The cast and crew stood around nervously while the producer of "Alias Smith and Jones" read the announcement that had just come from the ABC executive offices. The show was to be canceled at mid-season, and the announcement came just as they were wrapping up the last day of shooting on the last episode.
Roger Davis and Ben Murphy, the two stars of the show, took the news best of all. Actors learn to adjust to the ups and downs of the profession. They spent the rest of the day reminiscing about the run of the show and trying to cheer up their fellow co-workers.
Photo Caption: THE LATE PETE DUEL was the original Smith on TV's "Smith & Jones."
"Alias Smith and Jones" had been good for both of them. While getting a chance to perfect their craft, they each gained audience recognition through their weekly visits into the living rooms of millions of viewers.
Ben had been with the show from the time it had just been an idea in the producer's mind. The concept of the show, that of two reformed outlaws; delighted him. The story possibilities were limitless.
An extremely easy-going guy, Ben got along with everyone on the huge crew that worked on the show. He was especially close with Peter Duel, the original Smith, who tragically committed suicide just a year ago. Fortunately, for all concerned, Ben and Roger, Peter Duel's replacement, established a great rapport both on screen and off.
Ben remembers reporting for work on the series and not knowing how to ride a horse. After two weeks of eight-hour days on horseback, Ben was ready to take on The Lone Ranger!
Photo Caption: ROGER DAVIS took over the role of Smith after Pete's tragic death.
The great jokes that often kept the whole set in hysterics were almost always pulled by Ben. He is a born practical joker, and one of the qualities he looks for in his friends is a good sense of humor.
For Roger Davis, former University freshman English instructor, "Alias Smith and Jones" has been a unique and thoroughly pleasurable experience. Although he had some regrets about replacing Peter Duel in the series, be was quickly convinced he had done the right thing by the way the fans of the show overwhelmingly accepted, him in the role.
Although he started the series with a moustache, studio executives decided he would have to shave it off as they felt it made him look too sinister. At the same time, they encouraged Ben to grow a moustache to make him look a little less like Paul Newman, for whom, everyone agrees, he is a dead ringer.
Roger has many memories of the show. He remembers that they surprise partied him on the set for his birthday last year. And was he surprised when they wheeled in a huge birthday cake in the shape of a cowboy, complete with ten-gallon hat and spurs on his boots.
Photo Caption: BEN MURPHY still smiles, through his TV series was just cancelled.
Etched in his mind forever are scenes of 7:00 A.M. makeup calls where his still-droopy eyelids would be woken up at the sight of a cupful of black coffee, lunches in the studio commissary with Ben where they would flip a coin to see who picked up the check, and hot afternoons spent on the studio backlot where they filmed exteriors. Along with these memories goes the feeling of mutual respect and admiration between all the people involved in the show.
"Alias Smith and Jones" has
ceased production, but it is not dead. The spirit of the show
lives in the hearts of its fans, as well as those people who made
the show possible. While Smith and Jones have come to the end
of their brief careers, Roger Davis and Ben Murphy are just beginning
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