On Friday nights in 1979, I was virtually glued to CBS on the TV – especially when The Dukes of Hazzard came on.
As a young boy, I loved ‘Daisy Duke’. Hell, I think every guy that grew up in the late ’70s had a crush on her. The curvaceous brunette was portrayed by the naturally beautiful Catherine Bach.
The former TV star is now 68 years old – try not to smile when you see the latest photos of her…
How many TV characters inspire a sense of fashion that lasts decades after the show is gone? Catherine Bach, best known by the public for her role as Daisy Duke, has written herself into pop culture history forever.
The beautiful actress, with legs worth insuring, rose to fame in the late 1970s and ’80s. The Cleveland, Ohio native became iconic for her daring outfits – she was one of the first girls to wear short shorts on TV.
But those who believe that Catherine was only a simple actress – and mostly eye candy – couldn’t be more wrong.
Catherine had the integrity, knowledge, and courage to shape the character that laid the entire foundation for her successful career.
For example, producers on Dukes of Hazzard wanted her to wear a tight white turtleneck, go-go boots, and a poodle skirt for her role. But Catherine insisted on creating her own outfit instead. She handmade many of the costumes she wore as Daisy Duke, and the rest is history.
Cut-off denim shorts are still referred to as “Daisy Dukes,” and I think there are girls still wearing the iconic hotpants today – referring to them by name without knowing anything about the TV show. That’s pretty remarkable.
A Dolly Parton-lookalike
Catherine Bach was born in Warren, Ohio in 1954. Her upbringing was a split one. After her parents divorced, she spent most of her childhood with her father at their ranch in South Dakota. In the summers, she visited her mother in California.
While spending her holidays in The Golden State, Catherine went to drama school and fell in love with the stage. Two days after graduating high school, she boarded a plane, determined to make it to Hollywood.
She got a list of all the agents in Tinseltown and went to see every one of them until she found one that would accept her as a client.
The aspiring actress set her sights on a movie career and landed some minor roles before hearing about an audition for a show named The Dukes of Hazzard. It was her then-husband, David Shaw (stepson of Angela Lansbury), who tipped her off.
“My husband was a contractor… and he liked to hire a lot of out-of-work writers, struggling actors, and producers. So he hired this fellow to paint the house and he was writing this show about an old moonshiner called ’The Dukes of Hazzard’”, Catherine told Beaver Country Times in 1981.
According to Catherine, the producers were looking for a Dolly Parton look-a-like to play the role of Daisy. They wanted a girl with lots of blonde hair, big boobs, and an hourglass figure. Nevertheless, Catherine went in for the audition and nailed it. CBS hired her that same night.
The Dukes of Hazzard became an instant hit and was a top-rated television series in the late 1970s, ranking second only to Dallas at one point. Even though critics hated it, the average American loved it. The show had all the ingredients – car chases, corny jokes, and a very good-looking leading lady.
As the naturally beautiful Daisy Duke, Catherine became one of the most famous faces on television. Her character was loved by many, and Daisy was the reason a lot of us watched the show.
“The character is a conglomeration of many people I know. She is half the wildest girl I ever knew in high school. She is part of a couple of girls I was really close to in Georgia. She’s a lot of Dolly Parton and she’s a lot of me when I was a waitress. She is independent. She is physical. And she can do anything the guys can do,” Catherine explained in 1979.
In the late 1970s, Catherine symbolized real beauty – she had no implants, no lip injections, no Botox, and no fake teeth.
Within the context of the TV series, she did an excellent job of playing a slightly naive southern bell with upstanding morals and character, plus she was always very easy on the eyes.
She wasn’t tatted up, had no weird piercings, and no green hair – she was just an honest, down-to-earth good looking woman.
Her legs, however, were worth a lot of money. Famously insured for $1,000,000, it just added another ingredient to her stardom.
Husband’s tragic passing
When The Dukes of Hazzard ended in 1985, Catherine had a hard time maintaining the same level of success. She appeared in some low-profile movies, and her career stalled.
But after starring as Margo Dutton in the popular Canadian family drama series African Skies, people once again noticed how talented she was. Some might also recognize Catherine from her recurring role as Anita Lawson in the soap opera The Young and the Restless.
Sadly, things went downhill after her husband passed away in 2010. Catherine married entertainment lawyer Peter Lopez in August 1990, and they were together until his tragic death.
“He was the love of my life,” the actress told People.
Her husband ultimately took his own life – something that left Catherine with more questions than answers. Her husband wasn’t an addict, he rarely drank and they were financially stable.
So why did he do it?
“A lot of people in the music business have stress, but Peter was always calm and collected,” she told People.
“The further I get away from it, the more I believe he did this to protect us. Something must have happened to him that he couldn’t get past.”
Faced with that significant loss and unbearable grief, Catherine focused on her family. She put her career on pause and tried to be there for her daughters, Laura Esmerelda and Sophia Isabella. They were very young at the time, only 11 and 14.
Catherine didn’t have the luxury of falling apart at the time – she did everything to keep their family intact as her house ”was overrun with reporters and the coroner’s office and all sorts of people.”
”I realize that these girls are my legacy, they are Peter’s legacy. They are a testament to our love and what we thought of family, and there’s no way that I could ever slack off on that and just think about myself, ” she told Huffington Post.
In the end, the actress found strength in her faith.
“I prayed a lot. I went to church a lot. I’m Catholic. I stayed very close to my priest who I really trust… It’s what kept me alive.”
Catherine Bach today
In 2023, it has been almost 40 years since The Dukes of Hazzard ended, and Catherine looks, of course, very different from that young woman all those years back. But one thing that hasn’t changed is her magnificent smile! Catherine has aged gracefully and is still a very pretty woman.
While starring as Daisy Duke, she kept in shape by “dancing three hours a day, hiking and swimming.” Her athleticism helped her in the role and to fit into those incredibly tiny shorts.
”Keeping them zipped [was the hardest thing about wearing the shorts],” she once shared.
But things are a bit different today. She’s had some weight fluctuations, as many of us do as we get older.
“I’ve put on a little weight, but so what?,” she told People.
In 2022, the actress was seen in public for the first time in a while out for some retail therapy in Los Angeles. The bombshell of the 1970s had swapped out her tiny shorts and sported large sunglasses, black sneakers, and a cross-body phone case.
Many of her fans noted that the years have passed and could barely recognize the former star – but I guess that’s pretty normal.
People might age but their character and personality can become even better than before. Catherine has always been and still is a sweetheart.
Legends all age with time, but every now and then a shining star like Catherine comes along. She will always be the true ‘Daisy Duke’ and is ageless in our eyes. Much love Catherine and God Bless you.