It was Roger Davis, ex-"Dark Shadow-er" and new Hannibal Heyes on ABC-TV's Alias Smith and Jones--and the one person in the world I was most curious to talk to at that moment! He said he was flying back to Hollywood in just a few hours, so we quickly arranged to meet at the recording studio where he was working that morning.
Recording studio?? Was Roger starting a new singing career?
No, not at all! When I arrived at the recording studio, Roger met me at the door with a big hello, then put his finger to his lips, for the studio technicians were starting a "playback" of the material he had just recorded. And suddenly Roger's voice emerged from the machines--doing the "voice-over" for some very sexy Guerlaine perfume ads!
As we left the studio after the playback, Roger explained that he's done voice-overs for radio and TV ads for almost 20 different products--including the one where he urges you to "use Close-Up toothpaste for that Close-Up smile!" And, long before he ever dreamed he would someday play Hannibal Heyes, he did the voice-over, that introduced the show each week.
Settled in the coffee shop of New York's Hotel Roosevelt for some serious eating and talking, I wondered to myself if Roger would mind my asking him about Pete Duel. But he solved that problem by bringing it up himself.
"Pete was a friend of mine," he said, "although people have exaggerated just how close we were. No one was that close to Pete. But a lot of things about Pete were exaggerated. For instance, I never saw him drunk, even though it's been said that he drank a lot. He was a talented actor who brought tremendous concentration to his roles. But we're all just actors playing roles. No one understood that better than Pete. I'm sure he wouldn't have minded my taking over his role."
Roger went on to blow away another rumor that had been floating around--that his friendship with Pete had had something to do with his being chosen to replace Pete in "Smith & Jones." Instead, it was Roger's appearance in similar types of roles in the movies River of Gold and The Young Country which had convinced the producers that he was the one who should be the new Hannibal Heyes.
Then Roger asked me to say thank you for him to all the FLIP-ers who've written him such nice letters. "I know it's hard to accept a new actor in a role, but they've been great!" he said.
All too soon it was time to go--Roger heading for the airport and Los Angeles, and me back to FLIP's offices and a typewriter!
And I found myself looking forward a lot
to the new season of Alias Smith and Jones!
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