Alias Smith and Jones Fun and Fanfiction
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Keays

Keays

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 62
Location : Camano Island Washington

Conversation with Beth Empty
PostSubject: Conversation with Beth   Conversation with Beth EmptyThu Aug 29, 2013 2:34 pm

Hello everyone. I'm sure most of you have already seen this, but since it got deleted from that other site Sarah kindly suggested that I re post it here. I did not include the questioned that were asked as I think the answers are self explanatory.

In care you are wondering, this is a transcript of a conversation our FaceBook club had with Beth Shaffer nee Griswald, Peter's fiancee.




Yes, Peter did enjoy playing the guitar and singing. In fact, that was one thing we shared. I had played for several years and had even sung in a few small coffee houses before we met. I think he was a bit frustrated that his singing voice was not as good as his acting. I think he would have enjoyed being great in both fields. ... No, I did not paint while we were together, neither did I continue with my playing or singing. I felt more comfortable being supportive of him rather than tooting my own horn, so to speak.

Oh boy, I do not remember cooking or Peter cooking much if ever at home. There was a tiny kitchen at the Fuller St. apartment, hardly functional for full meal cooking. We ate breakfast almost every day that he wasn't on set at what had been his favorite place years. I remember going to Pink's for piled-high chili dogs (of course) several times. When we first started working for McCarthy, there was a great Jewish Deli right across the street (on Fairfax) that made the BEST sandwiches I had ever had. That was often our meal when we would pull 10 or more hours there. We had dinner with friends in their homes quite often. And I'm sorry to say I do not recall any favorite foods but then I'm not a foodie. Peter was very conscious of eating healthily (other than Pinks) :-D .

This is one of those "detail" questions that I'm afraid I just don't remember. Horror pictures I would never have gone to see, with him or not, so if he liked them, he would have gone to them with a friend or by himself when I was there. Now, Sci-Fi was a different subject. - James Cagney? Again, I do not remember if we ever talked about him or other stars of his time or genre. Sorry to disappoint but again these details are just not there in my memory. Which brings me to the toothpaste ...??? No idea really. Suffice it to say, he did use it.

Hello again ... thanks for all your lovely heartfelt comments. I really appreciate them. So to continue, I think I left off at Kari's question, did I watch Alias Smith & Jones when it first came out. I did not see the original pilot until years later ... at the time it first aired, I was traveling with my husband to visit his relatives across country. When the regular series started, I did not watch. Honest truth, it was too difficult for me. I was just six months married and my husband of course knew of my past with Peter so it was just too uncomfortable. Sometimes, if my husband was away on show night, I would try to watch but, again, it just made me sad so I don't think I watched at all after the first few. I did see many of them later, long after Peter's death and after my marriage was over, when they would come on in reruns an the "back" channels. It was a pleasure seeing him in a part he played so well but still so sad. As far as watching him in other things, yes, we watched the shows he did while we were together at home when they aired ... the Virginian, Ironside, and the talk shows he was on. Peter invited me to the filming of those and I loved watching him work! I thought he was marvelous but then I was just a bit prejudiced. :-)

- I didn't have any idea there were so many fans of Peter's until awhile after I was contacted by Paul Green. When Paul asked if I would consent to be interviewed for the biography he was writing about Peter, I was incredulous that there would be a big enough audience for his publication. He advised me to visit some fan sites that he had linked to his website and I have to say I was amazed! I think that was the first time I "googled" my name and found some of the photos of Peter and me together. Honestly I had no idea. I think Peter would be pleased that so many still think so highly of his work and of him as an individual.


no, I'm sorry to say I never met Peter's parents. I never went back to Penfield with him. I did meet Pam when she came out to visit in 1968. And, of course hung out with Geoff a lot. He and Peter were pretty close. I spoke briefly with Pamela when Paul Green published his book. We always meant to re-connect but never did find the right time. During the writing of Paul's book, there was an estrangement between Pamela and Geoff. And I don't think Geoff was too happy with Paul so I did not have the opportunity to speak with Geoff again. I'm still regretful that I was not able to speak to him shortly after Peter's death. Someday, maybe we'll re-connect. I wish him peace and joy.

