‘Success Did Not Spoil Pete Duel’
by Charles Parker (Herald-Examiner Staff Writer); Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, early January 1972
Pete Duel’s friends always had a problem thinking of him as a television star.
It’s inconceivable to them to think he might have taken his own life. Pete Duel — or Peter Deuel, as he was known when he came to Hollywood from New York about eight years ago — wasn’t the type to take himself or his problems seriously, they said.
He was serious about his work. An off-Broadway actor before he came West, he thought of the theatre as the proper milieu for a dedicated performer, and had dreams of one day returning to New York in triumph in a Broadway play. Meanwhile, in Hollywood, he nearly starved to death trying to find work.
Good-looking, barrel-chested and with a go-to-hell attitude, the rare time that the broad grin slipped from Pete’s face was when he was cussing the “blanky-blank” Hollywood producers who would not deign to let him in their offices. As the saying goes, he “couldn’t get arrested” in Hollywood.
Then he hit and hit big as the co-star with Judy Carne in ABC-TV’s Love on a Rooftop. It wasn’t anything like Broadway, but it bought him some new blue jeans.
One night at dinner he told me his formula for success.
“Most actors have guilt feelings,” Pete said, “because they don’t think they’ve really worked to earn success. So I started getting up in the morning, instead of lying in bed feeling sorry for myself, and made a point to telephone at least one producer or director every morning. I don’t know if the calls did any good, but they made me feel I worked for whatever jobs I got.”
As Pete moved up in Hollywood, he appeared to change very little. He let his close-cropped hair grow long. He switched from beer to good white wine — now that he could afford it. He still spent an occasional evening in his favorite night spot — Barney’s Beanery.
But, as he progressed, he became less enchanted with his work. Recently, he made the statement that he hoped the television pilot made by his younger brother, Geoffrey, wouldn’t be accepted by the network. Pete didn’t think Geoff would be any happier than he was.
After a long vacation from drinking hard stuff, Pete went back to it.
Who really knows where his thoughts took him?