The name Denver Pyle may not readily ring a bell for the present generation but for those who grew up in the 60s and 80s, he was one of the greatest character actors of that period. Renowned for his portrayal of gruff, authority figures, Pyle appeared in over 200 movies and TV series combined. He also portrayed several unforgettable characters including that of the wise-cracking Uncle Jess on the sitcom, The Dukes of Hazzard. Denver may be long gone but his legacy remains evergreen. Discover more about the late actor here including details about his life, career, demise, as well as net worth.
The Life and Times of Denver Pyle
Denver Bell Pyle was born on the 11th of May 1920 in Bethune, a ranching town in Colorado. His father’s name was Ben while his mother’s name was Maude. The actor also had an older brother named Willis. Willis was an accomplished animator who worked on Disney classics such as Pinocchio, Bambi, and Fantasia.
Pyle grew up in Colorado and initially studied law at the state university. He, however, dropped out after a short period and spent the next few years working a variety of odd jobs. Following the breakout of WWII, the young man promptly enlisted in the Navy.
He spent several months in service before being medically discharged in 1942. On being discharged from service, Denver Pyle found employment in an airplane plant. He subsequently dabbled into acting and made his screen debut in the 1947 film, Devil Ship.
His Movies and TV Shows
Denver Pyle’s net worth greatly benefitted from his prolific acting career. Following his 1947 debut, the Bethune native went on to appear in numerous movies and TV series. On the small screens, Pyle featured in over 140 TV shows including Roy Rogers, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Gunsmoke, Code Three, Tammy, The Doris Day Show, Here Comes the Bride, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Dukes of Hazzard, etc. The Dukes of Hazzard is a CBS sitcom that ran from 1979 to 1985. The series primarily revolved around Bo and Luke, two southern country cousins who often crossed paths with the law thanks to their souped-up vehicle. In the series, Pyle played the role of Uncle Jess, the grizzled and cranky relative who often offered sage advice to the cousins.
Denver Pyles’ net worth also benefitted from his exploits on the big screens. The Bethune native featured in over 100 movies including The Alamo, The Man Who Shot Liberty Vance, Maverick, The Adventures of Frontier Fremont, Guardians of the Wilderness, Cheyenne Autumn, and Bonnie & Clyde. Bonnie & Clyde is an iconic movie that tells the legendary story of two lovers who embark on a robbery spree during the Great Depression. Both are relentlessly pursued by law enforcement, particularly a Texas Ranger named Frank Hamer. Bonnie and Clyde manage to evade their pursuers for quite some time but are eventually brought down in a hail of bullets. The film featured Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway while Pyle portrayed the role of Frank Hamer. The 1967 film is one of the most iconic in cinematic history.
The Death of Denver Pyle
Denver Pyle retired from full time acting in the 90s. He restricted his on-screen work to cameo appearances in a few productions. He also concentrated on the various charitable causes that were close to his heart. The Bethune native, however, continued to receive accolades for his accomplished career. He was later awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1997.
Situated in the motion pictures section, the star was unveiled on the 12th of December 1997. Pyle himself attended the ceremony despite his frail health. This marked his final public appearance as he died of lung cancer two weeks later, specifically on the 25th of December 1997. The actor was aged 79 years and was survived by his wife, Trippie Johnston, as well as his two sons from his first marriage, David and Tony. A memorial service was held for Pyle in Waxahachie, Texas, in January 1998. He was subsequently interred in that same town.
What Was His Net Worth?
Denver Pyle had a net worth of $5 million at the time of his demise. The lion share of his wealth went to his wife and sons while some went to charity. This did not come as a surprise as the actor was a notable philanthropist. In his lifetime, Pyle had utilized his Uncle Jess persona to raise funds for children charities as well as Special Olympics. For Instance, he held an annual Uncle Jess Fishing tournament which raised funds for a kids’ program in Lamar County, Texas. All these initiatives fetched him and his wife a special recognition from the Governor of Texas.