SPEC 16 Magazine, April 1972
In the middle of the night — 1:30 a.m., December 31, to be precise — Pete Duel, by his own hand, ended his life. To the millions of fans and friends who not only regularly saw Pete in his exciting and happy-go-lucky portrayal of “Hannibal Heyes” in Alias Smith & Jones each Thursday night, but who had also followed his ever-growing career as an actor-starting way back in his ABC Love On A Rooftop days, the news of Pete’s death was a stunning blow. It seemed incredible, unbelievable that this talented and attractive young man could or would choose death to life — especially at the moment when all his dreams were becoming realized.
That Pete was impetuous, sometimes troubled, often openly dissatisfied with mediocrity in show business — and was very demanding of himself and his talent — were known factors in his personality. Those who were especially close to him, like his handsome brother, actor Geoff Deuel, (Deuel is the correct spelling of the family name, but Pete chose to shorten the spelling to Duel in recent years), his sister Pamela, his co-star Ben Murphy, and actress Dianne Ray (the girl with whom Pete most often spent his spare time), were all at a loss to reveal what the secret thoughts or problems might have been that conquered Pete’s determination on that darkest of all nights and finally drove him to make his heartbreaking and irrevocable choice of fate.
The fact of the matter is that each of us, along with the brightness and joy of life, carry some tragedy and darkness in our hearts and minds, and that whatever these unknown dark visitors were in Pete’s life, they became too much for him to bear.
Those who loved him, though heartbroken, must now remember the fine and meaningful gifts that Peter Ellstrom Deuel gave us all in his too brief lifetime. We shall always remember him for his quick, warm smile, his graceful, swift movements, his heart-melting laugh, his kindly, quick humor, his extraordinary performances in every role he ever played, his exciting and brilliant flashes of temperament, his unwillingness to compromise, his unremitting quest for excellence in his work and in his life, and — most of all — Pete’s sincere hope and desire to be good in all the things he did — and to do good unto all others.
“In the depth of your hopes and desires
lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.”
Kahlil Gibran The Prophet–On Death