You'd do exactly what Pete Duel and Ben Murphy have been doing--you'd flee to home screens each Thursday evening, ABC, as Alias Smith and Jones.
Roy Huggins, executive producers of the show, has some notable notches in his pistol grips--Maverick and Run For Your Life, to name two.
This year's amnesty gimmick in the current show is indefinitely extendable, of course. Says Huggins: "There's really no TV time on the amnesty deal. I'd be delighted if they took 10 seasons or more to earn it!" At present, it's sure they'll go for at least two.
The whole thing began, pardners, with
a Movie of the Week early this year.
The movie depicted the two outlaws, Hannibal Heyes and Jed "Kid" Curry, discouraged about their way of making a living. Law enforcement in the West was getting too efficient for them. They decided to go straight.
Heyes and Curry went to a friend, who had left the owlhoot trail and became a deputy sheriff. Through him, they got a promise from the governor: They would receive a full and complete amnesty for their crimes if they managed to stay out of trouble for a year.
"That is no easy task for these two," Huggins says. "And it gives us a gold mine of story ideas."
The two outlaws' desire to go straight is constantly frustrated by many things. "They still can be caught by bounty hunters interested in the prices on their heads. They still have larceny in their hearts and are constantly tempted to steal, but they will resist because they want amnesty more."
Every so often, Huggins says, "the two outlaws are blamed for something they didn't do. This occasionally puts them in the awkward position of having to thwart a heist they previously might have engineered."
The biggest problem for Heyes and Curry is that of earning an honest living sweating out the probationary period.
"This takes them from town to town because they aren't trained for anything honest," Huggins said. "Even when they get jobs they like, they can't keep them long because of pressure from bounty hunters. We aren't even limited to the West. Our boys really drift around.'
Because of the "basic fix" of the show and the talents of the two stars, says Huggins, "humor is a plus benefit in the show. We did not aim for a spoof on the traditional Western. Nevertheless, Heyes and Curry get into situations which are inherently funny."
To play Hannibal Heyes, also known as Joshua Smith, Alias Smith and Jones has young actor Pete Duel, whose previous TV series were Gidget and Love on a Rooftop for ABC.
Pete's a person who's quite at home in the outdoors setting of a western. People sometimes joke that he'd never make it with the jet set.
His favorite mode of travel is a four-wheel-drive camper with the wilderness country as his destination. Even when he must cross the country, he drives if he has the time and, avoiding motels, camps whenever he is tired.
"For me, the purest from of pleasure is camping in the wilderness," Pete said. "It really is renewing."
Born in Rochester, NY, Pete grew up in the nearby town of Penfield. He is the son of Dr. Ellsworth S. Deuel and the former Lillian M. Ellstrom.
"Penfield, in my childhood, was a real country town," Pete says. "It was great growing up there. I learned to camp early in life. We played cowboys and Indians in the woods. Now it's a suburban bedroom."
Although there are six doctors in his family background (father, grandfather, great-grandfather, two great-uncles, and a second cousin), Pete never seriously considered going into medicine.
"Neither did my brother or sister," he said. His brother, Geoffrey Deuel, is an actor; his sister, Pamela, sings with the Entourage group. Both, incidentally, have kept the original spelling of their surname, Deuel.
Duel, one of Hollywood's most eligible young bachelors, spent two years at St. Lawrence in New York before deciding to pursue an acting career full time.
His sidekick on the series is Ben Murphy, a young, blond actor heretofore pretty much unknown to the American television public.
As Jed 'Kid" Curry, alias Thaddeus Jones, Ben is a drifter with a lot of common sense.
"That shouldn't be any trouble for him," one of his friends remarked. "He's sure drifted a lot, but he kept his head together."
The friend was remarking on the fact that Ben attended no less than eight colleges, yet in the course of his wanderings accumulated enough credits to earn two Bachelor of Arts degrees.
The colleges which can claim him as an alumnus are Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa; Loyola University in New Orleans; the University of the Americas in Mexico City; the University of Illinois; Loyola University in Chicago; Pasadena Playhouse in California; the University of Southern California; and San Fernando Valley State College.
He received degrees from the University
of Illinois (B.A. in International Relations) and Pasadena Playhouse
(B.A. in Theater Arts).
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