42 Years Ago: ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ Premieres on TV
The Dukes of Hazzard became a cultural phenomenon, and it all started on Jan. 26. 1979, when the show premiered on CBS.
The Dukes of Hazzard was based on a 1975 film called Moonrunners. The first episode of the show's first season was titled 'One Armed Bandits,' and it introduced viewers to the main characters and some of the broad plot points that would dominate the long-running series.
John Schneider and Tom Wopat starred as Bo and Luke Duke, two "good old boys," as the song's iconic theme song from Waylon Jennings described them, who always conducted their lives just a little bit on the wrong side of the law.
The show focused on the Duke family's multi-generational dispute with a corrupt local kingpin named Boss Hogg, their Uncle Jesse's nemesis. The simple, fun plots often hinged on the cousins' various run-ins with the local sheriff, Rosco P. Coltrane, who's in Boss Hogg's pocket. Catherine Bach played the Duke boys' cousin, Daisy, whose skimpy costumes were the inspiration for the Daisy Dukes jean shorts that have been popular ever since in Southern fashion.
The series' very first episode began with one of the iconic car chases between the Duke boys and the sheriff's car, introducing fans to the spectacular car jumps that would become a signature part of every episode of the show as the Dukes raced around the rural roads in their souped-up Dodge Charger, the General Lee.
The Dukes of Hazzard ran from 1979-1985 before wrapping up on Feb. 7, 1985, and it's inspired several reunion movies and even a full-scale theatrical movie from 2005 since then.
See the Cast of The Dukes of Hazzard Then and Now: