About Tom Wopat
Born on Sept. 9, 1951 in Lodi, WI, Wopat grew up on a dairy farm with his six brothers and sisters. Blessed with an excellent voice, Wopat began singing in local musical productions at the age of 12, before graduating to lead roles in his high school productions. He studied music at the University of Wisconsin, but dropped out after two years to - of course - start his own rock band. After a year of living the impoverished hand-to-mouth existence of a struggling musician, Wopat seriously re-evaluated his future before deciding to move to New York to study acting. Though one might have questioned whether a struggling actor's employment prospects looked any better than a struggling musician's, for Wopat, it proved the right decision. Landing on his feet, Wopat made his New York stage debut in the short-lived 1978 stage revue, "A Bistro Car on the CNR." This swiftly led to Wopat's next role in the hit Cy Coleman musical "I Love My Wife," in which he made his Broadway debut.
But as every theater actor could attest, TV was where the money was and continues to be. In the late 1970's, Wopat auditioned alongside dozens of other actors for the lead role in a television pilot - a light-weight bucolic comedy called "The Dukes of Hazzard." While the show was dismissed as fluff by every agent in town, competition for the two lead roles was surprisingly fierce. In the end, however, Wopat won (narrowly beating out competitors Gerald McRaney and Dennis Quaid) for the coveted role of hunky, cool-headed country boy, Lucas "Luke" Duke. Paired with younger newcomer John Schneider as Luke's cousin, Bo Duke, "The Dukes of Hazzard" was an instant and inexplicable hit. A perpetual ratings winner years before blue and red state culture divided a nation, "Dukes" ran for six seasons on CBS and became a mainstay of 1980's television. While hardly the stuff of high-brow entertainment, "The Dukes of Hazzard" did make stars of both Wopat and Schneider - as well as their curvy cousin, Daisy Duke, played by instant pin-up, Catherine Bach. In addition, the series also spawned two made-for-TV sequels: "The Dukes of Hazzard Reunion" (CBS, 1997) and "The Dukes of Hazzard in Hollywood" (CBS, 2000).
During the height of his "Dukes" fame, Wopat began a recording career. His first album, a self-titled 1983 country album sold reasonably well and spawned several more records. Post-"Dukes," Wopat maintained a consistent, if more understated, presence in television. In the late 1980's, Wopat returned twice to series television - first, as a newly remarried divorcee in the short-lived family drama, "Blue Skies" (CBS, 1988); and later, as a traveling vet in the shorter-lived drama, "A Peaceable Kingdom" (CBS, 1989). In the mid-1990's, Wopat landed his most successful post-"Dukes" television gig to date - a recurring role as Jeff Robbins, one of Cybill Shepherd's fictional ex-husbands in the eponymous sitcom, "Cybill" (CBS, 1995-98).
At the end of the day, however, Wopat would find his greatest artistic success, not on television, but the Broadway stage. In 1999, Wopat made a triumphant return to the Great White Way opposite Bernadette Peters in a revival of Irving Berlin's "Annie Get Your Gun." Widely praised by critics as the best work of his career, Wopat earned a Tony nomination that year for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.
Having moved comfortably beyond his former Luke Duke identity, Wopat continued to expand his repertoire into the new millennium. While never approaching the level of fame he achieved during his "Hazzard" days, Wopat seemed nevertheless poised for career longevity. In 2000, Wopat released his seventh album, The Still of the Night, a compilation of classic crooner ballads. 2005 proved to be an especially good year for the actor. In addition to winning a major role in the Broadway revival of David Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross" (opposite Liev Schrieber, Alan Alda, Jeffrey Tambor and Golden Clapp), later that year, Wopat guested on an episode of "Smallville" (CW, 2001- ), reuniting with former co-star John Schneider. In the fifth season episode "Exposed," Wopat played Senator Jack Jennings; an old friend of Jonathan Kent's (played by Schneider). In an obvious nod to "Hazzard" fans, Wopat's and Schneider's characters found themselves in a pulse-pounding car chase scene, driving recklessly down country dirt roads - and across the country, a generation of TV watchers screamed "YEEEE-Haw!" in unison. 2005 also saw the release of "The Dukes of Hazzard" movie, a star-studded feature remake of the beloved TV show. This time out, however, Wopat's role of Luke Duke was filled by Johnny Knoxville.
In contrast, the following year proved soberingly unpleasant for Wopat. On March 22, 2006, Wopat was charged with DUI and reckless driving in northern New Jersey, following a near collision with a police cruiser.
|Vickie Allen. Married in 1984; divorced|
|University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison , Wisconsin|
|Cast in a supporting role opposite Colin Firth and Orlando Bloom in the small-town drama "Main Street" (lensed 2010)|
|Cast in supporting role opposite Josh Brolin and John Malkovich in "Jonah Hex"|
|Played the father in the Broadway musical "A Catered Affair"; earned a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical|
|Acted in "Bonneville" with Joan Allen, Kathy Bates and Jessica Lange|
|Appeared in the Broadway revival of David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Glengarry Glen Ross" as the browbeaten customer James Lingk|
|Made NYC cabaret appearance at Arci's Place|
|Briefly joined the cast of the ABC daytime serial "All My Children"|
|Again played Luke Duke in "The Dukes of Hazzard - Hazzards in Hollywood" (CBS)|
|Returned to the stage to star opposite Bernadette Peters in a revival of Irving Berlin's "Annie Get Your Gun"; earned Tony nomination; later toured with show; returned to the Broadway production in June 2001|
|Reprised role of Luke Duke in the TV-movie "The Dukes of Hazzard Reunion" (CBS)|
|Was a regular on the CBS sitcom "Cybill"; played one of the star's ex-husbands|
|Pursued an active country singing career, touring with his Full Moon band and making solo appearances with symphony orchestras in Cincinnati and Toronto|
|Returned to Broadway after 13 years to star in "City of Angels"|
|Was a regular on the short-lived CBS series "Peaceable Kingdom"|
|Starred in short-lived dramatic TV series "Blue Skies" (CBS)|
|Recorded single "A Little Bit Closer" which yielded a top-five country video|
|Reunited with "Hazzard's" co-star John Schneider for TV-movie "Christmas Comes to Willow Creek"|
|Had lead role in "Carousel" in a stage production at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC|
|Made TV-movie debut in "Burning Rage"|
|Reprised role of Luke Duke (voice only) for animated series "The Dukes"|
|Landed starring role as Luke Duke on long-running CBS comedy series "The Dukes of Hazzard"|
|Made Broadway debut in "I Love My Wife"|
|Played lead in the Washington, DC production of the stage musical "The Robber Bridegroom"|
|Off-Broadway debut in revue "A Bistro Car on the CNR"|
|Moved to New York|
|Spent two summers at Barn Theater in Michigan|
|Dropped out of college to tour with rock group as lead singer and guitarist|
|Started singing leads in local musicals when he was age 12|
|Born and raised on dairy farm in Lodi, Wisconsin|