by Judy Hugg; Dallas Morning News, February 11, 1971
“I’m not really an ecology nut or a fanatic on preserving the environment,” said Pete Duel, “but I grew up in a beautiful country and I’d like it to stay that way.” Pete, who co-stars with Ben Murphy on ABC’s Alias Smith and Jones series, was born in Penfield, NY. His interest in the out-of-doors started as soon as he was old enough to walk.
“My father started taking me camping in the woods when I was just a little fellow,” he recalled. “In those days, Penfield was a real country town with fields and woods to play in, and it was a great place to grow up—that is, until they started building subdivisions.”
Like most youngsters, when they see their secret hiding places being torn down, Pete was saddened.
“I was very upset at the time,” he explained. “I really hated the people who bought the new houses because I thought they were responsible for the builders coming with their bulldozers and tearing up the fields I loved.
“Of course, I see things differently now. You can’t criticize them for wanting to move out of the city into Penfield. Actually, since it was an early development, the houses are nice. And for once, they left a lot of trees, so it’s turned into a lovely community. It’s just that it isn’t a country town anymore.”
When not filming his series, Pete likes to get as far away from the city and the freeways as possible.
When Pete decided to leave his family, which incidentally has six doctors in its background, and had high hopes of getting a seventh, but instead got an actor, he didn’t join the jet set. Instead he drove.
“I wanted to see the country so I didn’t come to Hollywood on a jet plane,” he said. “I drove across the country, stopping whenever I saw something that looked interesting. I didn’t stop in motels because I had a simple little pup tent and I put it up whenever I felt tired.
“The trip held only one real disappointment though. I had allowed myself plenty of time to get into the Rockies, but when I reached the mountains, it was raining. Well, not knowing the weather conditions out here, I set up the tent, dug trenches around it for the runoff, and was ready to wait the rain out. But after 10 days, everything I owned was soggy. I finally gave up and headed for California without ever seeing a mountain.”
Besides being an avid outdoorsman, Pete is something of an accomplished artist. He uses a felt pen for the drawings which he says can range “from semi-cartoon caricatures to abstracts, lines that have no meaning except that their relationship on paper is interesting.”
He plans to do even more painting when he gets his land and house all squared away in the mountains.