It's true I heard about Peter's death over the radio. I was away from home for the following two months and, without access to news or west coast TV, heard or read very little about it. My mother refused Geoff Deuel returning some personal items from Peter's estate (something I never really forgave). Yes, I was married. I met my husband (another Pieces) on another blind date in the fall of 1969. My girlfriend had to beg me to go because I still wasn't dating much. Peter and I broke up by the end of 1968 pretty much. We talked again a few times but did not see each other again. I had briefly dated two other men between Peter and my future husband. We were married for ten years and have one wonderful daughter. She has dimples as deep as Peter's. We don't know where they came from genetically so I always thought that was Spirit's way of keeping Peter ever in my heart. She is now grown with children of her own, a girl and a boy. Yes, that makes me a grandmother ... they call me Oma. It is one of the best experiences of my life!


Peter and I camped out in Death Valley of all places. I think that is pretty funny in itself. It was beautiful, very cold at night, and the bats dive bombed our sleeping bags. Between my screams as the bats hit and a few other things that are way to personal to go into, it was a pretty funny night. I remember a lot of laughter at ourselves, at each other, and at the idea of ever doing that again! Give me the green hills or wooded forests anytime over the desert!

Yes, Peter rehearsed his scripts. Sometimes I would "run lines" with him but I never acted. I would tell him if I liked one approach better than another. I loved to listen to him say the same line with different vocal qualities and/or facial expressions. I also enjoyed visiting sets with him. I was able watch filming of some of the parts he played while we were together. I loved being behind the scenes and thought I'd like to work in that capacity someday. You know I think he could handle criticism, on set anyway. I don't remember him mad at anyone but himself if a scene did not go the way he wanted. He was dedicated to being the best he could be.

Yes, Peter did love the classics too. Mostly he'd listen in the afternoons. I'm sorry I don't remember who precisely but I would venture a guess it was Beethoven. I think he introduced me to the 6th symphony. Again, a twenty year old's memory of the classics is not so sharp!

Thanks for the political question. Yes, Peter and I began volunteering for McCarthy in January of 1968, starting at the very beginning of the LA election campaign. Of course Peter continued to have several parts to play at Universal during that winter and spring so he was there at headquarters as often as he could be. I ended up spending most of my time there mostly coordinating college campus efforts for McCarthy. We poured a lot of time and effort into making Eugene McCarthy the democratic nominee for President when nobody thought it would ever happen, way before Robert Kennedy thought of getting into the race. As McCarthy supporters, we were very disappointed when RFK decided to run because we knew , with his connections and clout, he would most likely be the nominee. It seemed like we had done all the work getting LBJ to stand down, then RFK came into to reap the rewards. It was a gut wrenching time. We had all just "witnessed" Martin Luther King's assassination. We had also been aware of all the political backstabbing and espionage that takes place during the primary race. It was hard not to be bitter towards RFK. We were in McCarthy headquarters, feeling defeated and betrayed when RFK was shot. It was horrible. Our world had been shattered once again. After that, we truly hoped that McCarthy would be the choice at the Chicago Convention but then you know what happened there. Peter was there at the convention and came back with a few horror stories about what really went down with the police, etc. If anything came of all that tragedy, it was to continue "fighting", maybe in more subtle ways, for peace, for the environment, for the earth. The experience changed us all, permanently, and I think in a good way!

, Do you mean the posted photos or do you mean my cover photo? I'll answer both ... The posted photos are from all the pages that I love to follow ... I am what you would call a visual junkie. A beautiful photograph is worth 10,000 words in my opinion. Most of them are from nature, either a jewel of a bird or a marvelous view. As far as my cover photo - that is the view out my studio (my guest bedroom) window on a winter's sunrise. My art hobby is painting landscapes and flowers in Acrylics, you can see photos of some of my paintings in my Facebook photo albums. As far as other pursuits creatively, I have had many in the past to include: needlepoint, felting, sewing, stained glass, tiling (table tops, hearths, stepping stones,etc.), beading, jewelry making, and the list goes on. I'm sure I'll always be doing something with my hands to create things pleasing to the eye ...a total eye-candy addict!

