Pete Duel: On His Girlfriends
This collection of Pete’s words are also found in the “Complicated, Simple Me” book, available in the PDMS Store, pulled from various newspaper and magazine articles which quoted him as saying such.
On His First Loves
This girl entered my life when I was a junior in high school. She’d come to our school from another state. I was an ‘A’ student then, exemplary in most ways. But in my senior year I suddenly became a bum, with a capital B. There’s a reason why. I had left childhood behind when I fell in love and I didn’t have any idea of where I would go, what I would do, or how. Even going to college was merely taking the line of least resistance. This girl had me wrapped up inside and out, mind, body, spirit, the whole bag. I tell you, it tied me in knots and left me busted into 50,000 bits on the floor. And then came the worst shock of all. She gave me the boot. One day I went to a wedding reception and got totally and thoroughly smashed. My girl was working as a checker in a market near her home. Well, I walked in, maybe staggered would be the word, and she was busy ringing up a customer’s tab. I asked her for a kiss then and there. She refused and told me I was drunk … So I stretched out on the counter — that’s right, on the checkout counter — puckering up my stupid face for a kiss … The line was piling up and people were beginning to get very annoyed. In my state, I felt it was a most romantic situation like in the movies when Cary Grant might do it to get a kiss from Doris Day. They started to yell for the manager. So my buddy dragged me out by sheer force. She saw me a couple of times after that, but it was never the same. I could see what was in her mind, the picture of me lying on that darn counter, all puckered up for the kiss that never came.
In raising hell at college and in playing around with the girls I made an interesting discovery. The girls who were the most promiscuous were usually the daughters of parents who had prohibited all frank discussion of sex at home and/or inoculated their daughters with the idea that sex was dirty. Adults who take the time to examine the so-called revolt of young people in this country today will find that this is one of the most violent protests of all. It is not an idle objection, either. For after a lot of honest soul-searching, the new generations are convinced it is nonsense to regard the most moving emotional force of our lives as something shameful.
I’d been four weeks in the hospital because of an auto accident, and was bedridden in my parents’ living room. I was a college man at St. Lawrence University, and considered myself quite the bon vivant of the campus. So my sister brings around this girlfriend of hers. Pam was somewhat deflated when I answered indignantly, “Don’t you think she is a little young for me?” But Pam wouldn’t be discouraged. And mostly to get my sister off my back, I quite condescendingly asked the “kid” out … I didn’t see her for nearly two years.
At 22, I was in love with a college girl in New York City I originally dated in our home town — Penfield, New York. At that time, I landed a lead in a play that went on tour for six months. I feared the long separation my work caused would be rough on us and I was right. It did break us up.
I was on tour with the national company of Take Her She’s Mine and wanted to get married and make a honeymoon trip out of the tour. You know what my problem was? I was just running scared. I was afraid that if I didn’t marry her right then, by the time I came home again she d be gone — which is a pretty feeble reason for getting married, you’ll have to admit. Well, anyway, she made us wait. And I’ll always be grateful to her that she did.
She was just starting college and she didn’t want to get married. It was so much better not to marry than to marry and have to get a divorce later on.
We were still friends but we had definitely fallen out of love … I found her as attractive as ever, even more so, but the fire was out. We spent a lot of time together. We had many laughs about this or that. I don’t know why or how it happen[s] … falling out of love … but time does click on … and people do change…
Having a marriage when you’re in show business and making it work is damn hard — it’s damn hard for anybody. We weren’t built to be with just one person all the time — we were built to be with one or two people most of the time. We’ve been brought up to think we should be with just one person in order to exist. Now, mores are changing.
It takes a long time to find out what the other person is really like, which means opening yourself up to the person. Having never been married, I can’t really tell you about the changes a relationship undergoes once a couple is married. I’ve heard that some people supposedly change overnight. In these cases, though, I suspect that the couple got married without knowing much about each other … what the other person is really like. If people lived together before they got married, I’m sure there would be a lot fewer marriages.
I don’t believe in marriage being the next step in a relationship. Marriage goes hand in hand with children. I dig having a child but not right now.
On Sally Field
She’s the first young woman I’ve known who acts her age. Most twenty-one-year-olds try to act like they’re thirty-five, which makes them dismal flops as far as I’m concerned. Sally’s a very refreshing change.
