Co-starring Pete Duel and Ben Murphy, "Smith and Jones" bowed in on the network as a midseason replacement Jan. 21. Work on the series hadn't started until Dec. 5 and the push to get the shows ready for airing in time had been exhausting.
"We suffered from the pressure," nodded Murphy, the young blond actor who plays Jed "Kid" Curry on the series. "Pete and I went into overdrive after a while. We were getting grumpy by the end."
But Murphy, relaxed after a 10-week vacation from the show, said that he enjoyed the pace.
"Certain corners had to be cut, of course. And there were always the last-minute tensions...But I love 'Smith and Jones.' I wouldn't want to be doing any other series. It pretends only to be entertainment, not social comment. I'm glad I don't have to mouth a lot of social comment. There's nothing phoney about it."
Comparisons of "Smith and Jones" to the enormously successful Paul Newman-Robert Redford film, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," continue. But they don't annoy Murphy, who also happens to look a little bit like Newman.
The show has had to lock horns with the most successful new show of last season, Flip Wilson. And Flip will be back again as competition in the fall along with a new action series from CBS called "Wheels".
"I've never been bothered by Flip Wilson. Having 'Family Affair' on CBS was tough, too. I'm going to be glad to get up against a new show on CBS. I think they're going to be in trouble."
Except for four pre-emptions for Tom Jones specials, "Smith and Jones" will continue all summer. ABC is hoping a lot of exposure will help the show find its audience. It will start its new season with a 90-minute special edition in a play for added attention.
"We really didn't deserve to return this fall. It's just that a lot of people believe in it."
For most of the last few years, Murphy has been a college student in both the U.S. and Mexico. Always intending to eventually get to Yale to graduate study, the Arkansas-born, Illinois-reared young man wound up at the Pasadena Playhouse for two years and then signed to a contract at Universal Studios.
For awhile, he appeared occasionally in the NBC "Name of the Game" series as a young reporter. He got roles in a few films, including playing one of the teenagers in the Lucille Ball-Henry Fonda comedy, "Yours, Mine and Ours."