, Yes, Peter loved movies and music. We went to the premiere of "2001: a Space Odyssey" in 1968, I recall. I also recall that we were pretty stoned at the time it really "blew our minds"! We talked about it for hours and days afterwards. As far as music, one of my brightest memories was of Peter's radio spot (on the big LA rock station) for the Moody Blues' new album, "Days of Future Passed". It was a favorite of his and still is an all time favorite of mine. We went to a few concerts but here is where memory fails me. I'm not sure which of the concerts I attended back then were the ones I was with Peter. We went to Fillmore West and to Winterland in San Francisco. I'm pretty sure we saw Cream, Vanilla Fudge, and Steppenwolf ( although we might have seen them in LA). I know I saw Jefferson Airplane and a few others (The Who, The Moody Blues) during those years but just not sure if I saw them with Peter. "Wioodstock" happened in mid 1969, I believe, Peter and I were no longer together. I think he was working in the series "Generations" by then.

Dating ... so odd to think of my relationship with Peter as dating but I guess it was for the first few weeks. We mostly went to friends houses ... people with whom he could relax and be himself. One of our first "dates" was when we went to the raceway in the picture posted. That was a lot of fun. We went with his best friend in Northern California, Chris Black and his wife. He and Peter were childhood friends. In fact it was Chris' wife who worked with one of my best friends who set me up with Peter on our first date which was a "blind date". Of course, not "blind" for me because I had been a fan of "Love on a Rooftop" and had just recently seen Peter on "the Dating Game". But back to dating, we mostly just hung out together. We loved to get stoned on Friday nights and watch "Star Trek" ... yes, believe it or not. He really liked that show ... there were some scripts that were very political back then. Let's see - after I moved to LA, we went to many studio functions together - that's where those photos of us together were taken. And Kari, that's about all I have left from my time with Peter. I was so distraught after we broke up that I destroyed the poems he wrote for me. I have the photos from an article that was going to be written about us in a fan magazine (never happened). My "wedding" ring (he had a matching one) was stolen during a burglary at my home many years later. So no, not many mementos, just memories.

Yes Peter had a great sense of humor and he loved to play practical jokes ... just ask his best friends like Davey - he could tell you some doozies! Sometimes when we were out, maybe just shopping or something, he would just start to do a crazy little dance, kinda goofy which of course would make me start giggling. He would amp it up and I would laugh louder until I joined in and we'd walk down the street just laughing and being goofy. The best day we had together was quite different though. It was in Big Sur. We drove up the coast to a friends house. Peter was looking for land to buy for his "retreat" from LA, looking both in Big Sur and on the Big Island of Hawaii. Anyway, we met up with someone who knew of some properties there Big Sur and spent the day hiking around the different locations. We stayed at his friends house (sorry I do not remember his name) up on the side of the wooded hills with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Seems like a dream now. I love Big Sur to this day and the wonderful feeling of the place. Kind of magical.

Peter was definitely aware of his good looks ... I don't think he could pass a mirror without at least a quick glance. He would also practice expressions in the mirror while running lines for an upcoming part. And, yes, I think he was fearful of not being taken seriously as an actor but not because of his looks. More because of the parts he had to take under his Universal contract ... he so wanted to be a big screen actor and was afraid he'd be pigeon-holed as "just a pretty face" TV actor. And yes he was aware that his smile was very attractive. I could watch as he crossed through a room and the women would just "melt".

Hi everyone and thank you for your patience with my response. I have to say it is a bit overwhelming so I ask for your continued patience and understanding. There are a few things I think I should mention before I begin to answer your questions. Please bear with me by remembering that I was only 20 years old when I met Peter and our relationship, in the perspective of an entire lifetime, was rather brief - less than 18 months long. Many things, especially details, I am sorry to say I just don't remember. But I will do my best. I'll try to answer the questions in the order they were asked but if I miss one just let me know and I'll try again the next time. OK? Well here goes then ...

