Cooter Davenport

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Cooter Davenport is a fictional character from the American TV show The Dukes of Hazzard. He was played by Ben Jones.

Cooter was the talented mechanic in the fictional Hazzard County, in Georgia. He owned The Hazzard County Garage in Hazzard County Square, directly across from the Police Department and the County Bank - which gave ideal position for observing Boss Hogg's latest crooked schemes and relaying back to the Dukes. his CB handle was "Crazy Cooter" and he often started his CB transmissions with "Breaker one, Breaker one, I might be crazy but I ain't dumb, Craaaazy Cooter comin' atcha, any y'all Dukes out there on the Hazzard net? Come on" (or similar variant on the last line). A flashback episode, which had the actors play their own family members post-Civil War, showed his ancestor wearing an eye patch and mentioning he'd fought at the Second Battle of Bull Run.

Of the several characters that evolved from the version seen in the very early episodes, Cooter's character evolved the most. In the first five episodes produced, in Covington, Georgia, he is seen to be a rebellious wildman, often treading on the edge of, or totally breaking the law (the first episode, "One Armed Bandits", for example, begins with a chase in which Cooter has stolen the Sheriff's Police patrol car). Unusually, in the third episode broadcast, "Mary Kaye's Baby" (the fourth to be produced in the series), he is said to have taken money to run moonshine for Boss Hogg, whereas the later versions of Cooter usually despised Hogg's crooked schemes and often teamed up with the Duke family to put such operations out of business. In these very early episodes, although shown to have some mechanical knowledge (witnessed in "Daisy's Song" and "Mary Kaye's Baby"), other appearances suggest him to work at a junk yard (though this could quite easily be an addition or related to his garage business at that point). As the series moved filming location to California, the character's owning the Hazzard Garage was confirmed, and the character was slowly toned down over the first season, although he did commit several other "wildman" acts, such as smashing a 'borrowed' motorcycle into the Boar's Nest, after possibly breaking into Boss Hogg's home to acquire a trophy for an upcoming race ("Luke's Love Story"), and, most notably, helping himself to taking the President's Limo for a joyride ("Limo-One Is Missing").

By the end of the first season, the character was already toned down, and over the course of the second, Cooter was sometimes seen to be almost a bohemian hippie, sometimes seen barefooted and occasionally heard to yodel. By the time of the third season, the character had settled down into becoming much more of a laid-back good ol' boy, who was seen to be very honest and reliable, somewhat of a far cry from the version of the character witnessed in very early episodes. Much of this evolution was at the insistence of Ben Jones, and during the second season (1979–1980), Ben Jones boycotted the show due to a dispute with the producers: they wanted the character to be unshaven, representing a typical Southern wildman image, whereas Jones had grown a full beard. As a result, Jones boycotted the show for several episodes after clashing with producers over the matter; His credit shot was removed from the opening credits, and it was vaguely explained in the series that Cooter was out of town. Taking his place at the garage during his absence were his cousins, B.B. Davenport (in only one appearance, in the episode "Grannie Annie", played by Mickey Jones), and L.B. Davenport (played by Ernie W. Brown, in the episodes "Follow That Still", "Duke of Duke" and "The Runaway"); these relations of Cooter - which were very much clones of the original character - were never again mentioned outside of these brief appearances. Eventually, an agreement was reached - Jones would appear clean-shaven, and the character returned to the show with the episode "Treasure of Hazzard", (1980). For continuity reasons, with the episodes being broadcast in a different order to that which they were produced, Cooter did not appear clean-shaven until the start of the third season, although in the first episode filmed for the season, "Baa, Baa White Sheep" (broadcast slightly into the third season), Cooter sports a full, thick beard, Jones not having yet shaved it off. With this change of look came the more relaxed version of the character. The sixth season episode "Cooters Girl" saw his estranged daughter visit Hazzard in an attempt to reconnect with her father, only to be disappointed when she finds-through circumstances not his fault-that he apparently hasn't give up his wild ways. He ends up needing help from the Dukes to show her he's a changed man.

Cooter was usually seen in sleeveless shirt (sometimes with a t-shirt underneath, or occasionally just a t-shirt on its own), filthy blue jeans, and a well-worn ball cap, which belied his incredible ability to wring out every single ounce of performance from an automobile. In the first two seasons and occasionally afterwards, he sometimes wore a denim jacket. He maintained a steady business, mainly because the Duke boys were constantly damaging their car, The General Lee and ultimately eventuating the wreckage of the county patrol cars as well (as Cooter once pointed out, following the Dukes around is guaranteed to increase his business); various strangers that passed through town also kept Cooter in business as they inevitably encountered car trouble. Everything from a new door or bumper to a simple wash and wax cost $35.42. Cooter drove a variety of trucks. In the first season, he drove a brown 1969 Chevy C-10 tow truck; in the second season he drove a blue and white 1967 Ford F-350 Custom tow truck, and he also had a blue 1968 Chevy pickup; in the third season and first half of the fourth season, he drove a yellow 1978-79 Ford F-350 Custom tow truck; in the second half of the fourth season and rest of the series, he drove a blue and white 1968-72 GMC C-Series tow truck.

Cooter was often referred to as an "honorary Duke", as he was the best friend of the family and he regularly assisted them in foiling Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane's latest scam. During the episode, "Happy Birthday General Lee", it is explained that Cooter actually helped in restoring The General Lee from a wrecked black 1969 Dodge Charger. He was also the supplier of its unique orange paint (it was all that he had, in a quantity sufficient enough to paint a car with). It is also suggested that it was he who supplied the famous "Dixie" horn. Though Cooter also owns a small farm (only ever seen in one second season episode), he spends most of his time at his garage, and many episodes suggest he also lives there. It has also been implied that Cooter often lives out of his truck. Though Cooter would not start a fight without good reason, he does enjoy a good fight (being quite a good fighter, himself, Cooter rarely loses a fair fight).

Although always remaining as part of the main billed cast, from the fifth season onwards, Cooter appeared on a more semi-regular basis, not being present in a number of episodes, partly due to actor Ben Jones beginning to pursue a political career.

In the 1997 television movie The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion!, it was revealed that Cooter had gone on to become a congressman, as Jones had done in real life.

Cooter in film[edit]

Bill Gribble portrayed Cooter in the 1975 film Moonrunners (the precursor to The Dukes of Hazzard), although beyond the name, there is little similarity. Ben Jones was also in Moonrunners, but he played the revenue agent after Uncle Jesse and the cousins.

David Koechner portrayed Cooter in the 2005 film The Dukes of Hazzard.

Joel Moore portrayed Cooter in the TV film The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning.

Legacy[edit]