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Catherine Bach among stars to appear at Hagerstown Speedway's Dukes Family Fest

June 16, 2013|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE | crystal.schelle@herald-mail.com

It’s been more than 25 years since Catherine Bach had to don the jean cut-off short-shorts now famously called “Daisy Dukes.” 

Some would argue that next to Michael Jackson’s glittery glove, no other piece of clothing has earned its rightful place in pop culture history.

However, Bach, 59, admits she has no idea where the iconic shorts have gotten to.

“They’re somewhere in my house, I don’t know,” she said during a telephone interview while navigating Los Angeles traffic.

That means Bach won’t be bringing those “Daisy Dukes” when she takes part in the Dukes Family Festival Saturday, June 22, at Hagerstown Speedway. Instead, she’ll be swapping stories as she is joined by fellow cast members Ben Jones, who played Cooter; Rick Hurst, who played Cletus; James Best, who played Rosco; and Sonny Shroyer who played Enos.

The shorts, Bach said, were actually her idea. 

“I made the first pair of shorts sitting on my bed in high school,” she said.

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But writers had a different look and dress in mind for Daisy, Bach said. Gy Waldron, who wrote the 1975 movie “Moonrunners,” which the show was based on, had what Bach describes as an infatuation with Dolly Parton. 

Bach said Daisy was created basically to be a Parton lookalike, down to blonde hair. And because of that, Bach said, she steered away from trying out for the show.

“The rest of the characters in the show are based in reality —there was a real Boss Hogg, there were a real Bo and Luke Duke — but Daisy Duke was a creation of the creator,” she said. “And he had a particular person he was looking for.”

In the meantime, Bach said she had been on the sidelines of acting because she had been told she was “too exotic for television.” She is half Mexican. So Bach, who studied English literature and creative writing in college, wrote a one-act play that was well received. That play landed her a contract to do movies of the week with ABC. 

However, it was a lunch in Beverly Hills with the director of her play that led Bach’s life back to acting. She said she rarely visited Beverly Hills, and wanted her friend to go shopping with her. But when her friend passed, Bach said she didn’t want to shop alone. Her friend convinced her to go to the audition for “Dukes of Hazzard.”

It took some convincing, though, for Bach to go to the Warner Bros. lot. 

“She said, ‘Just go, you never know who you’re going to meet on the way in or the way out. So you don’t get the role? Who cares. It’s an opportunity,’” Bach recalled. “I thought that made a lot of sense. I said, ‘You’re right.’ And the rest is history.”

Bach said she met Waldron, who she calls “a dear friend to this day.”  It was Waldron who made the call that Bach would be Daisy. Bach said the day she went to audition there was a huge flu outbreak and all of the “big shots” were out the day she auditioned, leaving it on the shoulders of Waldron to choose his Daisy Duke.

“He said, ‘We’re going straight to the network in two days, so be ready,’” she said. “Two weeks later, I was sitting in Georgia.” “Dukes of Hazzard” filmed on location in Georgia.

Bach also met John Schneider, who was cast to play her cousin Bo Duke, that first day at auditions. She said she gave him a tour of Los Angeles.

The irony for Bach winning the role was that her agency had dropped her. She said she kept on calling them, but they didn’t return her calls. And she nearly lost the job because Bach said she had to have representation so she could sign her contract. She found a lawyer to help her out, but it was two years into the show before she would actually find an agent, she said.

As for those “Daisy Dukes,” Bach said the show had a specific look for Daisy in mind.

“They wanted me to wear a turtleneck sweater and a poodle skirt, and the poodle skirt was going to match the tablecloths,” she said. “And they wanted me to have a blonde wig with a scarf in it. I said, ‘Wait a minute, Dolly Parton, right?’”

The then-25-year-old was convinced that no one would wear a skirt that matched the tablecloths.

“But sure enough, they walked me across the street. All the ladies had skirts that matched the tablecloths,” she said with a laugh.

Bach, however, convinced them to let her create her own wardrobe. She had been sewing since she was 11 years old.  She had gone to design school because, she said, her mother wanted her “to have a little craft just in case my career didn’t work out.”

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