THE 'ALIAS SMITH & JONES' STORY,
Superstar Magazine, November 1972
"My working day starts with me getting up around quarter-to-seven when I go for a run, exercise myself well. You have to keep fit in this game. Then, of course, I have a shower and turn up at the studios at eight o'clock.
"My day ends around six or seven o'clock when I have the next day's script to go through to make sure I know my lines, then around ten o'clock I crawl into bed! By Friday evening, believe me, I'm really exhausted. I just spend the weekend relaxing, getting ready for Monday again!"
Surprisingly enough, Ben wasn't much of a horserider when he started the series, so he had to learn fast--the painful way! He rides a horse called Midnight, but fondly nicknamed Pig by Ben, as he always eats everything in sight if you let him have his way!
Apart from studio work, the team often go out on location to the wilder parts of Southern California, which is cactus and desert land. There's no star treatment either. When it's mealtime you get in the food-line with everyone else for what's going!
In fact, these wild open spaces must have made Pete Duel quite happy, as these are the kind of places he used to slip off to when he had the time. He used to like renting a motorcycle, or a jeep with a four-wheel drive, or simply hike through the backlands of the Southwest and Mexico as a kind of escape. In fact, he said he'd rather be out in a tent somewhere, underneath the stars in a quiet corner of the Mojave desert than anything else he could think of.
With a big jeep, loaded up with piles of canned food, a stove, a tent, he'd head out for these remote wastelands, and sometimes he'd go exploring. Armed with just a compass and maps, he would search out old mines and ghost towns that thrived in these areas over a hundred years ago. The treasures he found that made it exciting were things like the handle of a miner's shove, or the nails from an old mule shoe.
CRACK OF DAWN
Alias Smith & Jones is made at Universal City in Hollywood and the studios begin to come to life at the crack of dawn. People start arriving, like the make-up artists, hairdressers, wardrobe assistants and props people. Everything has to be ready and waiting for when the actors arrive. Ben lives quite near the studios, but it still means a very early start. By the time the studios really come alive, you can see actors, all appearing in different studios in different films wearing different costumes drifting around. The western area of the studios is where you'll find the cowboys.
While Smith and Jones get all rigged out, the producer and director and camera crews are getting everything ready for shooting so that not one minute is wasted. After all, time wasted on a film can run into thousands of dollars for any hold-ups.
Then, as Ben has said, they have a lunch break, just like the rest of us have, usually from one till two. The studio restaurant is a most incredible place where you can see stubbly-faced cowpokes sitting side by side with Al Capone-type gangster, or a grand Duchess in a tiara! It's all a strange make-believe world that stops at one o'clock for lunch. But after you've finished your pud, it's back to the saloon for a game of poker, or perhaps the possee are after you again or perhaps a little romantic love scene. It might be, as Ben said, a routine to him but it's a way of life he loves the best, and he wouldn't change it for the world.
One of the things Ben does admit to liking is the nice variety of pretty young actresses that appear in the series.
"When I was young I always loved Westerns, and had these images of beautiful dance hall girls and lovely ladies like Belle Starr, and Calamity Jane. But, someone spoilt it by giving me a book of actual pictures of these young ladies. Well, these ladies may have been fast on the draw, but they certainly weren't pretty! I'm glad that's the exception with our series!"
No wonder he's up at seven every day rushing
off to the studios!
Two shots from the current Alias Smith and Jones episodes which still feature Pete Duel
A very recent pic of Ben and Roger making another episode of the new 'Alias Smith and Jones' series which will be shown by the BBC when the present one ends
Ben certainly looks the part of a tough western gunfighter, doesn't he!
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