Peter dropped in to our office recently to talk enthusiastically about the new television series he will star in, called Love on a Rooftop (ABC, 9:30, Tuesdays). Both the network and the sponsor have high hopes for this show, as, of course, does Peter himself.
The strapping six-footer is no newcomer to television, he was featured this past year as John Cooper on the Gidget show, and has played many other parts on virtually all the top-rated programs. He is a serious actor, although in other respects he gives the impression of easy-going good nature.
What's the new program about? According to Peter, it is a show depicting the trials and tribulations, humorous in nature, of a young couple, recently married, living on a shoestring in San Francisco. "It could be about any young couple," he said, "and we think viewers of all ages will find something to identify with.
'My wife is played by Judy Carne, a lovely young girl, who is a very fine actress. I know we'll get along beautifully. In fact, everyone connected with the show has been so nice and cooperative, they've really made me feel at home."
Peter was born in Rochester, New York, February 24, 1940 and was raised in nearby Penfield, NY. He came from a family of doctors--three generations before him had supplied members to the profession, and for a long time Peter was torn between his love for acting and the family tradition. He attended St. Lawrence College for two years, but then quit to enroll for acting lessons at The American Theater Wing in New York. By then he was committed to acting, and all dreams of becoming a doctor faded into oblivion.
His first break came with a minor role in a war film, Wounded in Action, which was shot in the Philippines and never released in this country. It got him a co-staring role in the national company of Take Her, She's Mine, with Tom Ewell, however, and that led in turn to many television guest shots.
The Gidget series convinced everyone of his star potential, and when Love on a Rooftop came along he was grabbed for the lead forthwith. Peter appeared to be the only actor who was tailormade for the role of David Willis, the struggling young architect.
Peter is a bachelor, which should make many a girl's heart flutter with hope. He lives in a small bachelor apartment in Hollywood. Someday he hopes to buy a house "back in the hills" where he can get away from the bright lights and have room to relax.
Peter dates frequently but as of the moment is not serious about anyone. He is definite about wanting to marry someday, however, and he also wants "lots of children." When it comes to the kind of girl he likes, Peter has some strong preferences.
"I like girls who are natural," he told us. 'The girl I'll marry will have to be unaffected. I like sincerity in anyone, but unfortunately don't find too much of it around. If I were to sum it all up in one word, I'd say that honesty was the most important quality anyone could have."
Peter is a great sports buff. He goes as often as he can to watch the Dodgers play at Chavez Ravine, and likes all other sports as well. He stays in shape himself, although he worried about losing "a few pounds" in time to start filming his series. For an active lad like Peter, this should not pose too much of a problem.
Peter is a "people watcher." He explained that he likes to take public transportation no matter where he is going because it gives him a chance to look at all the wonderful variety of faces that make up the human family.
Peter has no illusions about the "glamor" of stardom. "Acting is much harder work than most people realize," he said. "By the time we get done filming a day's sequence, I'm too bushed to do anything but go to bed early. After all, if I stayed up late, and then had to be on the set at eight the next day, I couldn't do the best job I was capable of.
"I love acting. But to me it is a profession, not a game. I want to be at my best all the time. If that cuts into the glamorous part of the profession it's okay with me. The show comes first."
Peter prefers dressing casually. One of his great joys is going barefoot. It is all part of his easy-going approach to life. In an ulcer ridden business where most performers suffer from hypertension and a constant strain, his relaxed manner is refreshing. Ironically, in Gidget, Peter played John Cooper as a stiff, formal, and not terribly likeable young man. This was quite a feat of acting, since Peter himself is exactly the opposite.
He would like to travel and loves New York, but is a committed Californian. The slower pace of the West Coast fits in with his personality.
Nobody can predict with much accuracy how any television season will be. There will be some flops, some successes. Peter's show appears to have a good chance of going all the way. But even if the show should fail, Peter will certainly come out of it with a great career ahead.
All good actors pray for their chance in the sun. Peter has his, and he's not about to muff it.
Photo Caption: Peter looks over copy of TV Photo Story with Editor David Levine during visit to office.
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