Bio by Lisa Philbrick. With info from the Dukes of Hazzard Unofficial Companion
Born in Tarboro, North Carolina on August 31, 1941, Ben Jones (middle name, Lewis) spent his childhood in Portsmouth, Virginia unfortunately collecting a criminal record. At 16 he started drinking, a habit that would take him several years to kick but otherwise he had turned most of his life around by the time he entered college with the money saved from working several odd jobs. While at the University of North Carolina, Ben discovered acting and went from college productions to summer stock in a short time. In 1963 he made his professional debut in the musical “Show Boat.”
Eighty plays, thirty television and films and more than two hundred radio and TV commercials later, Ben auditioned for the role of Cooter Davenport in 1978. At the time he was living in Georgia and his portrayal of a crazy good ol’ boy in a baseball cap and shirt with sleeves torn off won him the role.
After the Dukes, Cooter went to Congress–literally! Ben served as a Democrat for the 4th district of Georgia from 1989-1993. Lost in 1986, won in 1988 and 1990, lost in 1992 after Georgia’s districts were redrawn, putting Jones in the 10th district. Ran against Newt Gingrich in the 6th District in 1994.
You can read all about Ben Jones’ fascinating life in his book Redneck Boy In The Promised Land.
Now living in Virginia, Ben owns and operates with his wife “Cooter’s Place” a living museum of sorts and memorabilia store to the Dukes of Hazzard. There are General Lee replicas, Dukes merchandise and daily airings of Dukes of Hazzard episodes. Several cast members from the show have made appearances there and have drawn crowds numbering in the thousands.