Before there were any versions, or even visions, of Law and Order – there was In the Heat of the Night. Starring Carroll O’Connor as the police chief, and Howard Rollins as police detective Virgil Tibbs, plus who could forget Bubba? Did you know the theme music was composed by the great Quincy Jones? This critically acclaimed show was loosely spun off of the 1967 film and 1965 novel. Every week we got to go back to our favorite small-town police department, and they tackled crime, but also tough issues like racism and domestic violence. Certainly why this show was on the air so long, from 1988 to 1995 to be exact.

You are watching: Bubba from in the heat of the night


Today we’re checking back into the rough and tough city of Sparta, Mississippi. Not a real city, by the way – the production took place in Covington, Georgia so it did move a little slower than LA. Covington was already famous for filming the first 5 episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard. The Covington Public Library was transformed into the Sparta Police Department and that’s where it all happened… Now let’s get to it.


1. Carroll O’Connor (William Gillespie)

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IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, Alan Autry, 1988 – 1994. (c)MGM Television/ Courtesy: Everett Collection

But after he was cut from the team by legendary Football player, and then Coach Bart Starr – Autry packed up his things and moved to Hazzard County – well technically Hollywood but his first semi-regular appearance was The Dukes of Hazzard in 1981. Then it was time for Bubba. The season 7 episode “Every Man’s Family” was meant to be a pilot for a proposed spinoff for Bubba Skinner. But it didn’t materialize. Afterward, he immediately grabbed a recurring role on Grace Under Fire as Rick Bradshaw. In 1999. he got another series regular gig in Sons of Thunder, the spin-off of the cult classic Walker Texas Ranger. Find out more about Chuck and company in our Texas Ranger Throwback!

We last saw him in the 2017 MMA action flick, Victory by Submission. Autry is also a born-again Christian, devoting much of his time to charitable causes. In 2000, entered the world of politics and served two 4 year terms as mayor of Fresno until 2009. Today he’s in his late 60s and is also the CEO of the Autry Entertainment Group.

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This show was fantastic, and the characters were well-fleshed out – with quite possibly the greatest police chief in television history. So tell us, Who was your favorite character from the show? Did you enjoy the 1967 film version better? What about the novel, any fans of that John Ball book? Tell us in the comments below, and let’s remember an excellent show together.