Pete Duel

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Pete Duel
Peter Duel Deuel 1966.JPG
Duel as John Cooper in Gidget
Born Peter Ellstrom Deuel
(1940-02-24)February 24, 1940
Rochester, New York, U.S.
Died December 31, 1971(1971-12-31) (aged 31)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Self-inflicted gunshot wound
Resting place
Oakwood Cemetery
Nationality American
Other names Peter E. Deuel
Peter Deuel
Pete Deuel
Education Penfield High School
Alma mater St. Lawrence University
Occupation Actor
Years active 1963–1971
Relatives Geoffrey Deuel (brother)

Peter Ellstrom "Pete" Deuel (February 24, 1940 – December 31, 1971), also known as Pete Duel, was an American stage, television and film actor. He is best known for his role as outlaw Hannibal Heyes (alias Joshua Smith) in the television series Alias Smith and Jones.

Duel died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the early morning hours on New Year's Eve, 1971. His death was ruled a suicide.

Early life[edit]

Peter Ellstrom Deuel was born in Rochester, New York, the eldest of three children born to Dr. Ellsworth and Lillian Deuel (née Ellstrom).[1] He had a younger brother, Geoffrey, who also became an actor, and a sister, Pamela.[2]

He attended Penfield High School where he worked on the yearbook staff, campaigned for student government, and was a member of the National Thespians Society.[3] He graduated in 1957 and attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, where he majored in English. Still, he preferred performing in the drama department’s productions to studying for his classes during his two years there. When his father came to see him in The Rose Tattoo, he realized that his son was only wasting time and money at the university, and told him to follow a career in acting.[4]

Duel's childhood home

Moving to New York, Duel landed a role in a touring production of the comedy Take Her, She's Mine. To find work in the movies, Duel and his mother drove across the country to Hollywood in 1963, with only a tent to house them each night.[5]

Career[edit]

In Hollywood, he found work in television, making small guest appearances in comedies like Gomer Pyle, USMC and dramas, such as ABC's Channing with Jason Evers and Combat! with Rick Jason and Vic Morrow. In 1965, he was cast in the comedy series Gidget. Duel played Gidget's brother-in-law, John Cooper, on the series, and appeared in twenty-two of the thirty-two episodes. Gidget was cancelled after only one season in 1966, but Deuel was immediately offered the starring role of Dave Willis, a newlywed apprentice architect, in an upcoming romantic comedy called Love on a Rooftop. Although the show earned good ratings, ABC decided not to bring it back after its first season. Duel wished to move from sitcoms to more serious roles. Around 1970, he also changed his name, dropping the "r" from Peter and the 1st "e" from "Deuel". In the credits on the series GIDGET, episode 25, his last name was printed "Devel". [6]

He appeared in The Psychiatrist, The Bold Ones, Ironside, and Marcus Welby, M.D.. He also made feature films during this time, beginning with the important role of Rod Taylor’s best friend and copilot, Mike Brewer, in The Hell with Heroes in 1968 and the next year in Generation. Following that movie, he went to Spain to film Cannon for Cordoba (1970), a western in which he played the mischievous soldier, Andy Rice.

In 1970, Duel was cast as the outlaw Hannibal Heyes, alias Joshua Smith, opposite Ben Murphy, in Alias Smith and Jones, a light-hearted western about the exploits of two outlaws trying to earn an amnesty. During the hiatus between the first and second seasons, he starred in the television production of Percy MacKaye’s 1908 play, The Scarecrow.

Personal life[edit]

Duel became involved in politics during the primaries for the 1968 presidential election, campaigning for Eugene McCarthy, in opposition to the Vietnam war.[7] He attended the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and witnessed the violence that erupted.[8]

Death[edit]

In the early hours of December 31, 1971, Duel died at his Hollywood Hills home of a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Duel's girlfriend, Dianne Ray, was at his home at the time of his death and discovered his body. Ray later told police the two had watched Duel's series Alias Smith and Jones the previous evening. She later went to sleep in another room while Duel stayed up. Sometime after midnight, Duel entered the bedroom, retrieved his revolver and told Ray "I'll see you later." Ray then said she heard a gunshot from another room and discovered Duel's body. According to police, Duel's friends and family said he was depressed about his drinking problem. He had been arrested and pleaded guilty to a DUI accident that injured two people the previous June.[9] Duel's death was later ruled a suicide.[10]

Duel's funeral was held at the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple on January 2, 1972 in Pacific Palisades. At the service, Duel's girlfriend read a poem he wrote entitled "Love". An estimated 1,000 friends and fans attended.[11][12] His body was flown back to Penfield, New York where he was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.[13]

After his death, his role in Alias Smith and Jones was taken over by Roger Davis (previously, the series' narrator). The loss of Duel proved too great; fans were slow to accept Davis, and the series was cancelled in 1973.

