by Jim Bell
Screen Stories, September 1972
There's a time for work and a time for fun...and fun for Ben Murphy is a six letter word--female...

The story is that Ben Murphy fell out of his crib reaching for a pretty nurse when he was only days old. But is he really the wolf he's made out to be?

We know he's been seeing girl after girl after girl. His name's been linked with half of Hollywood's loveliest ladies. When they're out with a handsome charmer like Ben, you can bet they neither shun the spotlight--nor go unnoticed by the columnists!

Ben's as talented as he is handsome. A bachelor with a couple of degrees and graduate credits in Physical Education as well as Theater--to say nothing of that come-hither look in his eye and enough just plain primal appeal to make Tom Jones and Burt Reynolds look to their laurels.

His screen credits include The Graduate, Yours, Mind and Ours (with Lucille Ball) and The Thousand Plane Raid, as well as the Joe Sample in Name of the Game. And all of that was before he became Kid Curry on Alias Smith and Jones. If all that talent, those gorgeous brown locks and a pair of just-like-Paul Newman blue eyes isn't enough date-bait, consider that Ben is also a swimming, tennis, skiing, and horseback-riding buff--and has the he man muscles to prove it. Women go for Ben Murphy all right.

But what about all the innuendos? We went to Ben himself to get the straight goods.

He confessed that he likes women, "All women".

So if you see him with a luscious blonde one night, a captivating redhead the next--and with a beautiful buxom brunette for lunch the same day, don't bet it's one woman with a wig wardrobe. You'd lose.

Photo Caption: Wildly handsome Ben Murphy had his eye on pert Judy Strangis for ages. When she finally said yes to a date he celebrated!

And don't bet any of them is Judy Strangis, either. He and Judy are good friends--(we introduced them) in fact. Much as they enjoy each other's friendship, date mates they aren't.

"I'd like to date Judy Strangis," Ben told me seriously, "but she's such a nice girl." And darned pretty, too.

Ben Murphy is a cross between Paul Newman and Ryan O'Neal. He's heard the first part of that description most of his life. When he finally met Newman (he was 16 by then) he was so tongue-tied he couldn't say a word.

"I couldn't open my mouth," he grins. But opening his mouth has not exactly [the next line is chopped off] ...series. Ben's not reticent. He admits he hasn't read all the stuff that's been written about him, but he was only mildly surprised to find that often as not, he comes off sounding like a very sexy guy with a one track mind. ("That's not going to help me for future dates, is it?" was his reaction.)

As a matter of fact, Ben doesn't beat around the bush on any subject. He'll tell you happily that he's a health food buff whose kitchen alcove is used mainly to toss together a concoction of protein powers, liquid vitamin C, wheat-germ oil, pineapple-coconut base and soybean powder--all blended with buttermilk--and gulped down without batting an eyelash for an early morning eye-opener. Nor does he pass lightly over the Vitamin E--and you know what that'll do for you.

Photo Caption: First stop was an ice cream parlor. Ben couldn't resist a heaping triple-decker cone.

He's concerned with what is and what isn't good for him. "I drink wine," he says, "but hard liquor, no. It's just not good for me." He's aware of the drug scene in Hollywood but he doesn't dig that, for much the same reason. "I'm anti-drug. I think people abuse drugs and they're really hurting themselves badly. I'm talking about all drugs, which includes aspirin. I want to live to be 120 years old, and be a wise old man some day, and you don't do that by taking drugs."

He seldom attends parties, "I'm just not a social animal." Ben is--and always has been--a loner, though he admits, "it's good for me every once in a while, to put on my smile and really care about talking to other people. It's therapy. I can deal with one person at a time--but with a group, no. Even at a party, I'm not good in a group."

In that respect, working in the series has been helpful. "It's forced me to maintain prolonged relationships with people--especially men--which I've never done in the past."

Photo Caption: Ben likes girls who are zesty and alive--qualities that Judy certainly has in abundance.

