Toward the end of the Seventies, actor Rick Hurst got cast as Boss Hogg’s second cousin Cletus on The Dukes of Hazzard, and to this day, that remains his most famous TV role.
But years before The Dukes came calling, Hurst started appearing in TV shows and movies after failing to make it in New York and deciding to try out Hollywood.
Unlike NYC, Hollywood embraced Hurst immediately, and you can see him on Seventies shows like The Bob Newhart Show, Gunsmoke and Happy Days in his early acting days before he became a star.
Rising quickly through the ranks, by 1975, Hurst landed his first starring TV role, proving the funny man had what it took to keep audiences laughing. But his sitcom On the Rocks, where he played a prison inmate with a playful rivalry with prison guards, was cancelled by 1976.
In interviews, Hurst never mentions the failure of On the Rocks as a disappointment in his career, but after he got through filming the next series he was offered and that show never aired, he couldn’t help but air some grievances about studios of his day.
In 1977, Hurst told the Tampa Bay Times that his new show Steubenville would likely never air, blaming the popularity of political shows like MAS*H for shifts in the types of shows studios were scheduling.
And Hurst was right. Steubenville never aired, so we’ll never know what we missed.
In 1977, United Press International reported that Steubenville was intended to be a family sitcom set in the Ohio town it takes its name from. Its first episodes were directed by John Rich, a well-known TV producer and director behind everything from The Dick Van Dyke Show to Twilight Zone and Gunsmoke.
On the show, Hurst played Cal Lukas, one of two brothers who grew up in Steubenville. Their dad was a hard-working, middle-class American who tried to instill in his knucklehead sons the same work ethic.
Hurst had hard feelings when the show never even got a chance to win over audiences, but he rebounded quickly, continuing to appear on TV, including twice on MAS*H. Then in 1979, he joined The Dukes of Hazzard and finally found the spotlight, becoming part of the fabric of pop history before retiring in 2016.
When Hurst was a young boy, he was just a small-town kid who became interested in acting by going to the movies with his best buddy.
Hurst told The Longview News-Journal that they always raised a ruckus in the theater, attempting to pull off stunts they’d just seen on the screen.
Whether he would’ve been funnier getting scolded by his dad in Steubenville remains a mystery, but his childhood certainly sounds like it prepared him for his ultimate fame of being one of the crazed guys chasing the Dukes all over town.