Teen Pin-Ups, April 1972
The two crouched behind a bush at the top of a hill. It was hot: the sun beat down on them, and there was very little breeze to cool the air. Pete Duel, a pair of binoculars up to his eyes, looked down the hillside. At what? Was he girl-watching? Bird-watching? Spying?
Suddenly he turned toward Ben Murphy next to him and raised his arm, then brought it down again on Ben’s shoulder. Ben, losing his balance, tumbled through the bush and down the hill, rolling over and over and over himself until he landed, still, at the bottom.
What was going on? Had Pete deliberately pushed Ben down the hill? Had it been an accident? And what were they doing, anyway? What or who were they looking at?
“It was just another one of those crazy things that happen to us during an Alias Smith and Jones shooting,” Ben explained with a wide grin and a good-natured chuckle. “We’ve had some really wild experiences … sometimes we can’t stop laughing all day!”
But back at the bottom of the hill, Ben was slowly getting to his feet. He looked up the incline to where Pete, now standing, watched him. The first thing Ben did was shake his fist at Pete. But it was obviously just a joke, because the second thing he did was start to laugh.
“When you shoot an action show,” Pete explained, “there are times when there’s a little too much action. This was one of those times.”
This was what was supposed to happen: Pete was supposed to be watching the bad guys at the bottom of the hill through the binoculars. Then he was supposed to tap Ben on the shoulder and hand him the binoculars so he could look at the bad guys, too. But Pete’s tap, though not particularly hard or forceful, somehow caught Ben off-balance and caused him to fall down the hill and, luckily, out of camera range.
Was he hurt? He’s happy to report that the worst injury he suffered was an aching tummy from laughing for the rest of the day.
“There are plenty of times when Pete and his horse don’t see eye-to-eye, too,” Ben said. “And that’s a funny sight.” He smiled his magnificent smile and winked slyly. “I guess I have the same trouble at times. And it’s pretty funny.”
Obviously, Ben Murphy and Pete Duel get along very well on the set in order to be able to share so many laughs during the hectic and trying days of shooting. For two guys who are on a tight schedule to be able to enjoy themselves while working shows real friendship and understanding, as well as great senses of humor.
“But we have our arguments, too,” Pete confided. “Mostly they’re about the fact that I smoke occasionally and Ben doesn’t. So when I light a cigarette during rehearsals, he has to smell it because he’s always standing so close to me. So he gives me a shot in the arm and tells me to put it out … and I tell him to get lost. And that’s the end of it,” he jokingly confides.
Are they as good buddies away from the set as they are on? Actually, not in the usual sense. That is, they live their own lives separately and don’t often see each other socially away from the studio. On the other hand, though, they share a similar kind of life. Both are very much into books and read avidly. Both are interested in preserving and enjoying nature. Both believe that what you eat helps determine what you are, so both try to eat organic and natural foods. Both are quite unaffected by their fame, their stardom, and the material things that can come out of it.
In short, you could say that Pete Duel and Ben Murphy enjoy their lives every second — morning, noon or night. And just being around them makes a smile come to your lips, too.