Screen Mirror, September 1971
One of last season's mid-year replacements was Alias Smith and Jones. And it's been a long time since a replacement show has received as much attention as this one! Its stars, Pete Duel and Ben Murphy, became--almost overnight--the hottest male stars on television. Of course there are still a few ahead of them, but for relatively new stars, these two have won wide acclaim.

One particular group of fans find Pete and Ben particularly to their liking. Got any ideas who they are? As you can well imagine, the group that's just wild about these two are the young girls! And a few not so young girls, right ladies? Pete and Ben, to put it mildly, are extremely handsome. They are dashing and fun and good to look at. The comparison has been made (much to the ire of Pete Duel) to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Well, they are those kinds of heroes--sort of outside the law, trying to go straight, or pretty straight, riding horses and outriding the posses and the young ladies who invariably fall for them. That's how it is on their show and except for the posses that's how it is for them in real life!

Neither Pete or Ben are in any hurry to settle down, though. They like living free and easy and they like the kind of life they have right now! Both Pete and Ben are the out-of-doors type of guys. They like the wide-open spaces and time to be alone and think about things. Ben Murphy has travelled the length and breadth of the United States and has filled more than a few scrapbooks with his impressions. Ben hopes to write a book someday! Along with travelling Ben likes horseback riding, tennis, swimming and skiing.

Pete Duel is just as interested in the active life as Ben. His very favorite way of getting places is in his four-wheel-drive camper. Even if Pete is going cross-country he will choose the camper over any other type of transportation. Pete is thinking of buying property in the High Sierras so he can enjoy the unspoiled natural beauty of the land up there.

Both Pete and Ben are hard workers and dedicated to making their series a good one. Pete would rather be able to concentrate on the movies but does find that the series has certain advantages. "Making a TV series is the same thing day, after day, after day, after day. I confess to being a little restless. I was footloose and fancy free at Universal before this came along. Still, if I have to make a TV series I prefer being in the great outdoors and around horses than playing a lawyer, say, in a courtroom."

With jobs so scarce everywhere--including Hollywood--some believe that Pete should be a little more enthusiastic about his luck at landing the lead in one of the few shows renewed for next Fall's season. Altogether, 34 shows were dropped, but Alias Smith and Jones was renewed with pleasure by ABC. The network was happy to have the popular and handsome young actors back in their corner! The show's ratings are good and the two co-stars receive loads of mail every week. Most of the mail comes from young ladies who have fallen under the spell of Pete and Ben.

Both of these guys are sworn bachelors, but that makes little difference to the girls who write in to them asking for a date or in many cases, much more! These rugged and virile stars are the answers to many a young girls dreams. Their roles in the series give them a romantic flavor and few girls who watch them riding across their screens can resist the charm that exudes from them.

As both Pete and Ben are relative newcomers to TV, most people would like to get to know them better. They have both had experience in doing guest spots on various other TV shows but this is the most attention either of them have received to date. Pete Duel appeared in Love On A Rooftop but never got near the notoriety that he has achieved since becoming Hannibal Heyes, alias Joshua Smith.

Ben Murphy, alias Kid Curry, alias Jones has had equally fine experience to back him up. Ben played the young reporter Joe Sample in The Name of the Game, and had a featured role in the Oscar-winning movie The Graduate. Ben lives in an apartment near the Universal Studios in the San Fernando Valley. He lives in typical bachelor fashion and describes the motif of his apartment as "cheap motel plastic." We think Ben is exaggerating a little, but like most bachelors, his apartment is not the most important thing to him right now.

Until just recently Pete lived in about the same state of happy disorder as Ben, but not long ago he moved into his new abode. When Pete first established himself in California for his work at Universal and then his work on Alias Smith and Jones, he lived in a $65 a month, one-and-a-half room apartment over a garage in Los Angeles. Since then he has moved to larger, more homey quarters which we promised Pete we'd keep a secret. The truth of the matter is, that Pete is such a popular guy that if his whereabouts were ever made public, Pete would never have a moment to himself. And, although we hate to burst the bubbles of any of you girls, Pete does have a girlfriend. Because she likes her privacy a whole lot, the only name she'd give was Diane.

