TV classic The Dukes of Hazzard is best remembered for two things: the legendary ‘General Lee’ Dodge Charger car driven by the good ol’ Duke boys, the gorgeous Daisy Duke, cousin of the boys, portrayed by actress Catherine Bach. The role made Bach a superstar, and one of the biggest sex symbols of the era whose influence can still be felt now: to this day, cut-down denim shorts are referred to as Daisy Dukes.
Bach will always be fondly remembered for her starring role on the hit TV series, which ran from 1979 to 1985 – but what else did the actress get up to in her career, and what’s she up to now? Read on to find out.
Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke) Then and Now
Catherine Bach was born in Warren, Ohio on March 1, 1954, as Catherine Bachman. She spent much of her childhood in a country setting worthy of the character that would make her famous, living on a ranch in South Dakota. After studying at UCLA (where she also made clothes for theatre groups to supplement her income), she changed her name from Bachman to Bach and made her debut as an actress in the 1973 Burt Lancaster movie The Midnight Man, in which she played the murdered co-ed Natalie.
The Midnight Man was followed soon after by a role in the 1974 crime caper film Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, in which Bach appeared alongside Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges as Melody. She followed this with 1975’s Hustle, as Peggy Summers, in which she had a small role alongside film legends Burt Reynolds and Catherine Deneuve.
You might not have known that at the same time, Bach was also pursuing work as a writer. She once revealed that she had written a number of plays and “had a writing contract at ABC,” but chose to put this to one side when her then-husband David Shaw (the stepson of Angela Lansbury, whom Bach married in 1976) about an acting opportunity on a new TV show called The Dukes of Hazzard.
When Bach arrived at the audition, however, she found that the producers were looking for an actress who looked like Dolly Parton. Despite this potential stumbling block, the Hazzard producers recognised her star power; she was offered the part there and then.
You probably remember Daisy Duke’s distinctive outfit, but what you might not know is that the look was actually Bach’s idea. The Dukes of Hazzard producers wanted Bach to wear a turtleneck with boots and a skirt for the role, but Bach didn’t think it would work, so she instead asked if she could bring along her own outfit.
The producers eventually agreed, and she started the show kitted out in her distinctive plaid shirt, cut-off denim shorts and high heels. With Bach having chosen her character’s wardrobe herself, an iconic look was born. Bach was later asked to pose as Daisy Duke for the now legendary poster, which went on to sell a whopping five million copies.
During her time on The Dukes of Hazzard, Bach’s legs became so integral to the show’s popularity that they were insured for a cool $1 million. She would reprise her role for the 1983 cartoon series The Dukes.
Towards the end of her run as Daisy Duke, Bach landed the key role as Marcie, one of the ‘Lamborghini Babes’ in 1984 blockbuster sequel Cannonball Run II. Unfortunately this film proved a much smaller hit than its predecessor, and major job offers for Bach did not ensue.
After Dukes of Hazzard: The Young and the Restless
After The Dukes of Hazzard eventually ended in 1985, Bach’s acting credits were comparatively few outside of a few B-grade movies and a run on TV series African Skies (1992-1994), alongside film legend Robert Mitchum. After this, most of her credits were in The Dukes of Hazzard TV movies, 1997’s The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! and 2000’s The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood.
Bach also voiced Daisy Duke in 2004 video game The Dukes of Hazzard: Return of the General Lee. However, she turned down an offer to appear in the 2005 film remake of The Dukes of Hazzard, where singer/reality TV star Jessica Simpson would take over her role as Daisy Duke.
Reportedly Bach and her former co-stars on The Dukes of Hazzard (including Tom Wopat, John Schneider, Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer) had all been offered cameos in the 2005. However, they all declined as they were unhappy with the script, which was a raunchy, R-rated spoof which the original stars felt betrayed the spirit of the TV series.
Having split with first husband David Shaw in 1981, 1990 saw Bach tie the knot with her second husband, entertainment lawyer Peter Lopez. The couple had two daughters, Sophia and Laura Lopez. Unfortunately, this marriage came to a tragic end in 2010, when Lopez died by gunshot wound in what was ruled a suicide. She has not remarried.
After this trying personal time, Bach got a career boost in 2012 when she joined the CBS soap opera The Young And The Restless as Anita Lawson. She wound up being part of the popular, long-running drama until 2019, appearing in a total of 62 episodes. Since her run on the soap ended, Bach has not taken any more acting roles to date.
Whether she returns to screens or not, Bach will forever be synonymous with the role of Daisy Duke, and the actress seems to take pride in that fact. As the actress remarked in a 1997 interview, Daisy was, in her own way, a trailblazer for strong female characters in film and TV in the years since The Dukes of Hazzard: “Whatever she did, she could shoot better, drive better, do everything better than a guy. Whenever the guys were in trouble, she stepped in. She wasn’t acting tough, she just was.”