Back in 1979, when Dukes of Hazzard first aired, the producers wanted to come up with an idea that would be aimed at the country market: they have noticed that country songs were always topping the charts, but there was no series aimed at this particular niche.
As producer Gy Waldron said, each episode was designed to resemble an arc described by any country music song, so that in turn musicians would draw inspiration from these episodes. In another article maybe we will talk more about this – however, the show proved to be a very successful one, its ratings coming second only to Dallas.
Believe it or not, the show’s premise was a simple one and could be traced to an actual moonshiner, a 12 year old kid named Jerry Elijah who drove a modified 1958 Chrysler 300D called The Traveller (the name of General Lee’s horse – obviously, the series named its most famous car General Lee). A movie was actually made following the boy’s life, a movie called Moonrunners.
When casting was made, John Schneider knew that the producers were looking for a redneck-like actor, so he introduced himself as one, even if he was a New Yorker. He grew a stubble, drank lots of beer (and showed it by having a can with him always), he chewed tobacco and whatnot, all to impress the producers.
He also knew that he would have to be a very good driver in order to get the part, so he said that he has graduated from the Georgia School of High Performance Driving – and, if this institute did exist, he would have probably graduated. But the school didn’t exist – nonetheless, he did get the job and so about 150 Dodge Chargers were destroyed by the end of the series.
Another important part in the redneck cast was played by Catherine Bach, who herself came up with the idea of wearing denim shorts. Originally, she was supposed to don a miniskirt. But she came up with a new garment, shorts which were later called Daisy Dukes.
But these weren’t the only ideas she came up with, since many of the clothes she wore in Dukes of Hazzard (especially during the first season) were handmade by herself, including in here several tops, as well as the famous bikini One-Armed Bandits.
As far as Tom Wopat is concerned, he did live the country life, since by the end of the series he released several country albums and started touring starting from 1981. When Dukes of Hazzard came to a halt, he held the number 1 at the Billboard Country Chart.
Undeniably, Dukes of Hazzard made history not just as a TV show, but also as a lifestyle.