March 3: I got a job within an hour of flying in. Rushed over to Universal for fitting in western gear for "Alias Smith and Jones," with Peter Deuel....
On my first morning of work I was sitting in a makeup chair on the Universal back lot when suddenly a pair of hands covered my eyes.
"It's the big whale, come to spout on you again!" said Peter. He lifted me high in the air and we hugged joyously.
It was divine to be working together again,
as we laughed about old times. But soon Peter admitted he was
unhappy about the mediocrity of the show. At first I thought he
was overreacting, but as the week wore on, I began to see what
March 6: On the set of "Alias S & J" the director came up to me right before a take and said, "I'll give you the name of a doctor in Santa Monica who can fix those crow's-feet around your eyes...."
I was taken aback. I was just about to go on camera. It was one of the most insensitive remarks I've ever heard.
Every hour a trolley carrying a tour group drove by the set, with a guide barking through a megaphone: "And here, folks, is an episode in the making of 'Alias Smith and Jones,' starring Ben Murphy and Peter Deuel. Today they are joined by guest star Judy Carne, the 'Sock it to me' girl!"
Each time this happened, the director told us to freeze in our places, and we'd have to wait until the trolley was well out of sight before we could resume acting. I'd look at Peter and see him shaking his head in frustration.
Peter came over to my house that weekend and told me he was seriously depressed. He described feelings that were all too familiar to me, like lost confidence and lack of purpose. I insisted he take a drive with me to a special place. I wouldn't tell him where; I simply played some Ravi Shankar music in the car to relax him.
I drove to the Self-Realization Foundation near Malibu Beach, a beautiful shrine of Indian mystics with a tranquil lake, exotic gardens, and hypnotic sitar music emanating from speakers around the grounds. I'd been going there for years. "Every now and then," I told Peter, "when I feel incomplete and insecure, I come here to clear my head."
As we wandered around, he was wide-eyed, like a child, watching the ducks float gracefully along the lake. "It's so beautiful here," he said, smiling, "it makes me feel like a jerk to be depressed."
By the end of the day we'd talked out
our anxieties and Peter was sounding positive. I was glad that
our visit to SRF had cheered him up. But still, I noticed a sad,
faraway look in his eyes. When we said good-bye that day, I left
with a strange feeling of concern for his emotional well-being.
March 16: Recap: Party all day at my house. . . . About 65 people were in and out. Flip was into heavy raps, Peter Deuel was super fun, Sally Kellerman brought Bob Altman, Lou Adler, and some of the cast of "Brewster McCloud"--interesting. Burt Schneider showed, also Bob Rafelson. I met Barry K., Jr., son of the famous actor. Intriguing . . . we got on well together.
Cass arrived later, with Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys. Bruce played beautiful piano and we had a super sing-along ranging from old Beach Boys hits to even a few Boy Friend songs, with Cass. Rod Stewart joined us. A divinely degenerate little Englishman . . . very interesting. It ended at 5 A.M.
My New Year's optimism was shattered that day by a phone call from Henry Gibson, telling me that Peter Deuel had been found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, beneath the Christmas tree in his Hollywood Hills home. I was devastated--we'd only recently worked together. "Judy, he wanted to be buried at SRF," Henry told me.
I wept, recalling the time I'd first taken him to the Self Realization Foundation. I knew he'd been depressed about his work; his standards were so high that any form of mediocrity gave him an overwhelming feeling of futility. He'd point to his lines in the script and say, "It's all so meaningless."
Peter carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. He was deeply affected by news stories involving any form of tragedy or suffering. He was always asking, "What can we do?"
Peter had helped me through a difficult
time in my life. My only consolation was that I'd helped him find
a moment of peace that day at SRF. Hollywood lost a brilliant
actor and I lost a loyal friend. I shall never forget him.
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