… a cute girl from whom a guy should expect nothing but laughs. That’s not meant as a subtle put-down. Sally’s just not the serious type. She doesn’t get involved. If a situation takes a serious turn, she’ll always find a way to take it somewhere else … like Fun City. Whenever I hear that Sally is involved in a romance, I give credit to her press agent.
I never met Sally before we started filming Gidget. She hadn’t been in the business until then, you know. All I really knew was that she was a sweet little thing. And that she is, but Sally is much more than that, too. She’s a very hip girl. Although she has that same wide open, sparkling cuteness that Gidget had, she’s much, much more. Very intelligent, and has a very liberal, open-minded philosophy. She’s no kid. After all, the role she was playing was that of a fifteen-year-old girl. Sally is twenty and that’s about the biggest five-year age gap you’re ever going to find. Besides, the way Gidget had to be written for television didn’t portray exactly all the things we know little girls of fifteen do. It all had to be very light, mostly quite superficial. Which meant it only portrayed a very small facet of Sally’s personality. But she played it honestly, so it came across great. And, obviously, she’s certainly not sorry she was Gidget.
Sally is the most unaffected girl I’ve ever met. So very honest, as I said. And her eyes just aren’t “sparkling” when she’s with a man. They’re on the man. Some girls hide a deep fear of men and a general feeling of inferiority with a facade of cuteness. But not Sally. She sparkles, but it’s real. She really is very down-to-earth and with it every minute. And she looks at a guy, not through him or around him.
You know what impressed me about Sally? She made me a cheese sandwich at three o’clock in the morning … It was the way she offered to do it. I was hungry after a date and when I took her home I muttered something about it. Even offered to fix it myself. It was the way she said, ‘No, I’ll do it,’ as if it were really something she wanted to do. And there was no nonsense about it. She didn’t feel it was expected of her. She felt it was something she expected of herself. Just very happy about it.
Sally is interested in everything, too. She’s interested in sports and music and she’s not shallow in her interests. Take music, for instance. She loves all kinds, from rock and roll right up through opera, as long as it’s good. That says something to me. That she really loves music in her heart. That it’s not just something she’s studied and thinks she should like. Or has a technical knowledge of, but no deep appreciation for. Nope; she likes it, as long as it’s done well.
Sally has a scatterbrained side — who doesn’t? It’s part of the fun. But I’ve found her also to he very level-headed. Much more so than people who know her only casually would think. [Sally] is no kid. She’s very much a real woman.
We went to one hockey game while we were working together on Gidget, but that was all. Our first big date, I guess you’d call it, was at the last WAIF [World Adoption International Fund] ball. Sally was involved in it officially. Anyway, I must confess that Sally was a very pleasant surprise to me … Very. Oh boy, is she deep. And quite frank with a man, which I didn’t expect. And which I found extremely pleasant.
On Judy Carne
I like older women — they’re usually more experienced, more mature. And, you don’t have to play games with them — I mean that both sexually and emotionally. Judy Carne’s a year older than I am, you know. She’s 27.
I suppose there’s nothing more frustrating for a well-organized, schedule-conscious person like Judy than to come up against an all-round mess of loose ends like me. I tease her a lot about her temper, maybe too much. But I will say this, her temper isn’t the obnoxious kind. We have some pretty spicy words for each other, but she fights at a man’s level and we never leave the set at night bearing grudges.
We just called a temporary truce in your honor. As you can see, Judy and I always do things together. In fact, we wouldn’t think of letting you interview us separately. It’s not that we don’t trust each other; it’s just that we want to make sure you get both sides of the story straight … Judy, baby, I didn’t know you cared. But if you call this loving me dearly, I’d hate to find out what it would be like to have you hate me dearly … In a nutshell, that’s it. We get into some real battles here, but it’s all for the good of the show. We’ve come close to all-out war a few times. But we both are aware of the dangers involved. Both of us know that if our relationship became completely intolerable the show might suffer. Like they might have to divorce David and Julie, ’cause we two can’t get along. But we’re both very fortunate that we’re in a hit series and we wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize our work. We’ve always got that hanging over our heads. So no matter how hectic a day we have here together, we never leave the studio bearing grudges. We kiss and make up at the end of each day … Right now we’ve got to get back to work. They just rang the bell for round two.
It was a big thing with Judy Carne at first. We didn’t turn off our affection when the camera stopped. She’s a great friend!
