I've been told Pete started drinking heavily before the start
of the second season. Had you noticed if his acting had changed?
ML He was also drinking the 1st season. He was a drinker. He was drinking the 1st season, but Pete never came to the set drunk.
MC Do you think his attention span was shortened?
ML Well if it did it didn't show cause his memory for lines was as good as the first day I met him. He would go through lines with no problem. I mean long lengthy dialogue, long lengthy monologue. He could go through with no problem. Sure he was concerned about it. I think he was more concerned with his drinking and everything else he did than anybody else thought he was. But as far as his attitude goes, oh he got upset at a few assistant directors and a few cameramen sure, but that's standard procedure with any actor on any show.
Did Pete bring his dogs on the set a lot?
ML Oh yeah or kept them in his trailer.
What kind of place did Pete have? It was a small house wasn't
ML It was a small house. The inside was pretty good-a western motif. I was only there once. I went there to see Geoff. Geoff called me over to talk about the autopsy. I didn't really want to go, but he asked me to come over-so I went.
MC Did he identify Pete?
ML I don't know. I don't know who did the identifying. I stayed with Ben mostly, because he and Ben were pretty close and it crushed Ben pretty bad. Ben didn't go to the service for the simple reason-he couldn't. It crushed him real bad so he stayed home and stayed with the pain there. I was there and my wife and kids went into the services. I didn't. I did not go in the building. I stayed outside the building.
ML I can talk better outside to Pete and the fella upstairs. I didn't need to go inside there and have somebody tell me what he (Pete) was saying.
MC What do you think Pete would have thought of that whole mess?
ML He wouldn't have liked it at all. I don't think he would have liked it. I think Pete would have said, "Hey guys go out and have a beer on me."
MC Do you think so?
ML Most assuredly, I think so.
The press dwelled on the alcohol....
ML Believe me little darlin, I don't care who you are or what you do, if you have any problems at all a lot of times alcohol takes you away from the reality of it. Pete was no different than anybody else...than you or me. He loved dogs, he loved horses, he loved women and he loved his booze and I ain't no different and I'm sixty years old.
The press also stated that he was suicidal. Do you believe that?
ML No. Never believed that in my life and still won't believe it. They can say that all they want to. I'll never believe Pete was suicidal.
MC You believe his death was an accident?
ML Impetuous Pete was, he was now and again impetuous. I think it was an accident.
Dennis stated that the last day Pete worked he had to stay for
looping. How late did they usually stay for this? Who was involved
ML It's hard to say when Pete left to do the looping. I was still on the set. We were still shooting and we got done about 6:30 and then we all went home and the first time I knew that Pete had passed away was when I came through the gate. When Scotty the gate guard told me. He said, "You're not working today." and I said, "Why not?" He said, "Pete's dead " and that's the first time I knew it. I was driving' through the main gate at Universal.
MC Did you go on the set?
ML No. I parked my car and immediately went to the commissary. I walked in, sat down and ordered a beer. Jo Swerling came down and Ben came down and we all got together there. But everybody was pretty destroyed and then we still had to go to work that afternoon.
MC That's terrible. I understand you had to start at 1 pm.
ML That's right, and we had a 7:30 start in the morning.
MC What was the general feeling on the set?
ML They didn't want to do it. They wanted to stay down at least until after the memorial.
MC That was bad. The fans felt pretty bad that they would go on like that.
ML Yeah, we did. We worked 18 hours a day.
MC To get that episode finished?
ML Um hmm.
MC What were you working...what were you supposed to be working on that day?
ML We were up at the cabin with the Devil's Hole Gang that evening with Pete and Ben.
ML Yeah-we were doing a scene at the back lot with the Devil's Hole Gang-everybody was pretty destroyed at the time. If you look at the scene you can tell everybody was angry.
MC Was there any talk that they should have scrapped "The Biggest Game in the West"?
ML Oh yeah. There was a lot of talk about it. A lot of hostility. Remember when the Devil's Hole Gang was in the shack and Ben was there-Pete wasn't? Ben did that the same night Pete was killed.
MC Dennis was there, he had to work that Friday...
