Daily Express, early January 1972
The television cowboy Pete Duel was dead under a Christmas tree when police found him. He had a single bullet wound in his head. The co-star of the light-hearted Western TV series Alias Smith and Jones was 31. Now police are trying to piece together the hours that led up to the actor’s death early on New Year’s Eve [Day]. They were called by Duel’s girlfriend, 29-year-old Dianne Ray, who said she went to his Hollywood home to see the latest episode of Alias Smith and Jones. She told them that after Duel had watched a televised basketball game, he took a gun out of a drawer, said, ‘See you later,’ and walked out of the room.
She heard a gunshot and found him on the floor. Pinned to the wall was a telegram informing him that he would not get the part he was after in a new television film. In the telegram was a bullet hole, apparently fired by Duel.
A policeman said, ‘It looked as if Duel had been drinking rather heavily and was remorseful.’ Although Alias Smith and Jones was a success, Duel had told friends his wish for the New Year was that it would be cancelled because he had to work too hard on it.
Before landing the co-starring role with Ben Murphy, Duel appeared in other series including Combat, The Fugitive, The Bold Ones, The Name of the Game and Gidget.
Police disclosed that Duel had been arrested three times in the last four years for drunken driving, the last time in October 1970 when he knocked down two people. In court in June 71, he told how he had fled the scene of the accident ‘with shame and terror filling my mind.’
[Editor’s Note: Pete shot the telegram a week prior to his death. Also: Pete didn’t ‘knock down’ two people; he caused a car accident that seriously injured two people.]