Judy’s all woman with a big extra — she has compassion underneath. I don’t think the series could have happened without her. She’s straightforward and coldly honest with herself.
We rarely see each other off the set — unless we happen to bump into each other accidentally. I think it’s a good arrangement. We get our fill of each other during the day. Besides, there’s no reason for seeing one another after working hours. We have our separate lives. We’re two very different people. If we were very much alike, it would probably be even harder to keep our working relationship from going on the rocks completely.
We don’t see each other as much now as we did at first, but, if anything, I’m fonder of her now than I was before.
On Jill Andre
Richard, Jill, and I worked together in some education shows for Columbia College in California. Her husband directed them — Jill and I acted in them. We did one called The Case of the Crushed Petunias, a Tennessee Williams one-act play about a vital, lively young man who meets a mousy, withdrawn young woman who runs a little antique shop. Well, the vital young man brings out the best in her; he brings out the woman in her. Ah, you’re going to draw an interesting analogy, aren’t you?
I was a friend of the family before Jill and Dick got their divorce. I met them because I was going with a girl who was living in their home. I was not responsible in any way for Jill’s and Dick’s divorce. They were going through a rough time when I met them. But they made the right decision. They decided to get a divorce. Also, I used to baby-sit for Jill and Dick. When the kids were real teeny. Packy was one and Gabby was three. I was an out-of-work actor and they used to feed me. So, you see, I was lucky enough to sort of grow up with the kids. One night when I was baby-sitting, Packy began crying his heart out. It was about eleven o’clock and he was just sobbing. So I went into his room, gave him a little water and he was so glad to see me that I took him back to the other room with me, propped him up against a pillow next to me, and we both fell sound asleep. Boy, he was happy with that; it was great.
There’s very little confusion in their lives. There has been a minimum of hostility. Every question the kids have had has been answered honestly, so now they know where they stand. Such as when they asked am I their father. They asked their mother and she explained it to them, that Dick was their father, always would be their father. That if she ever married again, to me or any other man, Dick would still be their father. And that her husband would be their stepfather. Then she explained that.
We do things together as a family unit, the four of us. True, I’m not there as much as a husband or father would be, but I assume far more responsibility than a boyfriend. When I’m around, I have just as much control as Jill, and I share their disciplining. And they respect me just as much as they do Jill, too. I really love those two kids. They are such beautiful children. Such great kids. And we let them know they are loved, which is the most important thing in a child’s life.
There have been a lot of beautiful things that have happened between us. Recently, when the show took a break, I went back to visit my parents. And Packy and Gabby told Jill how much they missed me and wished that I were home. These kids are so much healthier than most kids. They are very open and free. So divorce can be a good thing. And it’s needed in more instances than it occurs.
It would be silly for her to jump out of one divorce into another marriage; we both feel that way. Then too, quite frankly, knowing myself, I feel that I am not emotionally ready to be married. I’m not ready to totally commit myself to marriage.
Of course if I were to get married to Jill, I would see that her children were taken care of, but I’m not prepared for the other responsibilities of marriage. If I were married, I’d resent being tied down; I would either be gadding about or wanting to gad about. Jill herself has put no pressure on me. At this point, she is no more eager to rush into marriage than I am. She has the experience of an unhappy marriage to look back on; that may have made her cautious.
Jill and I didn’t become involved with each other until after she and her husband were in the process of getting a divorce. While we were just friends it became obvious to me that things weren’t working out in their marriage.
In the beginning I’d had no real reaction to Jill. She was so thoroughly ensconced in her role as the mother of a three-year-old girl, Gabriel, and a one-year-old boy, Pascal, I never thought of anything but friendship between us. Richard, Jill, and I were all friends; close friends find out about each other. No one broke the news that they were having problems to me with any specific statement like, ‘We may have to get a divorce.’ I was a part and parcel of their problems because I was a close friend. They both confided in me. Well, Jill did so more than her husband, but we were close friends, all three of us; it was not Jill and me against her husband, so please don’t write it that way.
… it could hardly be called love at first sight with Jill and me. I don’t actually recall — it was such a long time ago — what first attracted me to Jill. It just sort of happened, you know, over a long period of time. A communication developed. True, I’m going with an older woman who has two children and I love them very much. The only qualm I have is that a guy, when he first gets married, would like to start his own family from scratch. But … rarely, if ever, does a guy find an ideal situation.
It’s not an infatuation. It’s been going on too long for that.