Pete and Ben both insist, "We don't believe in marriage!" but that's not saying they don't believe in girls or girlfriends for that matter. "I don't believe in marriage being the next step in a relationship," asserts Pete. "Marriage goes hand in hand with children. I dig having a child but not right now. I do go with a girl, though."

Although for the time being, while they are really establishing themselves, Pete and Ben want to remain fancy free, neither of them appear to be real died-in-the-wool bachelors. There is just something about these two that makes girls want to take care of them and love them and with that kind of an attraction these guys aren't going to be single their whole lives! You can bet on that! It is well-known among the faithful Duel and Murphy fans that these two want to remain single and have insisted over and over that they will for some time to come. However, in the mail that they receive, both Ben and Pete get at least 100 proposals of marriage each week!

These letters are from girls who only see this Duo on the screen. You can imagine the effect they must have on girls who get to see them up close or even get to touch the handsome stars! And if two guys, who have sworn to remain bachelors for the present still receive 100 proposals of marriage, every week, you just know that they have a very special kind of magnetism.

On television, these two are showing this terrific magnetism and actually doing quite well. Their show was originally tested in a Saturday night time-slot, (the one that has been filled by Welk all these years) and according to the data taken drew a larger viewing audience than Welk, himself. However, in the long run they were placed opposite Flip Wilson--a position considered to be the toughest competition on television. During the summer months, Alias will keep this slot. Says Pete, "We'll see what happens in the summer. Maybe we'll pick up on Flip during the rerun period. I personally think we'll do alright next season."

Everyone is hoping that they will do alright next season. There was some controversy about the show when it was first aired because of its striking similarity to the very popular movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Although one can hardly avoid such a comparison, Pete Duel thinks that undue importance has been placed on this fact. "I frankly resent the constant needling every time I did an interview," states Duel. "It was always the first question asked, and in my opinion n moot point. I don't object to anything resembling anything. Sure it could have been absurd if it was another movie. But considering it was a TV series, well, big deal.

"It would he funny if the series runs a couple of years," remarks Duel, "then the film is rereleased, and the new audience that hasn't seen the movie will say, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid resembles Alias Smith and Jones."

Both Pete and Ben have been working hard to make the series a good thing in itself, and a valuable acting experience for themselves. They are trying not to fall into the trap that other series' stars have fallen into: that of becoming only the character they play in the series and doing that well but to the exclusion of creativity in their acting. Pete and Ben want to keep growing and improving. However, if they improve too much, ABC is going to have to get a special mail-room just for the mail for these two stars!

The mail that comes in to Pete and Ben usually goes something like this: "Dear Pete (or Ben), I watch you on television every week and I like you and the show a lot. I am 13 (or 14, or 15, etc.!!) and would like to meet you and go out with you. Will you write to me and tell me where we can meet? Love from a loyal fan."

More often than not, however, a letter from a fan will go like this: "Dear Ben (or Pete), I watch you every week and I am sure that I am in love with you. More than anything I want to marry you. I have never met or seen anyone in my life that I like so much. Please write and tell me if I can meet you. Love from another loyal fan."

Both Pete and Ben enjoy getting letters from their fans and appreciate all the time and effort people put into writing to them. And, although they're not interested in getting married just yet, they appreciate the compliment paid to them by their fans.

With the interest that has been sparked by them, it looks like Pete and Ben will be around for a long time to come. Even Pete, who really prefers doing movies, has thought about the fact that the series may run for a couple of years at least. They have good scripts, an interesting basis for all the stories and best of all, there is Pete Duel and Ben Murphy. It is entirely possible that their popularity will just keep growing. There are some girls who probably haven't even seen them yet, and when more and more people see these two, they're appeal just has to keep growing.

Maybe they don't want to get married, but there are lots of girls who would like to change their minds about that. Single stars are usually more popular, as all the girl fans can keep imagining that they could be the girl to land them! Well, maybe there is a young lady somewhere who will eventually land one of these two winners! Pete and Ben are hoping they won't be successful--at least for a while! They want to keep single and free and able to meet lots of girls for a long time to come!

Hopefully Pete and Ben in Alias Smith and Jones will continue to do well in the ratings game! That way, they'll be around for everyone to enjoy!

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