Bio by Lisa Philbrick. With info from the Dukes of Hazzard Unofficial Companion
Born in Buffalo, New York on January 4, 1930, Sorrell showed at a young age a talent for different voices and story telling. A very intelligent individual, he graduated from highschool at 16 and enrolled at Columbia University. In a campus variety show he played “Senator Cottonmouth” his first (but certainly not his last!) Southern politician role. After graduation from Columbia he entered Yale and earned a master’s degree in Fine Arts.
After the Korean War, where he spent two years in counterintelligence, Sorrell appeared on Broadway and then began appearing in different television series’ starting in 1957. He would go on to appear in over 150 productions ranging from “Route 66” and “The Patty Duke Show” to “M*A*S*H” and “The Rockford Files.” In 1978 he was called to audition for the role of Boss Jefferson Davis Hogg.
There couldn’t have been a character with a background (or size!) so opposite of Sorrell than that of Boss Hogg. To obtain Boss’s hefty girth, Sorrell wore padding and although he smoked the cigars in front of the cameras, off camera he preferred cigarettes. He also spoke five languages, including Japanese, which he used to speak to several Japanese tourists on the set one time. James Best thought he was joking around and told him afterwards that it wasn’t nice to do that. Sorrell informed that he did indeed speak Japanese!
After the end of the series, Sorrell appeared in several television shows, including “Full House” where he played a somewhat cranky business man on the same flight as the Tanners on Christmas Eve. But that same cranky business man…happened to be Santa. Sorrell also did voices for different animated movies including 1992’s “Rockadoodle.”
Sorrell Booke passed away on February 11, 1994.