Christian living, Inspirational

I Met Billy the Kid

By Del Duduit

If you are anything like me, you have about 17 different irons in the fire at one time.

That has been my lifestyle for a while, but it has intensified over the past 20 months.

Over the course of my brief 51 years on earth, I have worn many hats, from retail to fast food.

With Geoffrey Deuel at the Roy Rogers Festival in Portsmouth, Ohio.

I spent the first few years of my married life in the media as a sports writer and general assignment reporter for a few local newspapers. Then I ventured into radio and an on-air gig as news director and eventually landed in television for a few years.

Being a part of the media was fun, but I wasn’t able to raise a family on that salary and had to switch gears into pharmaceutical sales for the past decade plus.

During my stint as a father of two active boys, I coached soccer, basketball, football, and baseball while they were young.

I’m also involved in some local social activities and organizations which are important to me. I somehow find time to serve on a few boards and attend church on a regular basis.

And if that wasn’t enough, I post a blog each Tuesday, write for at least three magazines and my first book – Buckeye Believer: 40 Days of Devotions for the Ohio State Faithful was just released. I have submitted my second and third manuscripts and will have my fourth sent off soon before we set sail on a cruise in Alaska.

But how do I want to be remembered?

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I asked Geoffrey Deuel that question the other day. Wait — who?

He’s the guy who played the infamous Billy the Kid in the John Wayne classic movie Chisum in 1970. I love that film. Not because it’s the Duke – well maybe – but because it’s an entertaining depiction of the cattle baron John Chisum, and also Billy the Kid.

“That movie was bigger than life,” he told me at the recent Roy Rogers Festival in Portsmouth, Ohio. “John Wayne was bigger than life at that time, and so many people saw it, and people still watch it. Some people have heard about some of the other things I did on TV, but they remember me mostly for playing Billy the Kid.”

Here is a snip-it of some of the many other roles he played.

  • Larry Crawford on The Young and the Restless.
  • Clint Dancer in Mannix.
  • Edgar Dorsey in the Planet of the Apes.
  • Inspector Glenn Decker in The Streets of San Francisco.
  • Ken Harris in Cannon.
  • Lester Wakefield on Barnaby Jones.
  • Mo on Ironside.
  • And other appearances on The Monkees, Bonanza, The Flying Nun and Adam 12.

Even with all of this on his resume, he’s still remembered and introduced as the man who played Billy the Kid in the epic Western, Chisum.

“I had a good career in TV and the movies, but playing Billy the Kid was the most fun I ever had,” Geoffrey said. “I had a big role with the biggest movie star ever, and we all got along great.”

Portraying a killer was not perhaps the most desirable role, but he managed to put Henry McCarty (AKA Billy the Kid) in a better light than the real-life legacy of this famous person in history.

Geoffrey Deuel (right with the rifle) and John Wayne in Chisum. (Wikipedia)

Henry was orphaned at 13 and had to do what was needed to survive. He got involved with the wrong crowd and was a gambler, a horse thief, and an outlaw. He killed eight men before he was gunned down at the age of 21 by Sheriff Pat Garrett on July 14, 1881, at Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

As I build my legacy, I have played many roles in life; son, grandson, brother, husband, father, coach, writer, author, friend, employee, board member, public servant, speaker, Christian and on and on.

Many people I come into contact with will remember me in one role or another. Unfortunately, there will be a few who will have a negative opinion, but that’s on me. But hopefully, about 90 percent of those individuals who have been a part of my life, even if it’s for a few minutes, will have a positive impression.

I cannot control people’s minds and opinions. But I can make the right decisions and learn from bad ones. My life will be one big movie trailer one of these days when I’m gone.  I want to have a popcorn machine at my funeral and a movie trailer playing on the big screen. Maybe I can get Bruce Willis to play me and Kate Beckinsale to play my wife (LOL.)

Will people recall me as a coach? Perhaps a community-minded person? Maybe an author? I hope they remember me as a good father and husband. It’s up to me to portray my roles with dignity and character.

What you do in life matters – to someone. Make your role in life important.

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I loved meeting Geoffrey because I have watched his performance in Chisum about 20 times. His performance made me think that Billy the Kid wasn’t that bad of a guy until he lost his way.

Have you gotten off course? You cannot change the past or what people think of you. But in the end, you need the Lord to know your name. He keeps track of all of your roles in life, and He will present you His version of the Oscars one day should your life movie win at the Box Office.

You don’t have to be a movie star to do great things. You can visit families at a local Hospice unit at night and take donuts to nurses. You can anonymously pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant or become involved in your kid’s activities. How people remember you will begin with your backstage audition.

But to do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices, God is well pleased. (Hebrews 13: 16 KJV)

What good can you do today? What role will you play? How will people remember your life’s accomplishments? Even if some of your work goes unnoticed in the eyes of the world, it’s okay if the Lord gets a sneak peek at your premier.

Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.

His first book — BUCKEYE BELIEVER – 40 Days of Devotions for The Ohio State Faithful –can be purchased on Amazon here.


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