Jan. 26, 1979
60 min.
CBS TV Network

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The Dukes of Hazzard tv show photo

The Dukes of Hazzard

The Duke Family -- cousins Bo ( John Schneider ) and Luke ( Tom Wopat ), assisted by their cousin Daisy ( Catherine Bach ) and their uncle, Jesse ( Denver Pyle )-- fight the system and root out the corrupt practices of Hazzard County Commissioner Boss Hogg ( Sorrell Booke ) and his bumbling brother-in-law-Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane ( James Best ).

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Uncle Jesse Duke The Dukes of Hazzard
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Uncle Jesse Duke

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  Played by:
Denver PyleDenver Pyle
A rather wanderlust fellow before he latched onto acting, Denver Pyle--who made a career of playing ...

Character Bio

Uncle Jesse Duke photo
Jesse L. Duke, most commonly known as "Uncle Jesse", is played by Denver Pyle.

He is one of only two characters to appear in every episode of the TV series, the other being Boss Hogg.

Jesse was uncle to Bo, Luke, Daisy, Coy, Vance, and Jeb Duke. Jesse, his niece and, periodically, his nephews, lived in an unincorporated area of the fictional Hazzard County, in Georgia. Jesse was the patriarch of the Duke family and the father-figure to all Dukes who stayed with him on the dilapidated "Duke Farm". Jesse, a long-time widower who apparently had no children of his own, happily provided for his nephews and niece in the absence of their parents—all tragically killed in a car wreck years earlier. Despite an occasionally gruff exterior (usually brought on by the trouble that his nephews found themselves in, or by Boss Hogg's crooked schemes), he was a very kind and loving man, and his popularity in Hazzard was reflected by the fact that just about everyone in the area, not just relatives, called him "Uncle" Jesse. He was known for dispensing sage-like wisdom to his niece and nephews, who often found themselves in trouble with the corrupt local officials, Boss Hogg and Rosco P. Coltrane.

According to the film, Uncle Jesse was a Korean War veteran. The narrator indicated that Jesse had only been to two places in his life: Hazzard County and Korea, and believed that was "one place too many".

A flashback episode, which featured the shows actors portraying their own ancestors post-Civil War, had him mentioning the clan had come to America in the 1700s and had resided there ever since. Since the early 18th century, up until the late 1970s, the Duke family had a family tradition of making what was commonly known in Hazzard County as "The finest shine this side of the Mason-Dixon." However, after his nephews Bo and Luke were arrested, tried and convicted for illegally-transporting moonshine, Jesse Duke struck a deal with the government: he would cease and desist all moonshine brewing in exchange for Bo and Luke being released on probation.

Jesse Duke drove a 1973-77 Ford F-100 pickup truck.

Jesse remained in Hazzard long after his niece and nephews had moved on. Sometime between 1985 and 1997, the farmhouse was replaced with a much better quality two-story house. In 1997, he chaired the Hazzard Homecoming reunion committee, although he was alienated by much of the town by rejecting "Mama Maxx"'s plans to build a theme park on Hazzard Swamp - creating additional jobs, revenue and entertainment for Hazzard County. However, in order to build the park, Maxx needed access to the Duke farm. For the Swamp's sake, Jesse held out and eventually - Bo, Luke, and Daisy returned to help their uncle, and - in the process - exposed Maxx's plan as fraud: she wanted the rights to the land solely to mine for its valuable ore.
Shortly after this last adventure, Jesse died (Pyle had died in December 1997). However, his legacy lived on through the many of his famous recipes that were passed to his friends and family. Cooter used Jesse's barbecue sauce recipe to enter the Hazzard Hoe-Down BBQ sauce contest in 2000. But due to a missing secret ingredient, he could only muster second place. Just after the contest, thanks to Enos, Cooter inadvertently discovered the secret ingredient.

'Willie Nelson' portrayed Uncle Jesse in the 2005 film The Dukes of Hazzard and in the 2007 film The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning. This version of the character was known for his seemingly endless repertoire of risque one-liner jokes and his singing ability, in addition to his sage-like advice. In reference to Nelson's well-publicized support for marijuana legalization, Nelson's Jesse also was shown enjoying a puff of pot.

Episode Screenshots

04x05 - The Fugitive
Season 4, Episode 05
07x01 - Happy Birthday, General Lee
Season 7, Episode 01
03x20 - Bye, Bye, Boss
Season 3, Episode 20
05x19 - Welcome Back Bo 'n' Luke
Season 5, Episode 19
[More Episodes]

Uncle Jesse Duke Photos

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