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1963 Espionage Target - You![14] Training film
1966 W.I.A. Wounded in Action Pvt. Myers
1968 The Hell with Heroes Mike Brewer
1969 Generation Walter Owen Alternative titles: A Time for Caring
A Time for Giving
1970 Cannon for Cordoba Andy Rice Alternative title: Dragon Master
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1963 Channing Episode: "The Last Testament of Buddy Crown"
1964 Combat! Szigeti Episode: "Vendetta"
1964 Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. 1st Man Episode: "Gomer and the Dragon Lady"
1964 Mickey Crazy Hips McNish Episode: "One More Kiss"
1964–1965 Twelve O'Clock High Various roles 2 episodes
1965 The Fugitive Buzzy Episode: "Fun and Games and Party Favors"
1965 Diamond Jim: Skulduggery in Samantha Wild Youth Television movie
1965–1966 Gidget John Cooper 22 episodes
1965–1967 The F.B.I. Various roles 2 episodes
1966–1967 Love on a Rooftop David Willis 30 episodes
1968 Ironside Jonathan Dix Episode: "Perfect Crime"
1968–1969 The Virginian Various roles 2 episodes
1968–1971 The Name of the Game Various roles 2 episodes
1969-1971 Marcus Welby, M.D. Various roles 2 episodes
1970 The Young Country Honest John Smith Television movie
1970 Insight Edward Episode: "A Woman of Principle"
1970 Matt Lincoln Father Nicholas Burrell Episode: "Nick"
1970 The Interns Fred Chalmers Episode: "The Price of Life"
1970 The Young Lawyers Dom Acosta Episode: "The Glass Prison"
1970 The Bold Ones: The Lawyers Jerry Purdue Episode: "Trial of a Pfc"
1970 The Psychiatrist: God Bless the Children Casey T. Poe Television movie
1970-1971 The Psychiatrist Casey Poe 2 episodes
1971 Alias Smith and Jones Hannibal Heyes/Joshua Smith Television movie
1971 How to Steal an Airplane Sam Rollins Television movie
1971–1972 Alias Smith and Jones Hannibal Heyes/Joshua Smith 33 episodes
1972 The Scarecrow Richard Talbot Television movie

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ (Green 2007, pp. 9, 12)
  2. ^ (Green 2007, p. 17)
  3. ^ (Green 2007, pp. 29, 31)
  4. ^ (Sagala 2005, p. 16)
  5. ^ (Sagala 2005, p. 17)
  6. ^ Shain, Percy (February 14, 1971). "He prefers Duel to Deuel". The Boston Globe. p. 4. 
  7. ^ "Actor Campaigning Here" (June 17, 1968). Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, found at Alias Smith & Jones Collection.
  8. ^ (Sagala 2005, p. 18)
  9. ^ Deutsch, Linda (January 1, 1972). "Duel Case Probably Suicide, Police Say". Waycross Journal-Herald. pp. P–2. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  10. ^ "TV's Answer Man". Lakeland Ledger. September 23, 1973. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Memorial Service For Peter Duel Draws Mouring Crowds". Lodi News-Sentinel. January 3, 1975. p. 13. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  12. ^ "1,000 At Rites for Peter Duel". The Evening News. January 3, 1975. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  13. ^ Penfield Post, June 14, 2007, page 6A, "You'd Never Guess Who is Buried Here" by Amy Cavalier
  14. ^ (Green 2007, p. 354)

Sources[edit]

  • Green, Paul (2007). Pete Duel: A Biography. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-3062-8
  • Sagala, Sandra K.; Bagwell, JoAnne M. (2005). Alias Smith & Jones: The Story of Two Pretty Good Bad Men. BearManor Media. ISBN 1-593-93031-3

External links[edit]