Booke would send away to the major networks for copies of scripts, then act out all the parts -- a different voice for each character -- in the privacy of his room. He turned his hobby into a vocation after high school, appearing with frequency in locally produced dramatic radio programs. While attending Columbia and Yale, Booke spent his summers playing old men in various stock companies, then appeared with the Provincetown Playhouse in Massachusetts. During the Korean War, Booke spent two years in counterintelligence, where his mastery of five languages came in handy. After making his Broadway debut in 1955, Booke understudied Tom Bosley in Fiorello! and created the role of bombastic white supremacist Ol' Captain Cotchipee in Ossie Davis' Purlie Victorious, repeating the latter assignment in the 1963 film version. For all his greyed-up character parts, Booke's most fondly remembered role of the early '60s was the mentally retarded brother of Martin Balsam in an episode of TV's Dr. Kildare. Likewise essayed with unexpected subtlety and sensitivity were his characters in the theatrical features Bye Bye Braverman (1968) and Up the Down Staircase (1970). But neither subtlety nor sensitivity were required for Booke's signature role: the lovably larcenous Jefferson Davis "Boss" Hogg on the weekly adventure series The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985). Sorrell Booke's last film assignment was a typically blustery voice-over in the animated feature Rock-a-Doodle; he died of cancer in 1994, just one month after his 64th birthday.

Movie Highlights

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