PETER'S BATTLE TO BREAK AWAY FROM HIS
by Joy Peters
TV Movie Scene, March 1972
"I come from a very methodical, systematic family," Peter Duel told me the day we chatted on the set of his ABC-TV show, "Alias Smith and Jones."
"Medicine had been my heritage before I entered the acting profession. My father, grandfather, great-grandfather, two cousins and two great-uncles were doctors. My family kind of assumed that I, too, would follow medicine as my vocation in life. But a few years ago, I came to a point where I had to decide, and pursued acting instead. Not everyone, to this day, can say that they feel that I made the right decision.
"I can understand the quest for independence engaged in by the hippies," Peter went on to say. "After all, I'm a contemporary of theirs. But that's just not my scene. They retreat, really, from solutions. I prefer to go after something in which I believe strongly."
As far as asserting his own independence goes, Peter knows whereof he speaks. He had to battle his family in order to pursue the sound stage rather than the surgical table.
"I really wouldn't have been that happy as a doctor," he confessed to me. "It isn't creative enough for me; For others in my family, it was the ideal profession. But we are different as human beings from one person to another . . . and I just couldn't see myself as a doctor for the rest of my life. I made my choice calmly and objectively, and I have never had any cause for regrets on that score or any other for that matter.
"There was a lean period in my life," he admitted, "but it would have been rough as an intern but even more so, as a medical student. Hunger and disappointment and hard work aren't peculiar just to the actor. The young man who wants to be a doctor must put up with ample doses of each, too.
"I didn't become an actor overnight," he said. "I worked very hard to get where I am today. I spent two years studying at the American Theater Wing. Then I joined the Shakespeare Wrights Repertory Company as assistant stage manager and actor. I then landed a part in the Family Service Group touring show which produced public service shows for schools, service clubs and P.T.A. groups.
"This gave me invaluable experience in many different types of roles," he admitted even further.
"My first big break in show business came when I signed for the motion picture, 'Wounded In Action,' which was filmed in the Philippines.
"I followed this with the co-starring role in the national company of 'Take Her, She's Mine,' starring Tom Ewell. Then I made the move to Hollywood where I got featured roles in 'The Man Nobody Liked' and 'Target Espionage.'
"I guested on 'Channing,' 'The Fugitive,' and 'Mickey.' And then, of course, came 'Gidget,' 'Love On A Rooftop' and now 'Alias Smith and Jones,' all of which I am very, very grateful for. Some wonderful people have helped me along the way and I shall never forget them nor what they did for me when times weren't so promising."
Above being a nice guy, Peter also happens to be a very eligible bachelor. He enjoys dating gals both in and out of show business. His career, like most younger actors, isn't an obsession with him. His career is a goal that he wanted to reach but he has kept it in proper perspective and hasn't let it overwhelm him. He enjoys dating gals and they enjoy dating him. When he is out on a date, he isn't "on."
Camping, he told me, is his main hobby. "I just love it," Peter remarked. "I spend much of my free time exploring the back country of California's High Sierras and sometimes spend weeks at a time driving through this . . . for me. . . wonderfully uncharted country.
"I love adventure, the thrill of discovery," he admitted. "I think I always have. I also utilize these moments to contemplate. I think it is very important to each of us that we have time away from the demands of everyday life. Such can make us terribly neurotic if we aren't careful, and that's a trap that I want to avoid."
One of his close girl friends told us, "Peter is very kind and very sensitive. He's the best sort of friend to have. There isn't anything he wouldn't do for you, nothing at all. The old 'shirt-off-the-back' fits him rather snugly.
"He is the one man who disproves
the saying that good guys finish last . . . Peter Duel is a good
guy and in my book he sure finishes first!"
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