Jackie, 1972 or 1973
Ben Murphy isn't married. He says that would be difficult in his business. That being TV and his series "Alias Smith And Jones". Ben just doesn't see how the two could go together.

When he's working on the series, Ben is at the studios in Hollywood by 7:30 a.m. and he works through until 7 p.m.

Then he goes home to his apartment (one in a block of thirty-five with "a typical California swimming pool"), and starts learning his lines, ready for the next morning.

Photo caption: Ben with his new acting partner, Roger Davis, who replaced the late Pete Duel.

"Would any woman put put with that?" he asks.

But he's had to close shaves: on both occasions it was the girl who walked out on him.

"I've been involved several times," says Ben, whom I met in London; he was in town for just a couple of days.

"But seriously involved--just twice. Both times, the girls left me, and I'm glad they did. Looking back, I know they were right.

"Someday, I'll settle down, but right now it's far from my mind. I travel so much and move around. I'm enjoying life."

With that schedule to maintain, five days a week while the series is in production, the life is a strict one. By the time he gets home to his apartment Ben says he's exhausted.

A press hand-out from MCA TV, who produce the series, said his was "a rustic apartment" in Hollywood.

The description intrigued me: after all, all around Hollywood there are hills and canyons with some of the most luxurious homes in the world; homes of every description--Spanish haciendas, ranch houses, Colonial mansions, modern bungalows.

You name it, Hollywood has got it. So I asked Ben to tell me more.

"Actually, that's not true," said Ben, who is as laconic as he appears in the TV series, "It's a plastic Hollywood--built around the universal swimming pool.

"Just two rooms--that's all I've got. It's fully furnished for 140 dollars a month, including service--and that's cheaper than living in London I believe.

"That's something people don't understand about me. I've never gone for any of these Hollywood status symbols.

"I've got the same car--a Chevrolet Impala--that I've had for the past six years. It's a good car, and has served me well, so why change it?

"And I'm still living in the same small apartment that I had when I moved to Hollywood four years ago--but that's all I need, so why should I move?

"People can't understand that about me. They think that when you're in Hollywood and working in films or TV you should be always moving into new houses, and buying bigger cars."

His different approach may be because Ben was a late entrant to the acting business. He was born in the sleepy town of Jonesboro, Arkansas on March 6th, moving to Clarendon Hills, Illinois (near Chicago) with his parents when he was eight.

His mother and father are still there, running their own dress shop and bringing up his younger brother Timothy (15).

Ben worked in that shop for a time, but he didn't know what he wanted to do. So he decided to educate himself--working during his holidays to pay for himself through university.

Or, in his case--EIGHT different universities.

That was the number he went to over a period of nine years, eventually obtaining a degree in political science from the University of Illinois, and another in drama from the Pasadena Playhouse in Los Angeles.

He took every kind of job to pay for his accommodation during term-time.

"My first job was as a caddie in a golf course for three dollars a bag. The trick was to carry two bags round the 18-hole course; then you got six dollars a round--plus tips.

"After that I got a job at Dubuque in Iowa selling women's shoes. It was awful--you'd get these farmer's wives in from the fields with dirty feet, and you had to sell them shoes.

"That summer I loaded pies on trucks in a Chicago ghetto area, and I was the only white guy working there. After the following term, I went down to New Orleans and worked as secretary to a priest who was involved in Civil Rights.

"Then the following summer, I loaded pies again--but for a different company in a hillbilly area. Then I went down to Mexico and loaded pies again!

"I decided it was time I did something other than load pies, so I answered an ad to be a magazine subscription salesman--and met this guy at a motel.

"He offered me the job, and I thought about it, and next morning told him I didn't want it, and POW--he punched me straight in the stomach. He was an ex-Marine, and apparently he felt so insulted that someone should turn down his job without even trying it.

"I turned tail and decided to stick to pies after that!"

Had he ever seen violence on other occasions?

"Only in the boxing ring at college, and learning karate--I studied that for a year."

Despite his rugged image, Ben is really a sensitive soul, as I discovered when the conversation turned again to the two girls in his life.

"They just walked out on me," he said. "And it hurt, it hurt so bad that I cried.

"I'm very well aware of the ego, hurt pride bit, but what hurt was losing someone I cared for. I really felt a loss--I'd lost someone I liked and trusted. And that hurts more than ego.

"But I realise now that I was very lucky it happened in both cases. I was able to pick up the pieces, and become a better person in terms of my own life.

"It all worked out for the best, I suppose; with the first girl, it wasn't right because I was too young; and in the other case, the girl wasn't mature enough.

"It hurt then, but I realise that I was better off without her, I've learned a lot since then.

"Now I'm looking for someone to love--and I'm mature enough to make sure it lasts this time--whoever and wherever she is."

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