Ben Murphy was born on March 6, 1942, in the coincidentally-named Jonesboro, Arkansas, and grew up in Hinsdale, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Ever restless, Ben attended eight different colleges, earning B.A. degrees in international relations and theater arts, as well as doing graduate work in acting and physical education.
Ben's acting career took off in 1968, with a regular role on *The Name of the Game* and appearances in *It Takes a Thief* and *The Virginian*, and in 1970 he was cast as Kid Curry in the *Alias Smith & Jones* pilot, co-starring with Pete Duel. The pilot was picked up as a mid-season replacement in early 1971, and did well enough to be renewed for the next year.
After Pete Duel's tragic death in December of 1971, the role of Hannibal Heyes was recast with Roger Davis. Ben continued in his role as Kid Curry for the remainder of the season and for the following season, until the show was cancelled in mid-season.
Ben's later series included *Griff* (1973-74), *Gemini Man* (1976), *The Chisholms* (1979-80), *Berrenger's* (1985), and *Dirty Dozen: The Series* (1988). He guest starred in such series as *Kojak*, *Marcus Welby*, *The Love Boat*, *Murder, She Wrote* and *Scarecrow and Mrs. King*, and appeared in the miniseries *The Winds of War*. He has devoted much of his time to the pro-celebrity tennis circuit, and in the 1980s was ranked first in that circuit for a time. Ben still acts occasionally, and in the 1990s has shown up in guest spots on such shows as *In the Heat of the Night*, *Baywatch Nights*, *Silk Stalkings*, and in the recurring role of Ethan Cooper on *Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman*. He is divorced and lives in Malibu.
Peter Ellstrom Deuel was born on February 24, 1940, in Rochester, New York, and grew up in the Rochester suburb of Penfield. His father, Elsworth, was a doctor, and when Pete entered St. Lawrence University, he was considering medicine as a possible career. However, it soon became clear that his real love was acting, and he withdrew from college after two years to study with the American Theater Wing in New York City. His younger brother Geoffrey followed in his footsteps as an actor, and his sister Pamela became a nightclub singer, later switching to contemporary Christian music.
After touring with the national company of "Take Her, She's Mine," Pete settled in Hollywood, where he landed a number of guest spots in various television programs. His first recurring role was in 1965-66, as the brother-in-law of the title character in "Gidget," starring Sally Field. This was followed by a leading role as a young married architect in the sitcom "Love on a Rooftop" (1966-67), in which he co-starred with Judy Carne. After "Love on a Rooftop" was cancelled, Pete settled down to some film work and a large number of tv guest spots. He appeared in many of the most memorable shows of the era, including *The FBI*, *The Fugitive*, *The Virginian*, *Ironside*, *Marcus Welby*, *The Name of the Game*, and *The Bold Ones*. His films included "A Cannon for Cordoba," "Generation," and the t.v. movie "The Young Country," in which he played the villain, to Roger Davis' hero.
In 1970, he co-starred with Ben Murphy in the pilot for *Alias Smith & Jones*. This was quickly picked up as a mid-season replacement, and premiered in early 1971. Despite stiff competition from the top-rated show on television, *The Flip Wilson Show,* it did well enough to be renewed for a second season. The show continued to do fairly well, picking up considerably whenever *Flip Wilson* went into reruns, and developing a following of its own.
By 1971, it looked like Pete Duel, who had changed his name to the simpler spelling several years earlier, was on a roll. Capitalizing on his newfound popularity, ABC had dusted off "Love on a Rooftop" as a summer replacement series, and late that year NBC showed "How to Steal an Airplane," a television movie in which he had starred and which had been shelved for several years. That summer, Pete had filmed a version of the stage play, "The Scarecrow," in which he co-starred with Blythe Danner and Gene Wilder, and which he later cited as the work of which he was proudest.
Pete had three dogs, Shoshone, Champagne, and Carroll, and was known for taking in strays. He was particularly interested in wilderness camping and environmental issues, and got involved with campaigning for Eugene McCarthy in 1968.