Hello again ... I have some time this afternoon, all my chores or most of them done, to get back to your questions. So .......

When I think back on the few times we played guitar at the same time, what I recall is that I would play a song for him and then he might play a song for me.

We never really sang together very much. Most of my songs were Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Joan Baez ... you know, for a soprano female voice - not really

conducive to duet. And I only remember that because I had been singing those type of songs for the years before I met Peter. I'm so sorry I do not recall the

songs Peter sang. This would be an excellent question for C. Davey who was quite the musician back in the day! If anyone would remember, it would be him. And

we didn't really have "our song" ... I'd say that one song off the Moody Blues album "Days of Future Passed" was the closest we got to "our song" and it

would be "Tuesday Afternoon". When we played the album, the volume would always go up on that one in particular.

(Part 1) The deli on Faifax ... I don't think it was Canter's because even back then, I think Canter's was a big, famous deli. The deli across the street from the original McCarthy headquarters was "hole in the wall" size and atmosphere - you know, small counter and lots of "regulars" in for lunch. (Part 2) Yes, I knew that Peter had beliefs about Spirit, ESP, Psychic phenomena, etc. and we talked about it quite often - I think it's one of the things we had in common, that drew us together. Any movie or TV show that had any kind of related subject matter was always a good conversation starter. The memory of those discussions always leads to the question of his suicide and why it took me so long to believe that he had committed suicide (I was like Geoff, assuming fowl play until I read about his fall back into alcohol). We had talked about suicide being a choice but never an answer. Spiritually, suicide just never makes sense. This is a much deeper subject to get into than we have space or time for at this point but I'd love to come back to it if it is something you all

would like to continue. I will end this with just one more story. Peter visited me in Spirit several years after his death. I was just coming into a club in LA and SAW him walking towards me. He was smiling, my heart skipped a beat and I lost my breath, I thought I was about to faint and gazed down at the stairs so I wouldn't trip, looked back up and he was gone. The memory of his smile, especially that one, has remained all these years. You see, it was the lighting ... he was glowing with a light from within.

A little break there .....Pete's fan mail ... When I was with him, he was still getting fan mail from "Love on a Rooftop" mostly. It would come to the Universal Studio and then either be answered there or be forwarded to his agent or someone like that. I remember him having meetings (which he didn't particularly like to go to) where he would sign a lot of photographs and, sorry to say, sign response letters written by someone at the studio or with his agency. On occasion, there would be something extra special that a fan would send and "they" deemed he should know about so would forward it to him. I do not remember him sharing any particular letter with me. That's as much as I remember.

Other hobbies and things he liked to do or collect? Yes, he loved his classic 1953 black Cadillac. He took very good care of it. I was always shocked that he

was able to negotiate that narrow driveway at the Fuller apartment, driving that Cadi with barely 3 inches on either side AND getting it into that garage which was not much wider. He loved the outdoors and when we had time, we'd drive out of LA just to spend the day outside! And Peter liked to collect antique Coke Cola trays - he had quite an assortment when I met him and I recall finding one I gave to him in a small antique store in San Francisco.

Was Peter even better looking in person? That is a difficult one to answer - yes and no ... In his presence, when he was "on", yes! His energy could fill the room - starting with the smile then add that "charisma", he was gorgeous! Those sparkling eyes and those dimples and the "glow" of his energy ... everyone was drawn to him like moths to the flame. His dark days were another story but why not just focus on the positive now so there it is.

