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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kudos for a long overdue well written bio for a much loved and missed man, 2 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Pete Duel: A Biography (Paperback)
If you are a Pete Duel fan you have to buy this book and its worth paying more for this larger edition so you can appreciate the 60 plus photos more. It's no "kiss and tell" but an honest clear sighted view of a charming, generous and talented man who died far too soon with so much left to do. This is an authourtive, extensively researched biography. With the help of Pamela, Pete's adored and adoring younger sister, Paul Green has had access to plenty of unreleased photos and information but it can't have been an easy task. Published in 2007 almost 40 years after Pete's death new information would be thin on the ground, but by interviewing the non-celebs who were his close friends, as well as better known fellow actors and colleagues he has mined a rich vein. It can't have been an easy life to essay, how do you write about a man dead at 31 of whom the adjective most used was "promising?" Obviously, Paul Green doesn't provide the answers to the questions that have haunted us over the years namely, why did he do it, or, even did he mean to do it. We'll never know whether it was intentional or did Pete "goof up" as he did regularly.
The charismatic and promising young actor died of a self-inflicted gunshot on New Year's Eve in 1971 at only 31 years of age. Although established as a versatile, skilled television actor at home in comedy (such as Alias Smith & Jones) and drama, he never got the chance to fulfil his true potential as an actor. He made 3 "so so" feature films and didn't leave behind any profound/seriously ground breaking film performances.
It's not the easiest of books to dip into, not a typical biography, and by using the testimonies of those nearest to Pete as structure to his narrative Paul Green's book needs careful reading if you are not to get confused with time lines and presents many contradictions. But then whose life wouldn't when related by numerous others. There are the occasional dissenting voices but it says much of Pete Duel that after 40 years no one has come forward to "dump on" him. Paul Green does however reward his readers with a tremendous insight into what made Pete Duel the man he became. As well as, such marvellously incongruous details as Pete being acquainted with both Wilfred (Steptoe) Bramble and Elvis. The section dealing with his family, childhood and college life in particular is charming, accessible and illustrated with lovely family photographs. More heartbreaking though is "Ripples through Time" which deals with the continuing devastation that Pete's likely suicide wrought to his parents, sister and brother, niece, friends and colleagues,and least anyone forget, the women who were in his life at the end, Kim Darby and Dianne Ray-who he was to have married.
For me the success of this book lies in the sense of closure I felt by learning more about his state of mind at the end. Like many I have never been able to come to terms with the Pete Duel portrayed in the media after his death . Too contradictory, with what I subsequently read about him and his easy almost effortless performance on screen. Treated by the press as a typical Hollywood tragedy, a victim of his own success, handsome, healthy, virile and fit...he had everything to live for..A talented young man at the peak of his career apparently kills himself because he couldn't cope with success. . He had had too many women, drunk too much, taken too many pills, a weak character not strong enough to survive in show business etc..well this book fills you in on that side of his life but also shows that Pete Duel while apparently having the most successful and financially rewarding year of his life was actually having a horrible year.

As he started working on the series that made his name his world slid out of his control. He had been jailed for 5 days following a conviction for a DUI, his second offence. As a result he was on probation, not allowed to drive or socialise in bars but he was unable to stop himself from doing both. He might well have been returned to jail for much longer. He was a sensitive, caring man who now lived with the guilt of causing real pain and injury to innocent people. His epilepsy, which could have led to brain damage, was a secret he had hid from the rest of the world, escalated, and he was terrified of it being discovered. The graceful cowboy, who rode a horse like Fred Astaire danced, was in constant agony with back and pelvic injuries that most likely would have had him living his life in a wheelchair. Frustrated, creatively as well as, exhausted and in chronic pain he wanted "out" from AS&J. But he was trapped as a result of his long running contract and as the civil case following his DUI conviction was coming up would likely lose everything he had earned, so he couldn't afford to break out of it. And so much more.
If Pete Duel had compiled a positive/negative list of reasons to go on, or not to, it would have been hard to convince him the coming year was going to be an improvement on the last...
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Pete Duel: A Biography
Pete Duel: A Biography by Paul Green (Paperback - 18 Nov. 2008)
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