- INTERVIEW WITH DENNIS FIMPLE
- by Melody Cecko
- Peter Duel Remembrance Club, late 1980s
or early 1990s
- When I looked up Dennis Fimple, I half
expected Kyle Murtry. Dennis is no Kyle Murtry. Articulate and
polite be is very gracious in accepting compliments on his portrayal
of Kyle. When be speaks of his work on AS&J, he is honest.
Then I asked him what his favorite job was and it wasn't AS&J
it was his work on J.D. and the Saltflack Kid and Winterhawk.
I hid my disappointment (I hope).
- Dennis has been very active since his
days on AS&J; he has been in several feature films, King
Kong with Jessica Lange and Goin South with Jack Nicholson
among them, and countless television spots. Dennis also had a
recurring role on Matt Houston the first year and made
additional guest spots on this program in the second season as
well. Dennis just completed The Stallions, a feature due
in theaters this spring.
Genuinely fond of Peter, his feelings came across when he spoke
of his friend. He stated that "People that really knew him
loved him" and that Peter is still missed. When we spoke
about Peter and the events around his death it was very, very
difficult and hard to press such painful points. I tried to ask
the questions that have plagued me all these years though
not all--as we never would have gotten off the phone. I could
have "cleaned" up our interview, extracted the hesitations
and stumbles, but it would take the feeling of the interview
from you, the pain and the happy memories.
And so I offer the following interview and hope it is able to
answer some of your questions though we will never be able to
answer them all.
Did you like Alias Smith and Jones?
DF: Very much so.
MC: Did you like the character, Kyle, and were you typecast
in that role after AS&J?
DF: I liked being Kyle very much-yes. I was typecast to
MC: What kind of relationship did the cast have?
DF: Very good.
MC: Is that where you met Peter Duel?
MC: Did you enjoy working with Peter?
MC: When you did the pilot for the AS&J, did you know
it was going to be a series?
DF: Oh, yeah.
MC: Did you know Kyle was going to be a continuing role?
DF: Oh no, there was a faction of people in personnel
who wanted to have us as regulars, as the Hole in the Wall Gang
and you know that involved a number of people and so it became
a matter of economics and so we just recurred, we weren't under
MC: How long did it take to do your part for the episodes
you did? You were in 4 or 5 with Peter.
DF: The pilot was a week and a half...lets see (counting
to himself) ....5..6..7 yeah 7 to 10 days.
MC: Did you like the pilot?
DF: Yeah, I thought it was fun. I thought it was good.
MC: How were working conditions on AS&J?
DF: Yeah well conditions were good. It was just, uh, fast.
I mean I didn't find them really adverse. I've worked on other
things that were just as bad... I mean independent films, like
Creature from Black Lake. We did it in Shreveport in the bayous..
it was pretty colatious.
MC: Did the cast socialize?
DF: Yeah...periodically when we had time...doing an hour
show it was hard to get everybody together, you know with the
MC: What kind of hours were put in on this show?
DF: Oh Lord.. .we'd go 7 to 7.
MC: With looping afterward?
DF: Not always but often, pretty horrendous hours...and
anyway they were doing 'em.. back to back and doing two shows
at the same time--It was long hours.
MC: Did Pete and Ben get along?
DF: Uh, yeah, both of them were Pisces and uh...but they
were very different. Pisces can be the most emotional, is the
most emotional sign in the Astrological set up and....uh...they
weren't buddy, buddy it didn't seem to me, but they seemed to
get along fine.
MC: The show started filming right after Pete died....
DF: The day after.
- MC: Where
you surprised they recast that role so soon, or that they recast
the role at all?
DF: Uh, yeah.. I mean it just...that's Hollywood you know
I mean it was...I think we shot at 1 o'clock in the afternoon
and we were told that morning what had happened.
MC: Is that how you found out on the set?
DF: No, no, somebody, one of the people on the show had
called and told me--it was pretty shocking. I think my call was...
I was to be in at 8 in the morning or something like that and
they said to come in at one.. and shoot it right away.
MC: How would you explain Ben not attending the services
Well, I think...uh...like...Earl Holliman didn't either and other
people that were involved. I think what it was is that they felt
Peter knew how they felt about him so...they didn't find it really
necessary...then it becomes...you know when someone like that
succumbs it a...uh...you now it makes the news big and it becomes
a bs type thing.
Sort of carnival?
DF: Exactly, yeah.
Can you tell me about the last day? You were working that episode
DF: Well, it was about 7:30 at night and he and I were
gonna go see Clockwork Orange and...uh...I was going to get...we
were both, thought we were dismissed and ...uh...all of a sudden
he had to do some looping and he said, "Well, I can't go."
and I was... was just getting ready to leave and he said "Uh,
I've gotta go to looping, so I'll see you tomorrow." and
I said "I'm sorry, I wish you could've gone." ...and
then a few hours later it was ..but he was in good spirits....I
left him in good spirits.
MC: Is there any talk of Peter when you run into someone
DF: Oh yeah, we converse.
How are feeling about him now?
DF: He's missed, he was loved by the people who really
- MC: I've
yet to hear anything really bad about Peter. After all these
years. I think this really speaks for him.
DF: Oh yeah I....The only thing was his drinking. If there
was anything negative that was it.
MC: Did he talk to you about his alcohol problem?
DF: Oh yeah, Pete? Oh yeah...uh...we talked about it ....he
just felt that his...of all the things that people take alcohol
was the first. I mean he was never into drugs heavily to my knowledge,
but it was the alcohol that would switch his personality, so
MC: How so?
DF: It dulled his humor.
MC: Did he get depressive when he was drinking?
DF: Well, depressive and agressive--kind of sour on things.
MC: Did Pete ever seem confused to you?
DF: Uh, yeah, I think, I don't know if it was confused
maybe...maybe that he wasn't fully satisfied with what he was
doing in terms of what we were doing, you know it was like it
was a fantasy series type thing, a thing that...uh...it was like
for kids...I don't know. It wasn't as heavy, it didn't have the
dramatic asset that Smith and Jones had...Smith and Jones based
on real people, but um it didn't...it didn't in his mind, it
seemed like there was a conflict between his parents profession..
that of being doctors and he...I think maybe it was that he didn't
contribute, he felt he wasn't contributing what he could to society..
I don't know any other way to say it.
MC: Is that why he got into the ecological movement?
DF: Oh, yes...oh yeah...
He felt he wanted to contribute something?
DF: I think so...and he...he knew what was right. I mean
like at lunch we would have just..or at breakfast in the morning
you know doughnuts and coffe and he wanted to have juice and
(laughs) you know fruit and vegetables kind of thing that did
you good rather than lug you down...so he was aware of it very
MC: Peter has been described as down to earth and that
he cared about people.
DF: Oh, definitely...without question.
MC: Did he care too much?
DF: Yeah, he could have, I just always remember...you
know Pisces - are you familiar with astrological signs --
MC: Yes, I am.
DF: -- and its only a part of life I'm sure, but he was
extremely sensitive and sensitive to other people and their problems,
likes and dislikes..and that he could've been a little bit too
What stands out in your mind when you think of Peter?
DF: Of the times he and I spent together on Topanga Beach,
in Topanga.. and at his house, especially. Alone with me he was
MC: Is there anything you would like to add or share with
us before we close?
DF: I respected Pete and cared for him deeply - we never
did enough together as planned.
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