"I'm settling down now--my goals and values have changed." The was All-American Boy Ben Murphy talking in his new condominium home in Malibu, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Looking fit and bronzed in his blue-jeans and T-shirt, handsome Mr. Murphy showed me around his new home, apologizing for the lack of furniture, but he'd not long moved in and hadn't got around to such domestic matters. He chose Malibu to be free from the Los Angeles smog and where he could enjoy an open-air life with jogs along the beach each morning and tennis games at the nearby club. "If I have one passion," he grins, "it's tennis." But indoors his home looks comfortable and 'lived-in'--there were boxes of books, bicycle parts, lifting-weights, and a few bits and pieces around--plus a large sette covered with a Mexican blanket.
Ben disappeared kitchenwards to make some herb-tea while I looked around. He is busy starring in the new Universal-MCA Television series "Gemini Man" as Sam Casey, a special agent and trouble-shooter for Intersect, a world-wide "think-tank" designed to deal with matters of international security. As a researcher he has been exposed to nuclear radiation of an unknown order that has left him with the power to appear and disappear at his own discretion. With it comes a deadly time factor that threatens to cause the Gemini Man to disintegrate if he attempts his invisible condition beyond 15 minutes.
It took some time for Ben to select "Gemini Man" as his next project; he has been under contract to Universal Studios for eight years now and "Alias Smith and Jones," which brought him such fame, has long since finished--so too has "Griff" and other television shows he has done. But Ben has been happy, he gets paid whether he works or not and he has quickly become acclimatized to a life of leisure, and seemed far more interested in his tennis than in an acting career.
Ever since "Smith and Jones" days, Ben has had the reputation with the ladies: the label of being the Greatest Lover In The World, which he's fast trying to live down. But that long-ago and not-to-be-forgotten nude photographic spread in a magazine didn't help matters.
"I may have been a bit of a rogue, but that's no skill to be proud of," he feels today. "I would be much prouder of myself if I grew up to be a nice, good husband and father and if I could say that I'd raised another human being to the best of my ability; of that I would be proud," he said sincerely as he brought two steaming mugs of tea into the living room.
"I don't even date much any more," he said as he sat down on the sette next to me, "with the TV series it takes up all my time. Besides I'm tired of running around, I want to spend more time at home getting work done. I've just spent the last two or three years just wasting my time."
"When I first started filming "Smith And Jones", I cut up a lot: boozing and balling. I could then go out all night, whooping it up, then crawl into the studio bleary-eyed next morning and do my job," he admitted. For Ben's original co-star, Pete Dual [sic], the whole thing was too much and he took his own life. But Ben Murphy's memories of his friend are still very fond, "When Pete was alive we would crawl in half awake in the morning on set--we encouraged each other in this wild, crazy way of living as if each day were the last. Luckily, the series was kind of loose and because of the chemistry between us we could get through the day in that state--and it worked for us. We had chicks of all types and sizes following us everywhere. We could do no wrong."
"But, now, at the ripe old age of 34 I can no longer do those things," Ben grinned. "Now when I'm filming, I cut everything else out of my life. I retire at 10 p.m. as I have to be up at 6 am. on a 12-hour schedule. It's a grind; I hibernate. If I see anyone, it's between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.--chicks, too! It's a discipline I've had to develop. In those past years I learned the hard way."
But with his new-found discipline, husky-looking Ben has also found different incentives in his life: he's fast losing interest in his acting career.
"I'm not walking away from acting," he explains, "because it's the way I make my living, but it's not important to me now, that's all. And I can honestly say that I don't do it for the public approval--the security of the job (the pay check!) is what I need. I can always get another job and be successful; but this is such a nice job, and it leaves me so much freedom to play tennis and roam around the world. Also I have the chance to make really big money without persuing [sic] a twenty-year career as a lawyer or a doctor would have to do. So, I've gotten rather lazy."
Ben shrugged his shoulders and reached for his mug of tea. And so with his new show, "Gemini Man," he wishes it well and works hard to make it good, "...but to be quite honest, if this show is a success," he told me, "I'll happily retire forever...
"I like living her at Malibu," he began, changing the subject, "and I come into town only when I really have to. I have a Girl-Friday called Randy who's on call whenever I need her to come in and clean and tidy for me--or type letters, mend, iron for me."
He excused himself and went into the upstairs bedroom to change, and back he came in a minute pair of denim shorts that made his eyes look bluer than blue. He grinned and retrieved his mug of tea. And all this domestic chatter sounded so very different from the wild, playboy image Ben Murphy, bachelor, has had over the years. A very physical man, he keeps an eye on his weight, exercises constantly, and sees to it that his Body Beautiful is permanently a deep, golden tan. His name was always in the gossip columns linked with beautiful women. "...the years change you," he says today, now a quieter man. "I like women, sure, and enjoy them wherever I go. But I prefer to be foot-loose and fancy-free now. And I'm going into different directions; I'm not giving up acting completely, like I said, but gone are the days of Teenage Celebrity, Hero or whatever. That was a nice period of my life, and I suppose that as long as I'm useful to Universal they'll continue to employ me.
"And that Playboy image..well it's crazy when you consider that as a kid I was taught that fancy kissing was a mortal sin, and anything else much worse! And I suppose it all started when girls follow the TV shows and call you at the studio--it's all very flattering. But the crazy thing is...I don't really understand women. Girls? Yes, I'm an authority on, maybe, getting them into bed and things like that," Ben admitted. "But I just don't understand femaleness that much. I love it and appreciate it, but I don't understand it.
"I guess," Ben Murphy said slowly, "I don't have a great deal of respect for women on the whole. I think most women waste their potential; they're pampered. I'm not your perfect Liberated Male, but I do feel superior. I believe in Women's Freedom, but as a male, I feel infinitely superior. There are ladies in this world that could teach me a million different things, but to that average female I feel superior."
Ben Murphy was rummaging in his kitchen cupboard and came back unwrapping a home-made fruit-cake his loving Mum had sent all the way from Arkansas. He cut off large slices and offered me some as he talked.
"I guess I'm just happy in my male-ness. And I do hope to marry one day," he went on. "And I wouldn't expect my wife to stay in the kitchen all day. Heck no. I should like to be in a financial position to free her of all that. Because quite frankly, when I get married it's because I want to spend time with the girl. So I assume I would marry someone who liked the same things as me--tennis, skiing--and do all those things with me. I don't want her to have to take care of the kids, either--we'd have a nanny for that. Someone to take care of them and love them, and they'd respond in kind. That doesn't mean all the time, but kids and parents shouldn't always be together. You should each have your own domain.
"I can't imagine not getting married eventually. I get very lonely. I need people around. Besides," he grinned again, "I'm not domesticated. I don't cook at all. I eat out all the time. And I should like to have a wife cook for me. So you see," Ben Murphy smiled and showed those perfect white teeth that set off his suntanned face, "I'd need a very loving wife to cook and care for me in my old age. Besides, I like women too much to live without them. I love women and I have enjoyed them the world over. And it's one of the perks of my job, isn't it? What other career would pay me handsomely to lie around in the sun, play tennis and persue [sic] girls as I do? When I was a kid I wanted to be a baseball player, then I decided I wanted to travel, and yet I needed the security of a nice way of living. Then I thought--to hell wit it I'll just be a bum.
"Well, now I make a nice living,
wanting for nothing, and I travel all over for location. I'm a
highly-paid Bum: I got just what I wanted."
Back to Articles List