The coroner's office said an autopsy showed the cause of death was "consistent with a self-inflicted type of wound.
The body of the square-jawed 31-year-old actor was sprawled on the floor of the living room in his Hollywood Hills home at the foot of a brightly lighted Christmas tree.
His girl friend, Diana Ray, said she was in another room, heard a shot, and ran to the living room, where she found him dead.
Duel was shot in the ear by a single bullet which went thru his head, police reported. His snub-nosed .32-caliber revolver lay near the body.
Police were called by Miss Ray, 29, who said she had been dating Duel for about a year. Last night, she said, he invited her to his house and they watched his show on the American Broadcasting network.
Police reported that Miss Ray told them the actor had said he was despondent, apparently because he felt he had been drinking too much.
They said Duel had pleaded guilty to a charge of drunken driving last June 15 as a result of an auto accident on Oct. 24, 1970.
Most of Duel's friends were shocked and puzzled, Alan Cahan, publicist for Alias Smith and Jones, said, "He was an intense kind of guy. I saw him Christmas and he was excited because a TV movie which he had done for the educational channel was a success. His series had been renewed. He didn't seem unhappy."
Duel came from a prominent family in Rochester, N.Y. His father, Dr. Ellsworth Deuel (the correct spelling of the family name), is a third generation medical man.
Photo Caption: Actor Peter Duel's brother Geoffrey leaves Hollywood police station with Diana Ray [left], described as Duel's girl friend, and Jane Sogher, a friend of Geoffrey.
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