February 12, 1976 - April 12, 2000
by Michael Satterwhite
Some years back, the television series, "The Young Riders" had the young Jesse James as a character. My family has a legend that we are related to the James brothers, so the character intrigued me.
It was in this performance that I noticed Christopher Pettiet. He brought a sense of humanity to a character that grew up to be a terrible person. It is a given that Jesse didn't start out evil, however… he had started out as a
boy. It was this boy that Chris brought to life.
There was a feeling of tragedy that pervaded the character … and this tragedy could be clearly seen in Chris' eyes. I have no idea whether he was trying for that feel or not; I do know that it was there. This wasn't just my perception, I heard others that followed the series comment on the intensity in his eyes.
He did quite a bit of other work - I can strongly recommend "The Goodbye Bird" - but it is as Jesse James that I'll always remember him. In the last episode of the series, Jesse was riding back home. In my mind I could see the family tragedies that would create the outlaw, and I almost cried for the boy he had been.
Chris was a very talented young man who died far too young. Chris, like so many young people was pursuing fame. This was, unfortunately, not to be. I have no idea what problems led to his death. The specifics aren't really important. What is important is that another life has been cut short. We will never know the man he was becoming … and I cry for the boy he had been.
Rest in peace, Chris.