EXPLORING THE PRIVATE LIFES OF BEN &
Teen World, December 1971
AN adventurer at heart, Ben's private life is packed with plenty of thrills and excitement. A restless kind of guy, it's hard for him to follow a routine schedule. With the first yawn of boredom, he's usually out the door and on his way (which may be one reason he attended five different colleges in the states of Iowa, Louisiana, Illinois, and California).
"Before I got into acting, I was constantly on the move. I thought nothing could compare to traveling," he says. "Being restless, I like waking in the morning and thinking that each day was really a new beginning for me."
Actually Ben's wanderings are both fun and educational. While he was attending college, he learned about the world through books, and after his graduation he got more knowledge through firsthand experience. Along the way he kept a record of his trip and of the zany characters he encountered. Now he has a scrapbook filled with a wealth of information. And since Ben is still traveling, it's still growing. The best part, however, is that he's writing a book so soon everyone can share in his fun on the road.
"In my free time, I like to write," he admits. "I have about a million scraps of information to put together. So between studying my scripts and organizing this book, I really keep the midnight oil burning."
When Ben does get a good night's sleep, however, he likes to wake up early on his free days and go for a morning swim in the ocean. Nothing relaxes him more. And after battling the waves, he enjoys recuperating in the sun for a few hours.-
"After a hard week of filming the series," he explains, "I like to unwind by stretching out on the beach and reading books by favorite authors like Jean-Paul Sartre and Kahlil Gibran. Of course, my favorite pastime is still watching the gulls flying overhead."
An excellent athlete, Ben has proven to a lot of surprised on-lookers that he can handle a pair of reins just as well off-screen as he can on. Since on weekends he can usually be found sitting on a horse, he certainly gets in a lot of overtime practicing his riding.
It's easy to see why Ben works up quite
an appetite by the close of one of his free days. Since he has
an outdoor barbeque at his San Fernando Valley apartment, he spends
many an evening standing in front of it cooking up a lot of steaks.
"I never worry about any slumps in my acting career because I know I could always find a job as a chef--my friends and neighbors have convinced me of that," he says with a grin. "After a few of them sampled my cuisine, I've suddenly become the most popular guy on the block--especially during the dinner hour."
UNLIKE some performers who radically change the way they live when they become stars, Pete Duel continues to live in a simple manner. Originally he called home a one-and-a-half room apartment perched on top of a garage--now he's moved to larger quarters that are a bit more rustic and a lot more suited to his nature-loving disposition. One quick glance about the place assures you that he keeps himself just as busy off screen as he does on. But his activities are quite different from those he engages in as a TV outlaw.
"My role as Hannibal Heyes isn't some kind of key to my true personality--it just isn't that simple. The best reflection of the real me is my home. Anyone who walks through the door immediately knows where I'm at. And I wouldn't have it any other way because I have nothing to hide."
One aspect of Pete's private life that can't stay hidden for long is his love for animals. He has three dogs--Shoshone, Champagne and Carroll--and an assortment of other pets. At times, in fact, his place looks like a animal shelter, especially when he returns home from a few days of camping in the woods.
"Quite a few of my friends tell me that I have the makings of a great veterinarian," Pete says. "I guess there's just no escaping it. There are six doctors in my family and I'm still carrying on the tradition, but with a different class of patients."
It's not an exaggeration to describe Pete's home as a temporary haven for most of the helpless strays that cross his path. Naturally, things do get a bit hectic. Occasionally he finds himself thinking about hiring a zoo-keeper. But he wouldn't want to live any other way.
In order to make sure he has enough energy for all his activities, Pete's very conscious of what he eats and concentrates on organic products such as wheat-germ oil, real banana molasses and brewer's yeast. Unlike the character he portrays on TV, he'll never eat just anything to kill his appetite or because it tastes good.
"It requires a lot of self control and discipline," Pete admits, "I've reached the point where I can say no to any food--no matter how delicious it smells or looks--if I think it's unhealthy."
Although Pete's acting career is surely
a healthy outlet for most of his creative energy, he still has
plenty to spare for other things. A true art lover, his walls
are decorated with many paintings--and quite a few happen to be
his own work. He's also a music and book lover with an enviable
collection of classical records and enormous stacks of books on
subjects ranging from nature to political science. No, easy-going
and nature-loving Pete would never make it with the jet set. But
he really doesn't want to.
"I really dig the simple pleasure in life," he says. "Whether I'm fishing or looking for relics in a ghost town, I know I'm doing exactly what I want with my time.
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