I have at times been involved with women much older than Jill. Many young men become involved with women in their late thirties and early forties. Jill is not much older than me — so she doesn’t have that kind of appeal for me. If you could see Jill, you’d think she was the same age as me or younger. A few nights ago we were at a pizza stand with her two children. A fellow behind the counter asked me, ‘Are those your kids?’ I said, ‘No, they’re not mine, they’re hers.’ He looked incredulous. He said, ‘Are you kidding? She doesn’t look old enough to have children.”
Her ex-husband and I have never had any argument about my romance with Jill. Dick and I have remained friends. We saw each other only this afternoon. Actually, it was not a case of one person leaving the other, and the other wanting the two of them to stay together. Their divorce was a mutual decision.
As a friend, I was sad when I saw their marriage wasn’t working, but I didn’t try to bring about a reconciliation. I’ve been through enough romantic entanglements to know when two people are able to reconcile and when they’re not. I was aware, as were Dick and Jill, that there was not going to be any reconciliation. It was not a matter of reconciling two people unable to live together from the standpoint of peaceful co-existence. Rather, it was a case of two people who wanted to go their separate ways. They probably could have co-existed peacefully on the surface, but all sorts of problems arise that way. Marriages where a husband and wife stay together just to maintain an image are destructive to them and to their children. If parents remain with each other, allied in that kind of a marriage, there is always an undertone of hostility. But when two mature, intelligent adults like Jill and Dick decide on a divorce, their children are told what they have to know and given honest explanations. I know for a fact that Gabriel and Pascal are healthier emotionally than the children of those parents who stay together out of some Puritan, out-of-proportion sense of duty to their children. Many couples who stay together for their children eventually hurt the children; it’s harmful to a child to live in an atmosphere filled with undercurrents of tension and hostility.
Gabriel and Pascal are delightful children; the divorce has had no traumatic effect on them. They have accepted me; they also accept discipline from me, when Jill and I feel they need it. I don’t want you to get the feeling that I’m a fifth wheel in the family. Jill and I have been going together for a year and a half. Even before that, the children were used to seeing me around the house, because of my friendship with both their parents. When their parents separated, they were saddened by the idea that their father and mother wouldn’t be living together any more, but they adapted to the situation.
You don’t have to restrict the disciplining of children to a given number of people, as long as those who discipline them are in accord on the method. We never spank them except when they get way out of line. And even then, they never get a spanking as such; it’s such a barbaric custom when you take a child and hit him four or five times. Pascal and Gabriel get one good whack if they really step out of line, after having been warned a couple of times. They probably each get an average of only a whack a month. They’re very well-behaved and very spontaneous.
The prime consideration in this divorce was the children. Richard and Jill had many honest discussions. They wanted to be sure that they were doing what was best not only for themselves but also for Pascal and Gabriel. They didn’t rush into the divorce. Neither of them ever stormed out of the house in a tantrum; they didn’t do anything impulsively. It was a thing they deliberated about for a long, long time. They spent all their knowledge and a year of their time considering the matter before they took a step. They finally made their decision, and got the divorce in such a way that everyone has come out smelling like a rose. And the children are the happiest I’ve ever met. They aren’t torn between their parents. They see their father throughout the week and spend most of their weekends with him. Sometimes Jill and I will be going out and Richard and his girlfriend will come over and babysit. At other times when we’re going some place we’ll drop the kids at Richard’s place. Sometimes Dick will call up and say, “I’m free on such and such a date. Are you planning anything with the kids? If you’re not, I’d like to have them.” And we say, “Fine. Sure.” We work things out like civilized human beings. The youngsters know that we all love them, and there is none of the terrible feeling that children have who are being fought over.
What first attracted me was her spontaneity, her great open-faced enjoyment of things. Jill has a wide range of appreciation. We go to dinner and the movies together; we also go to baseball games. We both like good books and good music — everything from present-day folk rock to classical music and opera. Sometimes we both go skiing. But whether we’re skiing in the snow or romping in the sun or just cueing each other on lines in a TV show, we enjoy being together; we’re together during almost all our free time.
Before I fell in love with Jill I wasn’t the most faithful guy in the world. I run the straight and narrow with her now. When we were first going together — well, let me put it this way — there have been periods in our relationship when I was less faithful than I am now.
