Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pete Duel

Pete Duel had a pretty big fan base for a little over a year in 1971 when the television western, Alias Smith and Jones was a top rated program. And at the peek of his and the shows popularity, he stunned his fans by committing suicide.

Some blame alcohol, others depression, but all we really know is that Pete Duel had the talent to be a major star. This is not only evident in Alias Smith and Jones, but in all of his work prior to that. He not only had good looks, but he had the charisma and talent to make up for any other short comings he may have had.

He showed promise in a supporting role in the movie, Hell is for Heroes, but it was television that really embraced him with major roles in the short lived shows, Gidget  and Love on a Rooftop, as well as his dramatic guest starring roles in other popular shows of the time like The Bold Ones and Marcus Welby, M.D., just to name a few.

It's hard to predict what might have been, but anyone familiar with the work of Pete Duel knows that he could have and most likely would have been a big star, making him the pick of the day for Not Very Famous...but should be.


    THERE ARE MANY MANY FAN SITES DEDICATED TO PETE ON THE INTERNET AND IN 1973 I ran the pete duel ecology committee in england and we had over 2,000 club members at that time. In 1983 I ran the pete duel memorial club which is still going to this day- plus there are also fan clubs for pete in the uk and the usa. I would say he is very famous
    pete due memorial club uk

  2. Jan - Pete Duel is probably more famous than many of the others on this blog, but I included him because I feel that a lot of the younger generations are not familiar with his work. If you ran the Pete Duel Ecology Committee in 1973, than you, like myself, are a baby boomer. And most of us born before 1965 remember him. I'm not aware of many people between the ages of 18 and 40 that consider Pete Duel a household name. I may be wrong. Either way, I'm happy to keep his work alive through this blog for anyone who remembers or doesn't know of him. Thanks for making me aware of the Pete Duel Memorial Club UK. And thanks for reading.

  3. One of the saddest things in life is the statement, ‘what could have been’. I am a baby boomer and was an avid fan of Alias Smith & Jones when it first aired. I loved the show and enjoyed watching both its stars but at that time was head over heels for Ben Murphy. Recently rediscovering the show, I began to feel the same way again, only now for Peter. I was well aware then, in the 1960’s, that he was already a versatile actor well before AS&J and had seen him in several television dramas before the series began. But it was only recently, through a little research and the Paul Green biography that I discovered what an extraordinary and troubled person he was. Before my employer denied access (I’m using an office work computer) I was in touch with a message board emanating from England where is seems there are many devoted Duel and Smith & Jones fans today. And many of the things I’ve read are composed by mature, articulate people who truly never waned in their admiration for him. And there is that school girl crush influence also which makes it so heartfelt and charming.
    I know I’m a little long in the tooth now to be having a crush. But everything about Peter Duel impresses me: his devastating smile; his eclectic talent; his family background; love for the outdoors and for animals; his experience with politics; his ‘ ahead of its time’ attitude towards ecology – even the sensitivity to have written poetry.
    The loss of such an intelligent, compassionate individual at such a young age was not only a loss for the entertainment industry and TV and movie fans, but there was no telling what he could have accomplished in his passion to make the world a better place. But he allowed his few weaknesses to blind him to all else that was good and special in him. I am certain now that his death was a tragic accident.
    Thanks to modern media, nothing is lost today. There are numerous ways to view old films and television. Therefore it would be a shame if more people were not familiar with Peter’s name and work.
    Thanks for including him here. And thanks to the Internet for making all this information easily available.
    Barbara L. New York City, NY

  4. Thank you for including my beloved Peter in your group of those who should be famous. He truly was gifted. It says a lot about a person when they can still affect people almost 42 years after their passing. I run a facebook group dedicated to his memory and it has many devoted, unwavering fans who strive to keep his memory alive. I too would like to see a new generation fall in love with the dimple-faced, brown-eyed man who stole our hearts so long ago, and still has mine today.

    Sincerely, Karen Huff

    1. So nicely said Karen. As soon as I purchase my own home computer I would like very much to join your Facebook group.
      Sincerely, Barbara L.

  5. Barbara. in 24/02 Pete Duel wil do 74 years. and after of 42 years your dead there are 6 groups speaking about he.Do you will can speak about he in this day?Thanks

  6. Well, I just want to add my tuppence worth and say that I am a massive Pete fan, even though he died about 2 years before I was born. That's right, I'm only 41 years old so Pete really was before my time. I "found him" through reruns on UK television (I'm from Scotland), and I was instantly captivated by his timeless good looks, dimpled smile and charm. Wanting to know more about him, I can't describe how I felt when I saw that he died in 1971 .... and, even more devastatingly, by his own hand. It gave those reruns of AS&J a terrible poignancy. I kept on reading up on everything I could find about him, including Paul Green's biography, and my heart aches when I think of "what might have been". I really, truly believe that Peter was way, way ahead of his time. He wore jeans and sweaters in an era when stars were still supposed to be 'glam' at all times, and his views on the environment - which seem perfectly reasonable today - were considered "far out". He was a complex person, that much seems obvious, but as a very sensitive person myself I can understand the feeling of the world's ills sitting heavily on one's shoulders.

    Finally, for all Peter hated AS&J, and thought it meaningless fluff, I just wish he could see that, 43 years on, people like myself are finding the show and loving it. He'd be astounded, don't you think?

    Merry Christmas, everyone.

  7. Peter has always been remembered by many. And he always will be remembered. His untimely death, whether it was sucide or otherwise, was one of the saddest days of my life.

  8. Great actor, thanks to all that keep his many talents alive. Still love watching ASJ, what great memories.

  9. A remarkable man. Wonderful to see how many remember him well after all these years. Thank you for this entry.

  10. I like his acting he had much talent.