"It was harder to accept than to turn it down," he said. "Pete was one of my closest buddies. At first I didn't think I could do it. For a couple of days I would need to take time out to go off to the side of the set and cry."
"I couldn't help but have guilt feelings. Here I was benefiting directly from the misfortune of a friend. Like someone you love signing over a life insurance policy to you without your knowing anything about it."
"It helped to have Pete's brother, Jeff, come to the studio and mention how often Pete had spoken about me. 'No one would understand better than Pete that the show must go on,' he reassured me. 'That's the nature of the business.'
"Of course, I realized that if I didn't do it, someone else would. That's the reason I said yes.
"The first show I had to do was one that Pete had started and was halfway through. That was probably the hardest one. Pete's things were still in the dressing room. The set looked like a funeral.
"We shot until midnight that first day. That probably helped us get over the shock better than anything else might have. After that we had scarcely time to think about anything."
Earlier in the season Roger had played an engaging villain in an "Alias" segment. For a time his voice remained on the sound track of the introduction. But eventually his lead-in chore was given to another actor, Ralph Story, host of a popular local TV talk show in Los Angeles.
Davis, who broke into television as a regular on the "Gallant Men" series in 1962, once attended Harvard Law School--but only for a week. He quit to accept a part-time teaching fellowship at UCLA, where he held a master's degrees in literature. He was teaching freshman English at the school when the call for "Gallant Men" turned his career around.
That show lasted only a season, but Davis went from that to "Dark Shadows," a daytime series, and guested in several other shows, most recently in "Bold Ones" and "Medical Center," as well as appearing in two "Movies of the Week"--"Young Country" and "River of Gold."
Davis, now 31, was born in Louisville, Ky., where his father owns a tire company. He excelled during his school days in cross-country running and debating, winning an eight-state championship in the latter. It was while he attended Columbia University that he first studied drama, appearing in summer stock and repertory.
He had a role in the play "MacBird" in New York, a bitter satire on the assassination of President Kennedy. His role was that of Robert F. Kennedy and he was playing it when the senator was killed.
"Again I had a terrible feeling," he observed, "the same feeling that I had when I heard about Peter."
Davis is married to actress-model Jaclyn
Ellen Smith and they live in the Westwood section of Los Angeles.
Back to Articles List