"Somebody had to take the part," said the Kentucky-born Davis.
"I think I probably have some guilt feelings attached to something good happening to me as the result of a friend' s death. Anybody would feel that way. I just wish it weren't necessary."
Duel killed himself New Year's Eve. Jan. 1 Universal Studios located Davis at Aspen, Colo., and asked him to return to Hollywood and stand by. ABC and Universal quickly decided he was their man. Sunday Davis was in wardrobe. Mondya he was before the cameras.
Ironically, Davis and Duel were close friends.
"I had seen Pete in the show the night he killed himself," Roger said, a note of sadness in his voice. "I'd been over to his house three weeks earlier.
"We'd gotten to know one another very well when we did a television movie that was supposed to be a pilot for a new series two years ago. It was 'The Young Country.' We've been friends ever since."
Davis, a straightforward man, still lapses into the present tense when talking about Duel. Davis was graduated from Columbia University and holds a Masters Degree in English Literature from UCLA.
"My first period of adjustment came on the airplane on the way back from Aspen," Davis said.
"But once I had made the decision to go ahead there was time to think whether what I'd done would be difficult for me to live with. They'd already shot three-quarters of an episode and threw it all away."
Davis is no newcomer to television or motion pictures. He's played lead roles on the tube and was, in fact, a guest star last year on "Alias Smith and Jones" playing a heavy.
For the last three years he has made his permanent home in New York City where he earned a six-figure annual income making voice-over commercials. You heard him but you didn't see him.
He is a warm, dignified man who gives the impression of being a straight-shooter. Clearly he has courage. His decision to step in for Peter Duel was not an easy one.
He will be judged Feb. 3 when his first
episode in the show is aired.
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