by Peter McDonald, Radio Times, November 4, 1971
Pete Duel admits he often finds himself envious of Hannibal Heyes, the outlaw character he plays in Alias Smith and Jones.
“He is hunted by every posse, yet he is still able to laugh. It’s something I love him for. I try to be like that, but with so many problems besetting the world, from war to pollution and injustice, I find it difficult to keep smiling.”
The intense 30-year-old bachelor, the son of a third generation doctor from the rural community of Penfield on America’s East coast, lives with three dogs in a ramshackle old house in a modest suburb of Hollywood. [Ed. Note: Pete actually lived in an apartment over a garage.]
“For a time I wanted to be a navy pilot,” he says. “But I finally decided on medicine. I suppose because of my father.”
“After two years of university, my father took me aside after seeing me in a campus play and said, ‘Why don’t you go to drama school instead of wasting my money here ?'”
Looking back to that period when his entire focus was on his career, Duel—shortened from Deuel in his bid for simplicity—recalls a growing restlessness which found an outlet with the emergence of Eugene McCarthy, who became a hero of American youth during the 1968 Presidential campaign.
“I worked throughout the campaign, including the riots in Chicago. One experience I shall never forget was being confronted by bayonet-bearing National Guardsmen. It was as if someone had suddenly taken the blinkers off me. I had to go back and rethink everything and strip myself of the myths and half-truths.”
Ben Murphy—who plays Kid Curry, Duel’s partner in the series—went to eight colleges and universities.
“I was born in a small town, Jonesboro, in Arkansas, and I couldn’t wait for my childhood to be over,” says 28-year-old Murphy.
“I consciously set myself to clarifying my life. My full range of feelings weren’t bang put to use and I was disturbed. I needed an outlet.”