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Boss Hogg (Sorrell Book)

Sorrell Booke as Boss Hogg in the Dukes of Hazard TV series.

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 appeared for many years on radio, stage, and film before finding the role that made him a household name. 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.

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 anything (as did the real life Boss Tweed) to get his hands on more money, including executing many nefarious and criminal schemes. 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.

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 Boss's powers 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 a 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 car.

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.[1]

Sorrell Booke was only slightly overweight at best. He wore padding under his suit to give Boss his familiar 62 inch waist.[citation needed]

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.

Schemes

Criminal

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. 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.

Traffic schemes

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, and Mickey Gilley,and Loretta Lynn, whose performance he also tried to pirate.

Rivalries

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. 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. To Boss's disgust, Lulu is genuinely friendly with the Duke family,

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 back 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 Cadillac DeVille convertible, with large bull horns for a hood ornament. 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.

Boss Hogg in Film

Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds)

Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg in the live-action film Dukes of Hazard.

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).

References in popular culture

  • In an episode of Red vs. Blue, Caboose refers to the Warthog as the Boss Hogg.
  • In Mike Jones' song "Still Tippin'", Slim Thug refers to himself as "Boss Hogg on candy"; in real life, Slim Thug was nicknamed Boss Hogg since he drove a Cadillac convertible as a teenager; his entourage is known as the Boss Hogg Outlaws.
  • Washington Redskins Offensive Line Coach (later Offensive Coordinator, now Assistant Head Coach-Offense) Joe Bugel was nicknamed "Boss Hog" in the 1982 NFL season because he was in charge of The Hogs, the Redskins' offensive line.
  • A character in The Simpsons called Lurleen Lumpkin has a father named Royce whose middle name is Boss Hogg.
  • Boss Hogg and Enos (Sonny Shroyer) appeared in an episode of Alice, in which the character Jolene Hunnicutt is depicted as a distant relation of Hogg's.
  • The Dallas Cowboys new stadium is referred to as Boss Hogg Stadium by many residents of the Metroplex, one of which is Randy Galloway of ESPN Radio's (KESN, FM 103.3) Galloway & Company.

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