(I know many of you are animal lovers so this is for all). The Siamese cat in those photos of Peter and me was a stray. She just came up to us when we were

sitting at the table. Those critters know when an animal lover is present. They search 'em out for love and mostly get it! That's what happened here. I did have a cat while I was with Peter, she was at home during the photo shoot. I was given a tortoise-shell kitten one day while I was canvassing door to door for McCarthy. I named her Canvas. She was wonderful - I have a good memory of Peter and me playing with her in the Fuller apartment. She was with us for only four months unfortunately. While I was away visiting my family in Northern California and Peter busy at the studio for one of those fourteen hour days they like to spend filming, Canvas ran away and was probably picked up by someone who also loved animals. We searched for her for weeks. I blamed Peter for letting her out when he was headed for such a long time away from home. I really blamed myself for being gone. I wrote a long poem about her which was really about my relationship with Peter. Too sad. I think the saddest part was it was another "nail in the coffin" heading to our breakup.

Time for a short break now, then I'll come back if there are any more questions. In a bit then ...

No, I found the tray and gave it to him while we were together. I have no idea what happened to his collection. I assume Geoff has it or had it. Peter especially liked the earlier pieces with the Victorian women.

As far as I know Peter did not go hunting unless it was during his childhood in the woods around Penfield. I can't imagine that he would have ever enjoyed it ... just not who he was.

You know, none of the parties we went to were dance parties, or parties that had space for dancing. Most of them were studio parties where it was Peter's "job" to schmooze with all the other actors, directors, etc. under contract with the studio. They were mainly publicity parties where you are supposed to get your picture taken with someone you're co-starring with in a "soon to be released" film or TV program. Or get shots with your new "squeeze" ... you know, the kind of event that is shown over and over again on TV shows like ET and EXTRA. The private parties we went to were mostly "conversational" parties, where you either stay somewhat sober and get all intellectual and stuff, or you get really stoned, trippy, play music really loud, and lay back and enjoy "the vibe" (lol) ... we thought we were so cool!

Coffee, BLACK with a no-filter Camel cigarette. As I mentioned earlier somewhere, we mostly went to breakfast at his favorite place - can't remember the name

but it is no longer there. When I lived in LA in the late 70's, I went back to see the apartment and the places we had been together. The restaurant had been bulldozed and a new building was in it's place. I don't remember what he ordered for breakfast exactly but I want to say some kind of omelet because I remember having an omelet for the first time with him.

(continued) and they always had great food on set when he was filming so he would grab something there.

You've all seen Peter's style in the photographs ... no flowered shirts or rarely ... no bell-bottoms, though I had a few pair ... no Nehru jackets, though I had a few of those too. The night I met him, he had on tan cords and a corduroy shirt with a brownish t-shirt underneath and sandals, hair longish with the full mustache ... he looked very much the hippie. The most "dated" look he had was the wide-whale double-breasted corduroy jacket I gave him for Christmas in 1967 (in that snapshot at my parent's home in front of the Christmas tree). Casually, he had a kick-back look, nothing outlandish. But as you all know he cleaned up "real nice" - I loved him in that ivory suit. He shopped with me and chose the silver dress I wore that night. And he bought me the green lace mini (over pink satin) I wore in those other publicity shots of us together. He had very good taste I thought and he wore clothes very well.

Last one for now ... about the aftershave I agree with what Kim said.... Peter had a WONDERFUL natural smell. I do not remember any specific aftershave or cologne. I do have an olfactory memory of him just as I'm sure Kim does and every one of the women he loved and who loved him. That's it for now, take care all, ♥
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Tashmina

Tashmina

Posts : 124
Join date : 2013-08-24
Location : Toronto

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PostSubject: Transcript   Conversation with Beth EmptyFri Aug 30, 2013 2:40 pm

Thanks so much for posting this Keays. It offers such a good insight into the real man, and I'm glad it's warts and all too. She seems such a lovely woman and it is so generous of her to share. Please thank her when you chat to her next and I hope to see more insights of the real men on these threads.
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thewheatman



Posts : 22
Join date : 2013-09-14
Location : San Jose, CA

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PostSubject: Re: Conversation with Beth   Conversation with Beth EmptySat Sep 14, 2013 2:10 pm

Thanks for the response Beth. You have taken your time to talk to those of us who still love Pete after all theses years. I think it was very kind of you to share you relationship with us. You should be happy to know what this man meant to so many people years after his death. Once again thank you!
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