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Ben Jones (American actor and politician)

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Ben Lewis Jones (born August 30, 1941) is an American actor, politician, playwright and essayist, best known for his role as Cooter Davenport in The Dukes of Hazzard. Jones also served for four years in the United States House of Representatives from January 3, 1989 to January 3, 1993.

Ben Jones
Ben L. Jones 101st Congress 1989.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 4th district
In office
January 3, 1989 – January 3, 1993
Preceded byPat Swindall
Succeeded byJohn Linder
Personal details
Ben Lewis Jones

(1941-08-30) August 30, 1941 (age 77)
Tarboro, North Carolina, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic


Personal lifeEdit

Jones is a 1959 graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School in Portsmouth, Virginia and attended the University of North Carolina for four years. He is married to Alma Viator.[1] By previous wives, Ben has a daughter, Rachel, and a son, Walker.

Ben Jones and the General Lee, taken outside his store "Cooter's Place" in Sperryville, Virginia in 1999.

Since the 1990s, Jones has run a chain of "Cooter's museums" across the U.S., dedicated to The Dukes of Hazzard. "Cooter's Place" currently has locations in Tennessee and Virginia.[2]

The Dukes of HazzardEdit

Ben Jones made his first TV appearance in the show Movin' On in 1975. He appeared in the movie Moon Runners in 1975, which was also directed by The Dukes of Hazzard director, Gy Waldron. Gy Waldron met with Jones after the movie was released to discuss creating The Dukes of Hazzard. Jones was the first to audition for The Dukes of Hazzard.

Critics first predicted that the show 'would not last after the first commercial break'. The television show proved to be a huge success, running from 1979 to 1985 and garnering countless fans throughout the world.

When meeting with fans at a recent autograph signing session, Jones stated he 'greatly disapproved' the production of The Dukes of Hazzard movies (2005, 2007). Jones stated that he disliked the portrayal of Uncle Jesse by Willie Nelson and the portrayal of Daisy Duke by Jessica Simpson. Jones stated that the original TV show, was a 'family television show', but with Hollywood's adaptation, it wasn't 'as family friendly'.[3]

Political careerEdit

Following the end of The Dukes of Hazzard, Jones entered the political arena as a Democrat. In 1986, he ran unsuccessfully against Pat Swindall for a seat in the United States House of Representatives from Georgia, garnering 47% of the vote, more than expected.[4] He ran again in 1988, against Swindall, this time easily winning with 60% of the vote. Jones was narrowly re-elected in 1990, but in 1992, following redistricting which moved his home into another district, he was defeated in the Democratic primary election. In 1994, he ran against the then-House Minority Whip and soon-to-be House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Jones received 35% of the vote.

Jones has since returned to acting, as well as becoming a well-known writer, writing many political essays and a one-man play about Dizzy Dean in which he plays the famous "Gashouse Gang" pitcher and baseball announcer.[5]

In 1998, he broke from most Democrats and called on President Bill Clinton to resign during his impeachment. Jones is still active in the Democratic Party. In 2002, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the United States House from Virginia against Republican incumbent Eric Cantor, thus becoming one of very few recent American politicians to seek elective office in more than one state.

Confederate flag controversyEdit

In 2015, Jones announced his support of the Confederate flag, which can be seen on the exterior top of The Dukes of Hazzard signature car, the General Lee. His defense of the flag served as his response to Warner Bros.' decision to no longer manufacture any merchandise that features the flag, such as the General Lee, and the discontinuation of reruns of the show due to Dylann Roof's infamous reputation associated with the flag.[6][7][8][9][10][11]


  1. ^ "Top Fund-Raiser Is Also a Billionaire's Wife" New York Times November 3, 1996 By Elizabeth Bumiller
  2. ^ Cooter's Place--Locations
  3. ^ Ben Jones speech at O'Reilly World of Wheels, Omaha, March 19, 2017 prior to a meet and greet session
  4. ^ Barone, Michael; and Ujifusa, Grant. The Almanac of American Politics 1988', p. 296. National Journal, 1987.
  5. ^ "Cooter Showing his Love of Dizzy Dean". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. 29 April 2004. p. D2. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  6. ^ Derschowitz, Jessica (24 June 2015). "Dukes of Hazzard actor Ben Jones defends Confederate flag". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  7. ^ Ramisetti, Kirthana (24 June 2015). "'Dukes of Hazzard' star Ben Jones defends Confederate flag, attributes backlash to 'political correctness'". Daily News. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  8. ^ McAfee, Tierney (24 June 2015). "Dukes of Hazzard Actor Defends Confederate Flag: It Represents 'Courage and Family and Good Times'". People. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  9. ^ Fisher, Luchina (1 July 2015). "TV Land Pulls 'Dukes of Hazzard' Reruns". ABC News. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  10. ^ CNN's Ashleigh Banfield Gets Into Shouting Match With Ex-Rep. Ben 'Cooter' Jones on YouTube
  11. ^ Ben Jones tells CNN why the Confederate flag should be on license plates on YouTube

External linksEdit