“I Was Shocked at What ABC-TV Did After Pete Duel’s Death”
by Iain Calder; National Enquirer, April 26, 1972
TV star Ben Murphy says he was shocked at how quickly ABC replaced Pete Duel as his co-star on Alias Smith & Jones after Duel’s suicide. “Pete’s body was hardly cold when they had an identical costume fitted out for Roger Davis,” said the 30-year old Murphy. “I don’t know how to explain how shocked I was at that kind of action.”
“I kept asking myself, ‘How could they do it?’ But they could and they did. It was just standard TV practice and I had to accept it.
“I have no complaints about Roger. He’s a real nice guy. But the way the studio rubbed out any memory of Pete so fast really upset me. It’s taught me the greatest lesson I’ll ever learn about Hollywood.”
Murphy said he thought the pressures of filming the hit comedy Western contributed to Duel’s suicide. Duel was found dead in his apartment last New Year’s Eve just a few hours after leaving the studio.
“Pete was upset about the punishing routine of grinding out a new episode every few days,” said Murphy. “It’s a killing twelve-hour day and I believe it helped to kill Pete. He couldn’t cope with the pressures that fame and a big series brought into his life. He worried too much, and he drank too much through all that worry. Then he died so tragically. He was too young for that.
“I believe he ended his life because of the feeling that maybe he was just another hired hand in Hollywood,” said Murphy.