ML Oh yeah, he was there. Everybody was there.
MC Is that the scene they were supposed to shoot that day or was it rescheduled?
ML Nope. That's what they were supposed to be shooting.
MC ...just had them come in that day.
ML Shot anyway.
MC I see there is a backshot or Pete in this episode.
ML It wasn't Pete-it was me. I was doubling. When he walked away it was me walking away. All you gotta do is look at the legs.
MC Why is that?
ML They're a little bit more bowed.
MC From the horses?
ML Right. There were 2-3 of us that doubled Pete-that did a backshot. Everybody doubled Pete.
A lot of people didn't care for the chemistry after Roger took
over. Maybe it was too soon after Peter died.
ML Well there was a lot of hate and discontent on the show because they kept on shooting even after Peter passed on. We had Chills Wills on the show, they had to reshoot all the scenes that Pete was in and put Roger in it. It was quite heart breaking really and Ben was very upset about it. Ben got real upset about it. I remember the day Peter passed on. We were shooting on the back lot at Universal. Pete's trailer was up there and they hadn't even moved the equipment and I remember going up there with Ben and Ben cried like a baby up there. I remember that very specifically. It was quite a heart breaking thing the day Pete passed away.
What can you tell us about Geoff?
ML Well Geoff plays the horn...he was quite hostile right after Pete got killed. You know Geoffrey was quite hostile for awhile but I understand he's mellowed out real good. Don't get me wrong I love Geoffrey. I think I love him just as much as I did his brother, cause we understood each other. You gotta remember what I am. I am a stunt guy and an old person and I did crazy things. They liked that about me. That's why we got along. Me and Geoffrey got drunk many a time right after Pete got killed. For the first six months Geoffrey wouldn't talk to me on account of it. See what happened was...you gotta remember something ...Peter came to me. I bought Ben a gun. I deal in guns. I buy, sell, trade, repair. I'm also a gunsmith. Ben came to me and said, "Monty, I'd like to have a gun." I said "okay". Ben gave me the money and I went out and bought Ben a gun, right? Well Ben was legal, he could've bought a gun himself, you know, and had it 'registered in his name, but he would rather have me do it so I did it for him. So then Pete come to me and he said, "Monty, I'd like to have a gun. I'm having a little problem at the house, people trying to break in. I'd like to have a little protection at the house." I said "okay", so I took Pete down to a gun store and Pete picked out the gun. I bought the gun, had the gun registered in my name and after it cleared I brought it to the studio with a box of ammunition and gave it to Pete. I said "Here's your gun, now its yours-but the gun's registered in my name". So he gave me a bill of sale saying that I sold him dah-dah-dah-dah and that's the gun that killed Pete, that they found in his hand.
MC It was in his hand?
ML Yeah, well I've heard different stories. I really don't know. In his hand, laying next to him.... but it was there and that's what Geoffrey held against me. That the fact that the gun that killed him is the one I got him.
MC He could have gotten one anyway.
ML He could have gotten one anywhere. Hal Frizzell would have got him one.
About a month before he died Peter went to a Toys for Tots Telethon.
There was a picture taken of him with a gun to his head.
ML He had a tendency to do that.
MC Do you think that's what happened?
ML I think that's what happened. See when he was sitting in the make up chair Pete would take the gun and it was empty and he would go click, click, click and he'd click it up to his head. He'd click it out and around. I think it's exactly what happened. Pete, he had gotten drunk and was doing the same thing. The trouble is the gun he had at home was loaded. That's my personal opinion. That's the one I'm comfortable with. That's the one I think. He didn't commit suicide...that it was an accident.
Why was SRT chosen for the California services?
ML That was the girlfriend that he had.
MC Was Pete into that?
ML I don't know, me and Pete never discussed any religion or any of that kind of stuff.
I understand Ben doesn't like to talk about Pete.
ML No he doesn't. It really hurt Ben when Peter passed on.
MC I know it is hard for people to talk about.
ML I don't find it hard, because I remember Pete as he was. The good time Charlie that he was and the fun that we had. I don't remember the bad. The whole time I was around Pete I had fun.
Back to Articles List