Nashville has a brand new tourist attraction – one that will definitely stir some warm memories of growing up in the 1970s and 1980s watching the iconic The Dukes of Hazzard series on CBS each Friday night. Daisy Country will be the destination for all things Catherine Bach…aka Daisy Duke, featuring her personal line of clothing, jewelry and a collection of vintage memorabilia. The store is a part of series co-star Ben Jones’ Cooter’s Place, a Dukes-themed retail store & museum in Nashville.
Sounds Like Nashville caught up with Bach just a few days after the grand opening of Daisy Country. She said it was a weekend to remember – one that reminded her of the bond of love and admiration that exists between the actors of the show and the viewers.
“It went so great. First of all, I’m so thankful for The Dukes of Hazzard in the sense that all the people who watch the show are so nice. I had such a great time meeting the people that came to the store, and what we had in common was the show. It was so fantastic. Everything really came together, and Alma (Jones, Ben’s wife) and I worked really hard on it. Somebody showed up from the squirrel sanctuary. This fellow had a squirrel that he dressed up like he could be on the show. He had rehabbed him, and the squirrel didn’t want to leave his side. He also had a dog that didn’t have any front legs that was dressed very much like Daisy Duke that was pulled around in a wagon with “01” on it. Of course, I’m an animal lover, so it was a great weekend. I think everyone had a great time.”
The series was an instant hit upon its’ premiere on January 26, 1979, and helped to make Friday nights “Must See TV” on CBS long before NC coined the phrase in the 1990s. Along the way, with its’ rural tie-in, the series carved out a huge place in the hearts of Country Music fans everywhere, with Hall of Famers The Oak Ridge Boys, Loretta Lynn, and Buck Owens being included among their list of guest stars. Of course, the series’ theme song from Waylon Jennings became a classic, and series stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat enjoyed success as recording artists in the 1980s, as well. Bach said the show simply had a little something for everyone.
“It’s a show that everybody can sit around the television and watch together. It wasn’t something that you would have to keep your children away from. I have people from 3 to 103 that come to see me, and I really appreciate that. People will tell me about how they’ve had these seminal moments that occurred while watching The Dukes Of Hazzard. Maybe they watched it with their grandpa, and now he’s a dad, and he’s got he’s little ones.”
Bach said the reaction that she has received from many of the female fans that watched the show might surprise some. “The girls will also tell me how much fun they had watching the show, and how it was great to see someone who was feminine but tough, and also held a job. It’s funny that at the time I was taken to task for the clothes I wore, but now they are saying that I was such a feminist. So, I guess I was, if holding a job and working is being a feminist.”
Then, there was the reaction from the male demographic. When asked how many male fans of the show have mentioned having a crush on Bach as a youngster, she smiles and says “Yeah, there’s a lot of those that tell me that. The younger they get, the cuter they are. I had an eight year old boy ask ‘Will you marry me?’ I said ‘Sure, honey, I’ll marry you.’ Then, I figure that later on he will figure out that it’s not going to work out with us, but it was a really sweet moment.”
Daisy Country will carry a wide variety of items, said the actress. “We’ve got everything from denim to t-shirts to dog collars and leashes. I have coffee cups, and a little smattering of everything. There’s purses, make up bags, and we’re just getting started.” Does that denim include the infamous “Daisy Dukes?” Yes, and Bach has even more of a personal connection to the shorts than you might think. “Of course, we’ve got the ‘Daisy Dukes,’ first and foremost. I’ve made them myself. It’s actually my pattern.”
Bach says that Daisy Country continues to be very much a work in progress. “I have a vision of the store becoming a place that people can come in and enjoy themselves. I want to have a karaoke station, a place for games like Chinese checkers, and all kinds of things,” she said. There also will be several vintage pieces of memorabilia from the show. What about that legendary poster, you ask? Yeah, there’s a few of those. But, what you don’t know is how different it might have looked had the show’s producers had their way.
“You know what’s interesting about that is that Warner Brothers didn’t want to go forward with a poster, so I paid for it myself. They wanted me to wear a swimsuit and look like Farrah Fawcett, with the hair and red nails. I told them I thought the reason people would buy the poster is that they wanted to see the character. Warner Brothers said no, so I paid for the one that people saw. That’s why I have a few left.”
In discussing the appeal of the show, Bach said the show’s cast – as clichéd as it might sound – was a family. She credits the three elder actors on the show – James Best, Sorrell Booke, and Denver Pyle, for leading the way.
“It was such an honor for us young whipper snappers to get to work with Jimmy, Sorrell, and Denver. Sorrel graduated from Yale, spoke eleven languages, and worked for the CIA during the war. Jimmy was a very famous acting teacher. When I found out he was on the show, I begged him to let me come to his acting class. He really helped Burt Reynolds come around as an actor, as well as Michelle Pfieffer and Quentin Tarantino. What the two of them created on film with that physical comedy and their timing was incredible. I loved to watch him work.”
Bach shared a special memory of one of her last meetings with Pyle – a legendary actor that enjoyed stints in such series as The Andy Griffith Show, Grizzly Addams, and Dallas. “He really was the patriarch. The year he died – 1997 – he came over for dinner with his wife. He gave me a beautiful Madonna with two angels. She was holding a baby with two angels, and he told me ‘Your second one is on its’ way.’ I found out right after he died that I was pregnant. That was so amazing.”
Daisy Country is located inside of Cooter’s Place at 2613 McGavock Pike in Nashville. For more information, visit CootersPlace.com.