He tells Rosemary Lord why he's become "a bit of a recluse"
by Rosemary Lord
Photoplay Film Monthly, December 1976
"I'M settling down now--my goals and values have changed." This was All-American Boy Ben Murphy talking in his new condominium home in Malibu, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Looking fit and bronzed Mr. Murphy showed me around his new home apologising for the lack of furniture--but he'd not long moved in and being so busy at work he had not got around to such domestic matters.

Ben chose Malibu to be free from the Los Angeles smog where he could enjoy an open-air life with jogs along the beach each morning and tennis-games at the nearby club. "If I have one passion," he grins, "it's tennis." But indoors his home looks comfortable and 'lived-in'--there were boxes of books, bicycle parts, lifting-weights and a few bits and pieces around--plus one large settee covered with a Mexican blanket.

Ben Murphy is currently starring in the series Gemini Man as Sam Casey, a special-agent and trouble-shooter for Intersect, a worldwide 'think-tank' designed to deal with matters of international security. As a researcher he has been exposed to nuclear radiation of an unknown order that has left him with the power to appear and disappear at his own discretion. With it comes a deadly time factor which threatens to cause the Gemini Man to disintegrate if he attempts invisibility beyond 15 minutes.

It took quite some time for Ben to select Gemini Man as his next project; he has been under contract to Universal Studios for eight years and Alias Smith And Jones--which brought him such fame has long since gone, so too has Griff and other television shows he has appeared in. But Ben has been happy he gets paid whether he works or not, and he had quickly become acclimatised to a life of leisure--and seemed far more interested in playing tennis than in his acting career...until Gemini Man came along.

"I seem to have spent the last two or three years wasting my time," he revealed. "Just running around instead of doing something I could be proud of. I remember all that time back when I first started filming Alias Smith And Jones, I cut up a lot--whooping it up all night, then I'd crawl into the studio bleary-eyed next morning and do my job."

Ben's memories of his late friend and co-star Pete Duel are still very fond, "When Pete was alive we would crawl in half-awake in the morning on set--we would encourage each other in this wild, crazy way of living as if each day were the last. Luckily that series was kind of loose and because of the chemistry between us we could get through the day OK in that state and it worked for us.

"But now, at the ripe old age of 34 I can no longer do those things," Ben grinned, "Now the TV series takes up all my time and when I'm shooting I cut everything else out of my life: I retire by 10pm as I have to be up at 6am for a 12-hour schedule. It's a grind--I hibernate. And if I see anyone it's between 8pm and 10pm. It's a discipline I've had to develop. In those past years I learnt the hard way."

With his new-found discipline Ben Murphy has also found new incentives in his life: he's fast losing interest in his acting career. "I'm not walking away from acting," he explains, "because it's the way I make my living; but it's not important to me now, that's all. I can honestly say I don't do it for the public approval: the security of the job--the pay cheque--is what I need. I can always get another job and be successful; but this is such a nice job and it leaves me so much free time to play tennis and roam round the world. Also I have the opportunity to make really big money without pursuing a twenty-year career as a lawyer or doctor would have to do--so I've got rather lazy," he confessed.

Ben hopes that this new series will give him new inspiration--he wishes the series well and works hard to make it good, "...but to be quite honest: if this show is a success," he told me, "I'll be happy to retire from acting forever...

"I like living here at Malibu," he said, "and I come into town only when I really have to for work. I do have help here: I have a Girl-Friday, called Randy, who's on-call whenever I need her to come in and clean and tidy for me--or type letters, mend, iron for me. And so I have become a bit of a recluse," he says. "I don't even date much any more. I'm tired of running around. I want to spend more time at home, enjoying my home, getting work done.

"I can't imagine not getting married eventually," he says. "I really need people around--I get lonely; and I'm not domesticated in any way. So you see," Ben grinned, "I'd need to have a very loving wife to cook and care for me in my old age. Besides, I like women too much to live without them. I love women, and have enjoyed their company the world over. It's one of the perks of the job, isn't it? What other career would pay me handsomely to appear in a series that I enjoy doing and then give me plenty of free time in between jobs to lie around in the sun,play tennis and pursue the good things in life as I do?"

His romantic interest in the series is computer expert Abby Lawrence, played by pert Katherine Crawford. The daughter of television's successful producer Roy Huggins, and the wife of MCA-Universal Television's President Frank Price, Katherine came to Britain at the age of 17 and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. On her return to America she appeared in such Universal productions as Ellery Queen, Marcus Welby and The Sam Sheppard Murder Case before being signed opposite Ben.

Completing the trio is a face that is very familiar to British viewers: William Sylvester. A native of Oakland California, he plays Leonard Driscol.

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