TV Star Parade, April 1967
This surprising turn of events could easily result from the newest twosome in Hollywood. For Sally Field, who was Gidget on television a while back, and Peter Deuel, who enacted the role of her brother-in-law in that now-defunct series, have discovered each other in a big way.
Which is all the more astonishing, considering they worked together for a whole season and nothing sparked. Well, nothing much.
“Oh, we went to one hockey game while we were working together on Gidget,” Peter Deuel told us nonchalantly, “but that was all.”
Then he grinned in amazement at himself and said, “Maybe I was thrown off by the whole sweet-girl bit of the show. Anyway, near the end of the series, I found myself attracted to Sally. But then the show broke up, and we each went our separate ways.”
Out of sight but obviously not out of mind for, several months after Gidget‘s demise, Peter Deuel took matters in hand and called Sally Field for a date. She accepted. Since which time, things have been moving forward at sufficient speed to start all the town’s gossips buzzing eagerly.
“Our first big date, I guess you’d call it,” Peter said, “was at the last WAIF ball. Sally was involved in it officially.”
“Anyway,” Peter went on, “I must confess that Sally was a very pleasant surprise to me on that first date. Very. Oh, boy, is she deep,” he enthused. “And quite frank with a man, which I didn’t expect. And which I found extremely pleasant.”
The gala event turned out to be the turning point in Peter’s and Sally’s relationship. They had so much fun, enjoyed each other so much, that it seemed like a good idea to see more of each other. And more. And more.
When they had time, that is. Both are extremely busy young actors these days. Peter especially, who this season plays the young husband in ABC’s Love on a Rooftop, a series that looks as if it’s going to make it.
Getting his current starring role was just about the easiest chore Peter ever had. Love on a Rooftop is being filmed by Screen Gems, the company that made Gidget. So, when the producers were deciding on a cast for Love on a Rooftop, they just looked across the lot and nodded at Peter. He’d impressed them mightily in his recurring Gidget role.
But before that, it hadn’t been so easy. Son of a doctor in a small community near Rochester, N.Y., Peter for a time was torn between his desire to act and his family’s traditional medical background. But acting won, and after two years at St. Lawrence College, he quit to enroll at the American Theatre Wing in New York City.
“I did one starving stint that nearly finished me,” Peter recalls grimly. “I mean starving. My roommate, a fine young artist, and I would go to the refrigerator in our bare apartment — we couldn’t afford furniture — and eat a spoonful of jelly or mayonnaise or something, grin at each other, and go out to make the rounds.”
Fortunately, just before Peter folded from malnutrition, he got a part in Wounded in Action, a picture made in the Philippines. That led to a role in the national road company of the play, Take Her, She’s Mine, and that, in turn, to his moving to Hollywood and the Gidget break.
“I never met Sally before we started filming Gidget,” Peter said. “She hadn’t been in the business until then, you know. All I really knew was that she was a sweet little thing.
“And that she is,” he hastily added, “but Sally is much more than that, too. She’s a very hip girl. Although she has that same wide open, sparkling cuteness that Gidget had, she’s much, much more. Very intelligent, and has a very liberal, open-minded philosophy. She’s no kid. After all, the role she was playing was that of a fifteen-year-old girl. Sally is twenty, and that’s about the biggest five-year age gap you’re ever going to find.
“Besides,” Peter went on, with an amused glint in his eyes, “the way Gidget had to be written for television didn’t portray exactly all the things we know little girls of fifteen do. It all had to be very light, mostly quite superficial. Which meant it only portrayed a very small facet of Sally’s personality. But she played it honestly, so it came across great. And, obviously, she’s, certainly not sorry she was Gidget.”
Then, leaning forward eagerly, Peter said with great enthusiasm, “Sally is the most unaffected girl I’ve ever met. So very honest, as I said. And her eyes just aren’t ‘sparkling’ when she’s with a man. They’re on the man. Some girls hide a deep fear of men and a general feeling of inferiority with a facade of cuteness. But not Sally. She sparkles, but it’s real. She really is very down to earth and with it every minute.
“And,” he smiled, “she looks at a guy, not through him or around him.”
Then, with a chuckle, Peter admitted wryly, “You know what impressed me about Sally? She made me a cheese sandwich at three o’clock in the morning. Silly? Not a bit. It was the way she offered to do it. I was hungry after a date, and when I took her home I muttered something about it. Even offered to fix it myself.
“It was the way she said, ‘No, I’ll do it,’ as if it were really something she wanted to do,’ Peter added fondly. “And there was no nonsense about it. She didn’t feel it was expected of her. She felt it was something she expected of herself. Just very happy about it.
“Sally is interested in everything, too,” he went on. “She’s interested in sports and music, and she’s not shallow in her interests. Take music, for instance. She loves all kinds, from rock and roll right up through opera, as long as it’s good. That says something to me. That she really loves music in her heart. That it’s not just something she’s studied and thinks she should like. Or has a technical knowledge of, but no deep appreciation for. Nope; she likes it, as long as it’s done well.
“Sally has a scatter-brained side — who doesn’t? It’s part of the fun. But I’ve found her also to be very level-headed. Much more so than people who know her only casually would think.”
A smile of pure affection played over Peter’s handsome face as he enthused about Sally Field. There was no escaping the fact that he found this girl to be something very special.
Both Peter and Sally repeatedly have said that they do not anticipate marrying at all in the near future. Both have affirmed repeatedly that for the next few years they intend to concentrate on their blossoming careers. And that they don’t feel, therefore, they would be able to give to marriage what that condition demands, if it is to be successful.
But young minds have changed before. And even the sternest ambition has given way before the delightful prospects of a life spent with one special person. The person above all others whom you love.
It could very well happen to Peter and Sally. For Peter is a personable, up-and-coming star.
And Sally, in Peter’s own words, “is no kid. She’s very much a real woman.”
Which is all it takes.