Inspired by the popularity of the feature film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, this tongue-in-cheek Western series featured ex-outlaws Jed Curry (based on real-life hole-in-the-wall gang member Kid Curry) and Hannibal Heyes who, seeking to end their life of crime, were granted a provisional amnesty by the Governor of Kansas, to be turned into a pardon if the pair led blameless lives for a full twelve months. This deal, however, was to remain a secret ('Only you and me and the governor'll know !') and so the duo accepted the aliases of the title, Thaddeus Jones (Curry) and Joshua Smith (Heyes), and duly roamed the Kansas territory of the 1890s trying their level best to avoid trouble. But with a price still on their heads, a lot of grudges against them and a little larceny still in their hearts, this was no easy proposition. Chased across two TV seasons by posses, bounty-hunters and old outlaw friends who wanted them to revert to their old ways, they never did get their pardon.
The show starred Ben Murphy as Jed 'Kid' Curry and Peter Duel (who spelt his name Deuel on Love on a Rooftop) as Hannibal Heyes. On 30 December 1971, Duel, aged 31, shot and killed himself after watching the show at his Hollywood Hills apartment leaving the role of Joshua Smith to be speedily recast. It was taken by Roger Davis, formerly narrator of the series, who continued in the part for another year. Ralph Story took over Davis' previous role as narrator. The occasional role of Clementine Hale, another lovable rogue, was added in October 1971 to give some continuing love interest.
At a time when the TV Western was galloping into the sunset (Gunsmoke was the only traditional Western on the screen in America by the time its production ended in 1975) and with secret agents of all types taking over the small screen, Alias Smith and Jones had good-looking exterior photography, roguish humour and interesting use of voice-over dialogue that succeeded in making it one of the last Western hits.
Pete Duel (left) and Ben Murphy (right) starred as Hannibal Heyes
and Kid Curry in the TV comedy western Alias Smith and Jones.
Duel committed suicide during the filming of the show, leaving
narrator Roger Davis to take his part.
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