Monday, March 15, 2010

Peter Graves, 1926-2010, R.I.P.


As you may have heard, Peter Graves, best known for the role of Jim Phelps on TV's Mission: Impossible, has passed away at the age of 83, just a few days short of his 84th birthday. He was also known as the host of A&E's Biography, the role of Captain Clarence Oveur in Airplane! and its sequel, and several other projects...

But I first saw him as "Jim Newton" in TV's Fury, a show I watched with my sister in the late fifties, when I was just a teeny-tiny spud.

Peter Graves was born Peter Aurness, and was the younger brother of actor James Arness of Gunsmoke fame. (Brother James dropped the "u" -- professionally, anyway, as his two children were named Aurness -- soon after beginning his show biz career, at the behest of RKO Studios.) The family name had originally been Aursnes, but was changed by the brothers' grandfather, Peter Aursnes, when he immigrated from Norway in 1887. "Graves" was a surname from their mother's side of the family.

On his own website, James Arness has left a brief message about his brother's passing. Arness is quoted as saying "It was Pete that early in our lives suggested that I train to become a radio announcer which was the first step in our long careers in show business."

I don't have much to say about Mr. Graves other than he was a "class act," like many others whom I've eulogized here, briefly or otherwise.

And by the way... Mr. Graves wasn't at all pleased that they turned Jim Phelps into a traitor in the Mission: Impossible movie. And neither was I.

Thanks for your time.


  1. i had not heard that...sad. i loved the old M:I...

  2. I hadn't realized he was James Arness' younger brother until I saw the press releases last night. But now that I see that early picture of him I can see the family resemblance.

    I never watched the Airplane! movies. I did watch Mission Impossible, and I caught some of his Biography stuff. But my favorite role of his was when he played Palmer Kirby, Rhoda Henry's fling, in the two Herman Wouk miniseries' - The Winds of War and War and Remembrance.

    He'll be missed, but he left a fine legacy on film, so we can still visit him from time to time.

  3. Say it's not so! He was the hunkiest, hunkered, hunk of the MI team with the sexiest voice. I didn't realize he was related to Jim Arness until readying Roy's comment. But, he sure looks like him. We are all just gettin so old! I was a kid when he was middle aged. I will light a candle.

  4. I did not know that too .
    Thank you so much for letting us know.

    I can hear his voice,

    RIP Peter Graves, you shall be remembered.

    Have you a great week, David.


  5. I had the biggest crush on him as Jim Phelps! Loved that tv series!

  6. I haven't thought of "Fury" in the longest time. Loved that show!

    Interesting tidbit about the original family name.

  7. I must confess I was not familiar with Peter Graves, although I remember his brother in Gunsmoke. I am getting of the age when all too many obituaries are about people I remember well.

  8. Yep. I remember going online back the the days of "Prodigy" and he was a guest. We could all type in questions for him to answer. My question (that he selected) was pertaining to the "Jim Phelps-Traitor" bit they used in the movie. His response was along the lines of, "We worked for years on that show, and now because of this movie, millions are forever going to think that Jim Phelps was a bad guy."

  9. @Skip: Exactly! I read a quote by him when the movie came out, saying pretty much the same thing.

  10. Gee, Fox. You and I, think alike. We oughta, start thinking about, doing some, writing, together...

  11. [Silver Fox mutters "Damn! Look at all those commas. Work with this guy? It looks like he thinks he's writing Star Trek dialogue for Bill Shatner!"]

  12. He was a classy actor and had a great voice. I was listening to a piece on the radio about him this morning and that was hte first I had heard about his passing. I vaguely remember "Fury". The older guy in the photo looks really familiar.

  13. A Classy Geezer.God Bless Him.

  14. so, how do you think he felt about being famous for asking a little boy if he'd "...ever seen a grown man naked?" hahahahaha! It really is what he's remembered for. I wondered if James Arness was still around but you've answered that question. Norwegian, eh? Peter was rather handsome in his day and always looked like he'd be a very nice man if one met hiim on the street. "Fury"!!! You ARE dating yourself.


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