When I do get married, I definitely hope it will be to Jill or a girl like her. As a matter of fact, I have a hard time imagining marrying anyone but Jill because of what she is and what she means to me. I found that out very quickly the two or three times we broke up. Once we had what you might call a trial separation for three or four weeks. The reason we had broken up was like the reason I don’t want to get married yet — I was starting to get itchy feet; I was getting restless. It didn’t seem wise to be seeing just one girl when we didn’t plan on getting married. I stayed away from Jill for a few very lonely weeks. Oh, I took out other girls, and I enjoyed being with them up to a point, but they couldn’t supply the companionship Jill does. I just couldn’t help comparing them with Jill, and they just didn’t compare. I was terribly unhappy without her. I couldn’t take the separation, and we got back together again.
I’m not saying we’re perfectly contented with the present situation. If we were married, Jill would never be perfectly contented; neither would I. I don’t believe that anyone is ever perfectly contented in any situation. That’s a fact of life we have to accept. Thinking otherwise is what goofs up kids who get married young thinking once they get married all their troubles will go away, that marriage will solve all their problems.
On Kim Darby
Kim’s a very special person and there aren’t many around like her. But marriage — well, we’re making no plans. It’s difficult. The death rattle of a bachelor is a long and painful thing.
Kim’s divorce has just become final and we want to get to know each other. There’s been a lot of pressure on Kim, and she needs time to unwind and to start living again.
It won’t be one of those … [traditional weddings].
It’s up in the air. But I believe our love will last. All I can say is that I love her and a marriage date is up to her. I’m ready to be a husband and father.
I don’t see how it [publicity] can hurt us. I know what I say, so if I read something, I know the source. The only thing that can influence Kim and me in our relationship is our own feelings.
It’s over. Let’s go.
On Dianne Ray
I was a basket case when I first met her. I was living in a ratty garage apartment. Would you believe I was afraid to leave that place? I was like a child with a security crisis. Then Dianne moved me out and I saw the sun for what seemed like the first time in years. I almost threw-up thinking of the life I had been leading.
I’m verging. I have reached the point now where I can think of supporting a wife.
[I look for] the qualities I see in Dianne: Compassion, generosity, intelligence and beauty — not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. She’s also very curious, a person who delights in the varieties of life, who likes experiencing different things meeting different people. She delights in life itself.
You start with two people — for me, it’s me and Dianne — and you go on from there.
If you’re in the public eye, it very often makes for trouble within your private life. That’s something I simply cannot handle. I just emotionally could not handle that. Many people today find they can handle a responsible relationship with their partner and, at the same time, maintain another lover. But everyone knows that to make a relationship work, you have to put an awful lot into it. And when you’re unhappy with the way you’re living your life, if you’re not careful, you have a tendency to blame your mate — when you’re close to someone …
We’re in a transitional period. Marriage — meaning the commitment of two people to each other — is not on the way out, of course. Legal marriage may be. However, I think that if a couple has children, they may find that they want to get married just for legal reasons, for the children. If you’re not married in the eyes of the law and there are children… well, many complex problems can arise.
Love means being willing to give as much of yourself as you expect the person you’re in love with to give to you. It’s the same “Do unto others” principle on a personal basis, that’s what love really is. If you have that — if you practice that — then you are in a love situation. With Dianne, I find myself taking responsibility more and more. And the more I take, the more I enjoy it, which is a very pleasant surprise to me.
There is a special lady in my life, but at the present time we are in the transition stage. We’re … uh, not together right now.
I’m learning from a lot of mistakes I’ve made with Dianne in the past two years. I’m learning a great deal, and hopefully I’ll never stop learning.
[I’m trying] to patch together my private life which fell apart with the help of this series.
If a relationship has lasted a long time, there’s never one, particular thing. There is no specific reason why — nothing like I didn’t clean my fingernails… Let’s say that we’re dealing with each other again. Not “exclusively” … that’s so cliche. When you have broken up with someone, “seeing each other” isn’t even good. When I say we are seeing each other again I mean first our romance, our relationship, our whole thing breaks up, and now we’re working at it again. We’re trying to put it together again. This will be a new feeling. We’ve both changed quite a bit. We’ve both learned quite a lot from whatever we’ve done before. And we’re going at it just one step at a time. Whatever happens will happen — that’s all. If it works out to our mutual benefit, we’ll be together. Otherwise, no. We don’t want to be a part of something that will destroy one or the other of us.