Dear Rona; Rona Barrett’s Hollywood, May 1972
Dear Rona, Please print this letter for me. It probably won’t mean anything to anyone else, but it has made me feel a little better: Dear Hollywood, Well, you have claimed another victim. It was in the person of Peter Duel. When I knew Pete in 1965 and 1966, he was happy to have gotten his series Love On A Rooftop. He was finally able to do some of the things he had wanted to do. Pete did not let the fame go to his head. He dressed the way he wanted in Levi’s and sweatshirts. He drove a beat-up Toyota jeep and it made him happy. What happened to the happiness Pete had then? What kind of pressure made him feel he couldn’t face another day? I have to believe that someday Pete will be born again in another time and place. I only hope he finds happiness the next time around.
Mrs. Pamela S. M****** San Diego, Calif.
If you read what Pete told us just before his death you’ll see that he hoped so, too.
When I found out Pete Duel died I was really upset. It was like a friend of mine died. What will happen to the show now? Will it stay on or off? My deepest sympathies to Pete’s entire family.
Our sympathies to Pete’s family also. The answers to your questions about the show appear in Televisionary on page 38.
Attached are two newspaper clippings which relate the tragic death of Mr. Pete Duel. One states a neighbor found Mr. Duel slumped in a small parked car outside his home fatally shot. No gun was mentioned. The article, submitted from Hollywood by UPI, stated police felt it was possible homicide. The second clipping (from Hollywood, no byline) stated he left his girlfriend after viewing the latest episode of Alias Smith and Jones and walked into another room at which time his girlfriend heard a shot. He was found, according to this article, lying beside a Christmas tree and a handgun was nearby.
If Mr. Duel could be as depressed as the one clipping states (and yet all the people interviewed claimed he was in such good spirits) he must have been an exceptional actor indeed. But I have yet to hear of anyone who could act so well as to convince a neighbor and police that he was possibly murdered in a parked car outside his home and also commit suicide inside his home within the hearing of his girlfriend.
I think this should be looked into.
Sue Ann C****
I called UPI to check this out for you and they referred me to our local City News Service, which referred me to the Associated Press who said they’d never heard the report on Pete’s being found in a car and that their reports had all come directly from the police. When I called Los Angeles Police Sgt. Dan Cook (who worked the case) he, too, had never heard the car report. “We originally thought it might be homicide,” he told me, “because a second bullet had been fired. But our investigation revealed it had been fired one week earlier. The official coroner’s finding was that ‘the wound was consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.’ There was no skullduggery. We investigated every aspect of the case.” Sgt. Cook also said interviews with Pete’s girlfriend, brother Geoffrey, and others revealed that while Pete had never threatened to kill himself, he had been very depressed. As to the erroneous report you read of Pete being found in a car, none of the news agencies will own up to it. But I can assure you of this: it was erroneous!