FLIP, flipflap section, May 1972
The world has lost one of its greatest actors. He will be missed by many. I would like to suggest that you dedicate a page in FLIP in memory of Pete Duel. Maybe it could consist of pictures of him from his many roles on TV, or something else you feel would be fitting. But please, please, don’t ignore the subject of his death just because it was a probable suicide. Pete was a great man and an excellent performer, and he deserves some sort of tribute for the joy and happiness he brought to his fans. —Mary M., Woodside, N.Y.
Of all the thousands of words written about Pete Duel since his tragic death, some of the warmest and most heartfelt have been from you, the fans who truly loved him. There was no way we could print all of the hundreds of letters you sent FLIP, but the ones on this page are representative. They make up your own very private and loving tribute to Pete.
The sorrow I feel is that the world has lost a great actor. I give sympathy to Pete’s family and friends, for they have lost love, and that’s a very hard thing to come by. —R.M., Houston, Texas
My story begins at the start of a new TV series, Alias Smith & Jones. It was the beginning of a romance between and image and myself. He was tall and dark. He was also talented and extremely handsome. I watched the program continuously and grew fonder and fonder of him each time I saw him perform. The scripts for the show were good, but Pete’s great acting talent brought out the true theme of the story. He seemed like the kind of guy that you would only find in a dream world, and somehow he suddenly slipped into mine. Since Pete’s disastrous death, my dream has shattered. Reality has come back to me. Now I realize that he is no longer a star, but only a dream of my life that is over and can never be brought back again. —Angie & Jane C., Largo, Fla.
Here is it, 1:30 in the morning and I’m babysitting. Pete Duel has been dead 24 hours. God, why? His death has started 1972 off horribly and sadly for me. I still can’t believe he’s dead. When I read about it in the paper I was completely stunned. Why must such a sweet, talented, caring, beautiful guy like Pete have to die such a tragic death? Pete Duel will be alive in my memories and dreams forever. Please, FLIP, don’t ever forget him. If you could just mention him once in a while, it would help ease the sadness of losing a tremendous person like Pete. Thank you. —Martha, Malibu, Calif.
I can’t believe it. I turned on the radio: “Pete Duel is dead.” I looked at our newspaper. “Actor Pete Duel Found Shot to Death.” I called a girlfriend: “Guess what! Pete Duel is dead!” I can’t escape it. Everywhere I look, I see Pete’s name. I’ll never ever miss Alias Smith and Jones again. —Pete Duel Fan, Rockford, Ill.
It’s been five days since I heard of Pete Duel’s death. It came as a shock to me, and I know many others grieved with me that day. Though I may never have met him, I had a special place in my heart for him, and I still do. In my opinion, he was one great actor and seemed to be a great person. Pete Duel fans, we have lost a great friend. May I say, Pete, God bless you. —Jeanne, Minneapolis, Minn.
I don’t really believe I am writing this letter. But as I listen to the news broadcasts, I know it must be true. My favorite actor has just committed suicide. Oh, God, Pete, why did you do it? Didn’t you know we cared about you? FLIP, please let his family and friends, including Ben Murphy, know we all sympathize with them. Even though Pete is dead, I will never forget this great guy. May you rest in peace, Pete. —Karen-Lee B., Bethlehem, Conn.
All you Pete Duel lovers, please don’t cry. Even though Pete is gone, he is still in our hearts and minds. He’ll be happier in heaven than he ever was on earth. —Carrie G., Vidor, Texas
I loved Pete Duel with all of my heart, and I just can’t believe he’s really dead. Like me, Pete loved nature and was concerned with the ecology problem. If you saw the show Pete narrated, “Ah, Man, See What You’ve Done,” you’d know what I mean. Please print a few stories now and then about Pete, so I won’t completely fall apart. Pete was so handsome. I’ll always love him. —Jona B., Salt Lake City, Utah
Over the past few years you’ve seen Pete Duel play many different, exciting roles. These pictures will help you recall some of the highlights of his all-too-short career.
Photo captions: The first time you saw Pete Deuel (that’s how his name was really spelled then) was seven years ago in a TV series called Love on a Rooftop, in which he co-starred with Judy Carne.
That’s Pete on the far left, playing a “baby-faced killer” in the movie, Cannon for Cordoba.
Pete wore body makeup to darken his skin when he played an Indian on Marcus Welby, M.D.
Pete told friends that his role of “Richard Talbot” in the Hollywood Television Theatre production of The Scarecrow was the only satisfying piece of work he’d done in what turned out to be the last year of his life.
In the first episode of TV’s The Psychiatrist, Pete played a reformed drug addict opposite series star Roy Thinnes.
And of course, this is the way you’ll remember Pete the best — as the carefree, fun-loving Hannibal Heyes, alias Joshua Smith!