They’re Different As Night and Day—But Still Friends!
by Susan Rogers; Screen Life, January 1972
It’s been said that one of the reasons for the great popularity of ABC-TV’s Alias Smith and Jones is the striking contrast between the two leading men, Ben Murphy and Peter Duel. Alias is a Western series about two young outlaws who are seeking amnesty from their criminal past in order to have a fighting chance at a future.
Pete plays Hannibal Heyes, also known as Joshua Smith, and Ben plays Jed “Kid” Curry, alias Thaddeus Jones. The series, which deals with good and evil—with lots of comedy thrown in—rose to the top of the ratings soon after its initial airing last year. The dark, moody Duel and the blond, sunny Murphy have made their notch in the TV ratings—and in the hearts of the public—with this series, and they promise to be with us a long time.
In their roles on the show, and in real life, too, Pete and Ben are like night and day. Pete is infinitely more serious looking, with deep, piercing brown eyes and brown hair. Ben, on the other hand, looks like the blond, blue-eyed all-American boy. Although they are both Pisces (Ben was born March 6), Pete (February 24) has a Piscean temperament to a “T.” He’s changeable and moody and has an air of mystery, which women find just as irresistible as Ben’s bubbling good nature.
As far as their childhoods go, Pete and Ben share some things in common. For example they both grew up in suburbs of large towns. Ben, though born in the tiny town of Jonesboro, Arkansas, grew up in Hinsdale, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago where his parents still live and operate a clothing store. Peter was born in Rochester, New York, and raised in the suburban town of Penfield.
But Peter came from a more professionally-oriented family than did Ben. Pete’s dad is a doctor and his mother a nurse. There are six doctors in his family—his father, grandfather, two great uncles, and a second cousin. But Pete never seriously considered a career in medicine, nor did his brother and sister. His sister, Pamela, is a singer with the Entourage group, and his younger brother, Geoffrey, is an actor. Both his brother and sister use the original family name of Deuel, while Pete has simplified the spelling somewhat.
Restless Pete never got his degree, though he did attend St. Lawrence University for two years. Then, after having neglected his studies to take part in theatrical productions, he enrolled at the American Theatre Wing in New York City. After two years there, he joined the Shakespeare Wrights Repertory company as assistant stage manager and performer. After this, he toured with the Family Service Group, appearing in and producing shows for schools, service clubs, and PTA groups.
Ben hopped around, too, but he managed to get a lot more general academic work done. After graduating from St. Precopius Greek Orthodox School in Hinsdale, Ben enrolled at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. He stayed there only a year, then transferred to Loyola University in New Orleans. But, never content to stay in one place, he soon transferred to the University of the Americas in Mexico City. However, he didn’t even stay there long enough to get his degree. When he did graduate, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, it was from the University of Illinois. He did graduate work at Loyola University in Chicago and the University of the Americas, then enrolled at the Pasadena playhouse in California and got his second B.A., this time in theater arts.
Ben has continued to study since then, doing graduate work in theater arts at the University of Southern California and in physical education at San Fernando Valley State College. It’s hard to figure out how he had time to devote himself to his acting career, but somehow he managed to do it.
Pete’s first break came when he was signed for the movie Wounded in Action. His fine acting in this led to a co-starring role in the national road company production of Take Her, She’s Mine, with Tom Ewell. In Hollywood, he appeared in many TV series, including Combat!, 12 O’Clock High, The Fugitive, The Virginian, Marcus Welby, M.D., and The Bold Ones. Before Alias Smith and Jones, he had appeared in two other weekly series. As the brother-in-law on Gidget and in the starring role opposite Judy Carne as a young newlywed in Love On A Rooftop.
Ben’s credits are equally impressive. He played young reporter Ben Sample on The Name of the Game series. His movie credits include, The Graduate, Yours, Mine, and Ours, and on TV he has appeared in The Virginian, It Takes a Thief, and The Mod Squad.
In his spare time (?!), Ben has traveled extensively throughout the U.S., and he eventually hopes to write a book about his travels, based on notations in his many notebooks.
Ben lives alone in an apartment near Universal Studios. He’s a definite outdoorsman who likes to swim, ride horses, and play tennis. He is known for his sunny personality and good sense of humor, and enjoys parties, crowds, and girls, girls, girls.
When Ben is in public, more often than not, he has a lovely lady on his arm and, more often than not, it is a new lady every evening. Ben thinks young, and he wants to enjoy his youth to the utmost, attending all the parties, living in the moment, getting high on sports and good times.
Peter, on the other hand, is an admitted loner. Whenever he has the time, he jumps into his camper and takes off for the rugged High Sierras. He loves the rough life. “It’s a great way to recharge your batteries,” he says. He is not much for Hollywood nightlife, and prefers to spend his time at home, in the Beachwood Village section of Hollywood.
Whereas Ben is characterized by his quick smile and his boyish good looks, Pete is best known for his brooding, serious countenance and tall, dark, and handsome bearing. But this doesn’t mean that Pete is all work and no play or that Ben is the proverbial party boy. On the contrary, both have their mirror images. Pete is known to be fun in his own serious way, while Ben’s serious side most often comes under the heading of education. He is constantly reading, trying to learn as much as he can about everything.
The fact that Pete and Ben are such opposites, in both looks and personalities, makes their show as fascinating and entertaining as it is, and gives the show sex appeal for all kinds of girls, no matter what type of man they’re looking for. Ben and Pete may be two sides of the same coin, but viva la difference! In a pinch, most ladies would be happy to have a date with either of these handsome, marvelous guys!