by Maureen Donaldson; ‘TEEN Magazine, August 1971
[Y]ou take off with Ben and your photographer to shoot some pictures before going out to dine with Ben and meet Pete Duel later. On the way, Ben raps about his role of Kid Curry/Thadeus Jones in the show Alias Smith and Jones, the television series in which he is a regular.
What about Pete Duel, Ben’s co-star in the series, perhaps better known to TV audiences as Alias Smith?
“Peter’s a very honest person. He has a wider range of emotions than I do,” says Ben. “He runs hot and cold, but he’s a great guy and I enjoy working with him very much.”
Ben does admit, however, that they do have their disagreements: “Well, to give you a good example,” he states, “sometimes it aggravates me when Peter smokes. He’ll light a cigarette during rehearsals, and I’ve got to stand there and breathe it. You see, we work so closely together, it’s impossible to avoid it. So I punch him and tell him to stop smoking, and he tells me to get lost and that’s it … ” he laughs heartily at the recollection.
And what about funny incidents on the set? Ben’s face takes on a serious expression for a few minutes, but soon breaks out into a huge smile. “Oh yes. Peter and I were on location once. We were watching the ‘baddies’ from a hillside, well, the crew put down a fake bush for us to crouch behind and the action was this: Peter was to look through the binoculars at the bad guys, then tap me on the shoulder and give me the binoculars. Then I was to look at the bad guys. Sound simple? Well, it didn’t work out that way at all! This is what actually happened. Peter looked up, tapped me on the shoulder and, as he tapped me, I lost my balance and slowly fell downhill through the fake bush and out of camera range. Aside from a few bruises and a weak side from laughing, I came out of it okay, but it did ruin the entire scene. Oh, and there have been plenty of times when Peter couldn’t get on his horse and I couldn’t get on my horse. Those were always hysterically funny because we’d kid each other about it.”
It’s getting late and you have to meet Pete Duel before going to a birthday party with Ben. You can see Pete standing patiently on the other side [of the street].
The first thing that strikes you about Pete is the pronounced dimples he has when he smiles! You can’t help but wonder how on earth these two handsome guys have managed to remain bachelors this long (Pete is 30). Hundreds of beautiful girls must have tried to win their hearts, but obviously they have failed. There’s hope for you gals yet!
How did Pete come to choose acting for his career?
“Well, when I was in high school, I had dreams of becoming a pilot but I gave those up when I enrolled at St. Lawrence University in New York,” Pete explains. “I studied to be what I thought my father would want me to be — a doctor, but it turned out to be a disaster. The only thing that kept me sane was the elation I experienced in performing in every play staged by the drama department. So I decided that acting was the career for me.”
“I auditioned for the American Theatre Wing and spent two years studying Shakespearean drama, comedy, dancing, elocution and body movement. This is a long story, huh?” he laughs and then continues, “Universal Studios signed me to a contract after they saw my performance in the movie The Hell With Heroes. My first comedy role was the part of the brother-in-law in the Gidget television series. From that I went on to another comedy series, Love on a Rooftop. This is my third (Alias Smith and Jones) … I guess that I’m destined to do comedy.”
Pete was dating Kim Darby for a while when they co-starred in the movie Generation and is now constantly in the company of a girl named Dianne, although he says, “I’m not ready to settle down and get married for a while.”
He lives in a modest apartment in North Hollywood near the studios. They both agree that they want to move eventually, but as yet they just haven’t had the time.
What does Pete do in his free time?
Pete scratches his head thoughtfully for a few minutes, then replies, “I’m an outdoors man — I love taking off every chance I get in my four-wheel-drive camper and roaming around the countryside. I’m considering buying property right now near Sonora, California. I’m also an avid reader of political journals and a soaker-upper of the writings of contemporary thinkers!”
Has television success turned their heads?
“Not in the least, not at all,” Ben replies. “I think if anything it has made us both humbler.”
On that note, you say goodbye to Pete and race off with Ben to his friend’s party.
“Isn’t he a great guy?” Ben says as he opens the car door for you. “I knew you’d dig him.”