A former military policeman, served in Germany after the end of WWII.
Before she took up acting, Lindsay Wagner babysat for Best's children. It was Best who encouraged Wagner to take acting lessons and, in effect, kick-started her career.
Brother-in-law of John Collier.
Director Quentin Tarantino has said that the work of Best "taught me how to act". Ironically, when Tarantino appeared in a 1990s Broadway revival of the play "Wait Until Dark", he received some of his worst acting reviews ever.
Father of Janeen Damian.
Father-in-law of Michael Damian.
Has a black belt in karate.
He and his wife Dorothy Best, along with Kevin Lang, have formed their own Production Company. Called "Best Friend Films," the company specializes in high definition production, featuring the Panasonic Varicam, with a Pro 35 lens adapter, which enables them to use Panavision 35mm film lenses on a digital camera. They also feature an HD online edit suite, making them a "one stop shop in HD production for the Independent Producer.
He formed the first school to teach actors Motion Picture Technique in the 1970s. He taught in Hollywood for 25 years and worked with such prominent stars as Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, Gary Busey, Teri Garr, Lindsay Wagner, Farrah Fawcett, and Quentin Tarantino.
His billing for Three on a Couch (1966) read: "Introducing James Best", despite the fact that he had been in movies for 16 years and had appeared in over 30 films.
In a 1984 episode of "The Dukes of Hazzard" (1979), "The Dukes in Hollywood," Roscoe (Best) and Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke) are discussing who should play them in a fictional movie about Hazzard County. Roscoe picks Burt Reynolds. Reynolds was a former acting student of Best, and the two had been friends for many years. Reynolds later played Boss Hogg in the The Dukes of Hazzard (2005).
In the early 1970s he decided to take a semi-retirement, and became an artist-in-residence at the University of Mississippi. During his two years there, he taught Motion Picture technique and Drama; directed four plays, established the Mississippi Film Commission and was elected to the University's Hall of Fame.
Moved to Florida in 1987 and taught on campus at the University of Central Florida. He was also appointed to the Advisory Council for the Motion Picture, Television, and Recording Industry of Florida. In 1992 he was the recipient of Florida's "Crystal Reel Award" for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series, for an episode of "In the Heat of the Night" (1988) with Carroll O'Connor.
The sixth of seven children, his mother died when he was 3 and he was taken to an orphanage when his Kentucky-born coal-mining father, an alcoholic, could no longer keep the family together. He was adopted at age 5 by Armen and Essa Best of Indiana.
The son of a coal miner.