At the Hair Dare Dukes Days, Byron Cherry could be counted on for injecting a big laugh into virtually any moment, all weekend long, from the second his plane landed to when he was taken back to the airport on Monday! He stuck with the fans, not just on the Colasanti's grounds, but at the hotel, at the Applebee's on Sunday night, everywhere! This is just a great guy, and because of that, and because every time BRBTV travels to a show like this we like to bestow an honorary "Most Congenial in Show" award to a celebrity, that goll-darn Coy gets the award this time around.
So ... when you're a celebrity, how do you take a role on a wildly popular show, a role where you step into some very hard shoes to fill, where you were essentially cast as a "bad" guy, and make it a good thing? With grace, if you're Byron Cherry -- even years later. He speaks well of those days, and of John Schneider, the guy whose blond hair and fun-loving demeanor he "replaced" for a time on the show. Cherry tells BRBTV that he actually auditioned for the role of Bo Duke at the same time that Schneider did, right there in Atlanta. Cherry is from Atlanta originally, and his family still lives there. He says that at the time, he and Schneider had the same agent in Atlanta. Schneider joked to him, at the time, that he, not Cherry, was going to get the role of Bo! And indeed, he did, and Cherry took it in stride.
Do you remember that episode "Comrade Duke," where Coy and Vance meet the defecting Russian gymnast Natasha? Coy flips for the girl, literally and figuratively, performing an aerial flip during the episode. Cherry tells BRBTV that he was into gymnastics, among other sports, in his younger years. When the producers considered hiring a stunt guy to do the flip, to the tune of $1,200, Cherry stepped up and offered to do it. That flip took 28 takes, he says, and one of those takes was right on his head! (He wouldn't do the flip again at the Hair Dare event -- we asked! And take note: This guy is a very nice-looking age 52 -- his IMDb year of birth is wrong.)
While BRBTV was chatting with fellow fans at the Hair Dare Dukes Days, the topic of the Mean Green Machine came up. The tanklike vehicle only appeared in two "Dukes" episodes, during the Coy and Vance season. Whatever happened to that? one fan wonders. And what exactly was it, anyway? At a show like this, where everything from the General Lee to Daisy's Jeep Dixie to the "00" Mustang, the "Carnival of Thrills" car and everything else shows up, you sure don't see a Mean Green Machine pull into position on the lawn, now do ya? Well, BRBTV posed the question to Cherry, who laughs that the Mean Green Machine was essentially "some plywood over a chassis." It was a car engine with a steering wheel sticking up, he says, and just a plywood casing that was painted the green color. Where did this contraption ever disappear to? Cherry has no idea. Hmmm ....
(That Zealand -- he was just outta control! And it was our own Coy who penned that nickname, by the way!)
Here, Coy Duke, aka Byron Cherry, drives the one and only "Chick" General Lee in attendance, owned by Andrea of Kalamazoo, Michigan. You'll learn more about Andrea in the special chick version of our occasional "See My Lee!" feature on Thursday ...
Nowadays, Cherry lives on the West Coast, near Ventura, California, about an hour away from the home of his fellow Duke boy Mayer (who was scheduled for this show but couldn't make it). The two, bonded by a single "Dukes" season and "The Dukes" cartoon, still keep in touch.
It's been said, in the "Dukes" world, that Coy and Vance never really got their due. And we'd have to agree, especially after meeting the lively and extremely fun and kind Byron Cherry.
Photos by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV
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