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.
MC: 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 a point.

MC: What kind of relationship did the cast have?
DF: Very good.

MC: Is that where you met Peter Duel?
DF: Yes.

MC: Did you enjoy working with Peter?
DF: Yes.

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 contract.

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 time.

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 for Peter?
DF: Well, I 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 know when someone like that succumbs it now it makes the news big and it becomes a bs type thing.
MC: Sort of carnival?
DF: Exactly, yeah.
MC: Can you tell me about the last day? You were working that episode with him.
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 he knew?
DF: Oh yeah, we converse.
MC: How are feeling about him now?
DF: He's missed, he was loved by the people who really knew him.
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 to speak.

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 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' 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...
MC: 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 he was aware of it very much so.

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 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 much.
MC: 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 relaxed.

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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