TV Movie Pin Ups, October 1971

LIKE MANY modern Americans, Pete Duel is very concerned with what's happening to the environment of this country. But unlike many of the others, it's not just a phase he's going through. Pete didn't jump on the bandwagon because every other Tom, Dick and Harry were doing it. Ecology has always been important to him--he's been frustrated about pollution, noise and over-crowded cities since he was a small boy.

"We've gotten ourselves into a really tough situation now," he says. "We've all sat back and enjoyed our easy and carefree non-returnable, super-amplified society without ever thinking about the damage we're causing ourselves. I know it's hard to change, but we just have to."

Pete always tries to do his share in the fight for a better environment. He's become very aware of the little things people can do to cut down on waste and he's done quite a bit of reading on the subject of pollution.

"I've learned a few very interesting things from some of those ecology paperbacks," he says. "Everybody should get into them and find out what it's all about and how they can help."

Pete first developed his interest in nature and ecology when he was very young. As soon as he could walk, his father introduced him to camping and hiking. Pete was very lucky to be able to grow up in small country towns [sic] with lots of woods and fields surrounding it where he could play and learn about the outdoors.

"It was really a great place to grow up in," he recalls. "But then they started building subdivisions. You see, at that time there was very little interest in preserving the environment," he
continues, "probably because people felt that things had to change and that opposing change was opposing progress."

Pete was really annoyed by the whole idea of builders coming with their bulldozers and tearing down the fields and woods he loved.

"I really hated the people who bought the new houses, too," he adds, "because I thought they were the ones responsible. Now I know the people weren't to blame. You can't criticize them for wanting to move out of the big cities and into a place like Penfield, New York. Actually, since it was an early development, the houses are nice. There are lots of trees, and it's turned into a lovely community. It's just not a country town anymore.

Pete isn't all that happy about having to live in a city now himself. His career demands it, of course, but when city living gets to be too much for him, he just takes off for the wide open spaces in his four-wheel drive truck with camping unit attached.

"I didn't even come to Hollywood on a jet plane," he says proudly. "I drove across the country. And I didn't stop at motels, either. I had a simple pup tent and I just put it up whenever I was tired."

Pete's first trip across country did contain one big disappointment, though. He was really looking forward to seeing the Rocky Mountains and enjoying a few days of some good camping there. The day he arrived, it was raining, so he decided to set up his tent, dig trenches around it in the approved fashion and wait the rain out. But after ten soggy days, he gave up and started on to California, never really even seeing the Rockies because of the overcast.

Now Pete finds the unchanged natural beauty he likes so much in the rough and rugged High Sierras. He spends quite a bit of his free time in these mountains and is even considering buying a piece of land there.

"I found the most gorgeous spot just above Sonora, California," he says. "It's in a section of the Sierras known as the Mother Lode country. It was probably pretty inhabited during the gold rush days, but now there are no people living there for miles around."

Pete visits his 20-acre dream-land as often as he gets the chance and hopes to make it his own in the not-too-distant future. The area is completely surrounded by national forest land and he describes the air, the view and the seclusion as fantastic.

"The only problem with the property," he continues, "is that it's so high up--8,500 feet--and gets so much snow that it's only accessible for six months out of the year. Once last winter when I went up I had to walk the last three miles."

Pete believes buying the land might seem a little silly to people who don't understand his love of nature. He's already had some tell him not to waste his money on a place he can only get to half the year. But Pete doesn't intend to let anyone stop him if he makes a definite decision to buy. If he doesn't mind trudging through the snow, why should other people mind?

"I really need a place like that to escape to," he admits. "It kind-of reminds me of back home in Penfield although it's a lot more rugged. The idea is still the same, though. It's a quiet, untouched and really natural spot."

But Pete knows he can't always escape the hustle and bustle, noise and pollution of the city. He has his responsiblities [sic] and obligations and sometimes he just has to sit tight in his Hollywood apartment and put up with city dwelling. Meanwhile, though, he continues to fight his own private battle to save the environment.

Photo Caption: Pete Duel's not the only TV star who enjoys outdoor life. Ben Murphy, his co-star in "Alias Smith & Jones," loves camping, too.

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