However, in the early morning hours of December 31, 1971, Pete Duel died of a gunshot wound to the head, an apparent suicide. He was discovered by his girlfriend, Diane Ray, who reported to police that she had been sleeping in another room and had been awakened by the sound of a gunshot. It appears that he had long struggled with depression. He was apparently despondent over a number of things, including a failed relationship, an alcohol problem which had led to the revocation of his driver's license after a series of DUIs, the shooting schedule of the series which left him with little time for other work or for his favorite pastime of wilderness camping, and an overwhelming sense of pessimism about the future of the world, and particularly the environment.
Roger Davis was born on April 5, in Louisville, Kentucky. He attended Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, Tennessee, where he was excelled at cross-country running and won an eight-state debating championship. He majored in English Literature at Columbia University and studied acting with drama coach Michael Howard. He spent his summers doing summer stock in Woodstock, NY, and with the Repertory Theater in New York City.
He was accepted at Harvard Law School, where he spent exactly one week before leaving for UCLA and a teaching fellowship in English Literature. He received his M.A. from UCLA and taught freshman English there, but left to play the role of Pvt. Roger Gibson in a television series called "The Gallant Men." Following this series, he returned to New York where he appeared in the supernatural soap opera "Dark Shadows," playing eight different roles, most notably Peter Bradford and Jeff Clark. (This is not as peculiar as it sounds, since the series used the same actors in different roles in the historical flashback sequences.)
He starred in the New York stage play *MacBird* as well as two *Movie of the Week* features, *The Young Country" (a Roy Huggins western which also featured Pete Duel as the villain) and *River of Gold.* Prior to joining the *Alias Smith and Jones* cast, Davis also guest-starred on *The Bold Ones* and *Medical Center.*
Davis' first connection with *Alias Smith & Jones* was as the narrator, doing the introductory voiceover during the credits. During the show's second season, he appeared as the smiling villain Danny Bilson in the episode "Smiler with a Gun," and earned the distinction of being the only man Kid Curry ever killed in the course of the series. After Pete Duel's tragic death, Roger Davis was tapped to take over the role of Hannibal Heyes for the remainder of the season, and, as it turned out, for the third season, as well, until the show's mid-season cancellation. For those of you who may have noticed that the second Heyes is taller than Kid Curry, the studio biography lists Davis as 6'1", to Ben Murphy's 5'11".
Post *Alias Smith & Jones* appearances included a guest shot on *Ironside,* interestingly in an episode that also featured Geoffrey Deuel, Pete's brother, and the mini-series *Aspen* in 1977. Davis retired from acting around that point, and has lived primarily in Louisville ever since, where he has been reported to own a hotel and to be involved in real estate. He did not entirely abandoned acting, however, and appeared in an episode of *Matlock* and did some commercials in the late 80s.
Roger Davis attends the annual Dark Shadows Festivals in New York and Los Angeles, and it's been reported that if you catch him in the autograph line, he's happy to talk about Alias Smith & Jones.
FILMOGRAPHY 1964 - Twilight Zone (episode: "Spur of the Moment") 1962 - "Gallant Men, TV Series .... Roger Gibson 1963 - PT 109 1963 - Redigo (series) 1964 - Ride the Wild Surf .... Charlie 1966 - Dark Shadows (series) 1967 - Big Valley (episode: "Haunted Gun) 1970 - House of Dark Shadows (TV) 1970 The Young Country (TV Movie) 1970 River of Gold (TV Movie) 1971-1973 - Alias Smith and Jones (series) 1972 - Night Gallery (episode: "You Can Come Up Now, Mrs. Millikan") 1974 - Rockford Files (episode: "Kirkoff Case) 1974 - Killer Bees (TV) 1975 - Flash and the Firecat 1976 - Nashville Girl 1977 - Aspen (TV Mini Series) 1977 - Ruby 1989 - Chameleons (TV)
Special thanks to Cinda for getting the filmography info all together and to Catherine for doing up the biographies and sparing me the agony of typing them up!
I maintain this site strictly for fun. I have not intended to infringe on
Have an suggestions, comments, praise (in particular)? Drop
me a note.
Reproduction or use of any of this site for profit sternly frowned upon.
(c) Personal Ephemera