by Dick Kleiner
The Cleveland Press TV Showtime, March 24, 1972
HOLLYWOOD--It's a grand and glorious tradition, that old bit about the show must go on. But, when you analyze it, it's not so much an emotional as an economic necessity. As an example of how financial considerations are at the heart of the matter, we bring you now the case of the late Pete Duel and his replacement, Roger Davis on ABC's Alias Smith and Jones, seen Thursdays (8, Chs. 5, 23).

Roger, who is pictured on the TV Showtime cover, is a tall, intelligent, soft-spoken, good-looking actor. He hadn't been too well known to the public until he stepped in for Duel. Davis had been around the business about 10 years and during that time was a regular on a war series called Gallant Men. And yet, within the business he was well-known for his huge success as a voice-over commercial announcer.

He is reputed to have earned nearly a quarter of a million dollars last year, as the voice-of such products as Close-Up toothpaste. He'd done several TV movies for Universal, the studio which makes Alias Smith and Jones, and was doing the voice-over introductions for the show. The day Duel died of a gunshot wound Davis was in Denver doing a radio commercial.

At first the executives at Universal thought about canceling the series, but instead decided to find a replacement. George Peppard was considered for a while, but they finally decided on Davis. The worst part said Davis was moving into an established company.

"They had all liked Pete," he says. "They were glad the show was continuing--after all, it meant their jobs--but it wasn't the same obviously."

Now he's accepted and he's happy about that because he thinks the role of Hannibal Heyes is a good one. He thinks the show will continue, because he feels if the network had wanted to drop it, the perfect time would have been when Pete died. According to ABC program vice president, Martin Starger, Alias, which has been improving in ratings, has a "better than average" chance of returning this fall.

"I like to think," says Roger, "that Pete's death was accidental. If he had problems, he kept them to himself. In fact, his stand-in told me that he had left Pete at 11:30 that night and Pete's last words were to remind him to get to the set early Monday morning, because they had some tough things to shoot."

Photo Caption: SEEING DOUBLE--Although Roger Davis and Ben Murphy are the current stars Alias Smith and Jones, reruns of past episodes with the late Pete Duel are now being shown by the network.

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