Sonny Shroyer was born in Valdosta, Georgia, a small city on the Georgia-Florida border. Shroyer, whose given name is Otis Burt Shroyer Jr., grew up steeped in the traditions of the deep South. He worked in the tobacco warehouses pushing tobacco buggies and helped his father in their fruit stand-ice cream parlor business. His prowess in high school football landed him a football scholarship at Florida State University (he later ended up playing football in the movie The Longest Yard (1974) with another FSU football player, Burt Reynolds). However, his football career was cut short by an injury, and Shroyer finished his education at the University of Georgia, where he earned his degree in business.
In 1961 he posed in football gear for a photographer who was shooting pictures for the back cover of the program for the Georgia-Georgia Tech football game. That picture launched his professional career. After many more print ads and commercials, Sonny landed his first movie roles in Sixteen (1973) with Mercedes McCambridge and Payday (1973) with Rip Torn. His movie career blossomed with many more films, including Gator (1976), The Lincoln Conspiracy (1977), The Million Dollar Dixie Deliverance (1978), Smokey and the Bandit (1977), They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way (1978) and a TV miniseries, Freedom Road (1979). While working on “Freedom Road,” Shroyer, who had gained quite a reputation for playing a “bad guy”, was cast in the role of “Enos,” the big-grinned, bumbling, dipstick deputy of The Dukes of Hazzard (1979) television series. His popularity on the show prompted Warner Brothers and CBS to spin him off into his own series, Enos (1980). “Enos” ran 17 episodes and was nominated for two “Peoples Choice” awards, and for Shroyer as “Favorite Male Performer in a New Television Program.”
Shroyer remains active in a variety of television network appearances and feature films. Appearances of note have been in the Emmy-winning NBC hit television series I’ll Fly Away (1991), where he played bigoted, abusive father Bobby Slocum, and as a possessed ex-deputy sheriff in the television series American Gothic (1995). He has played a smooth-talking ladies man in a Love Boat: The Next Wave (1998) episode and a murderer-rapist in Today’s F.B.I. (1981). Additionally, his credits include television appearances as a disturbed parent on In the Heat of the Night (1988). He also played University of Alabama head coach Bear Bryant Paramount’s smash hit Forrest Gump (1994) with Tom Hanks.
Sonny makes numerous benefit appearances, helping out with projects such as the Los Angeles Special Olympics, Muscular Dystrophy, The Cystic Fibrosis Telethon, and the American Cancer Society. He also assisted the “Get High On Life, Not Drugs,” sponsored by the Boston Police Department, and recently made a film called “Methamphetamine: Terrorist Attack in South Georgia” produced by friend Bob Brabham. He recently completed a movie called A Tale About Bootlegging (2005), an independent comedy for the whole family. He plays a small town sheriff in the mountains of North Carolina.
When free from public appearances and film or television commitments, he returns to his hometown of Valdosta, where he lives with his wife, Paula.
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