Unlike most actors, Ben hasn't always aimed toward show-business. "I really got into it out of the need for self-expression. Emotionally, I felt stagnant--out of step with people around me." He was 23 when he started acting, but his interest in girls began considerably before then, you can bet. "I was always interested in girls," he says, though that's not strictly true. He was really 12 or 13 before he gave them his full attention.

"I used to think I liked blondes," he admits, but that's not quite true, either. "I'm beginning to learn that I like all women." Then he summed it all up in three short words, "I love women."

At the ripe old age of 29, he's catching up--agewise--but he still finds older women "very interesting, though it's getting" harder and harder to find older women. Then he had a happy thought. "A woman in her thirties is still older than me," he pointed out. Actually, it's the "wealth of experience that's in a woman" that attracts him most. "Physically, she has to have a certain amount of appeal, of course. But it's in the face--in the hands--everything. The gentle experience that she's had. The mellowing that she's had. She's not just a woman, she's a girl-woman. A woman who still has a girl in her. She's still excited about life.

"That kind of woman has a beautiful balance," which, he adds, younger girls also have--if they're "very bright." There's only one kind of woman he really doesn't dig, "moody women". They're got to love life--and themselves--and converse with me, which they will if they like themselves," he says.

Photo Caption: The tiny bikini Judy spotted in a boutique wouldn't quite fit sturdy Ben.

"There's a girl that lives next door that's going to be a fantastic woman when she grows up. I just love to watch her grow up. She's very smart, very aware, very clever--and already a woman. Those are opposite poles in age--but they're really the same.

"I like girls who are independent," he grinned. "Men who are independent, people who are independent. I don't like someone dependent on me."

The familiar Alias smile twitched at the corners of his mobile mouth.

"How about affairs?" we asked.

"That's a kind of a funny word," he smiled. "Almost passe. Affair applies in a longer period of time than I've ever had with anyone."

There was one very special girl who stays in Ben's memory, and her name was Jenny. "I treasure knowing her," he says. "She was a tender, beautiful person. One of those people who just glows. We had a lot of fun growing up and traveling around Mexico together. We took off in my car; it was a valuable experience."

Photo Caption: They had time after the hectic day to relax and remember...

He'd been attracted, he said, by her "point of view about life. She had a joy for living, for all the beautiful things in life--which I was fairly callous to--up to that point. She turned me on to that."

But after eight or nine months--a long relationship for Ben--the idyll ended. "Just a case of me being immature," he says--and then, in answer to my question, "No, she didn't want to marry me. She was smart enough to know better than that," he grinned, though he told me she subsequently married. "It happens all the time with my relationships. A lot of my girlfriends up and get married. They'll tell me, 'Ben, I'm getting married!' I say, 'Out of sight!' though they may, he admits, have been having a thing going as recently as a week before.

"It's almost like I get to know people very, very quickly. Psychologically, I have to be loved by a lot of people. I need a universal love on a certain level--but not too deep," he said.

"Once a girl called me--it was a wrong number--and we started rapping on the phone. I said, 'I'll meet you at a certain restaurant at 2:30.' I met her--we had a groovy relationship."

"There aren't any half-way measures about Ben Murphy. He's a little bit like Pop Eye--"I yam what I yam." One thing. "I meet girls easier because I'm a celebrity," he said. "I could never pick up girls, you know?" he said. "I still can't. I don't know how. Most girls come after me."

Home, for Ben, is a two-room apartment, sparsely furnished. He's added a few basics, but it's still modest, furnished in what he calls "cheap motel plastic."

"When I've asked a date over to watch television or something, she takes one look at my apartment and figures I'm not good husband material." Which is about the way Ben figures it, too. His career is the important issue now. It precludes marriage, but it certainly doesn't rule out any female companionship.

"Sometimes I feel I should get married and have a typical family," he says. But he's not sure he's ready for that yet.

"It isn't my time for marriage," he says. Convincingly.

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