EXPIRED: 03/14/10 – Peter Graves, 83, played the stoic, stern leader in “Mission Impossible” in the late 60s and then made the unfortunate decision to reprise his role in the less-than-forgettable 1988 version as the only returning original cast-member.
Luckily, he made the daring move to lampoon himself – at David Zucker’s brilliant insistence- in “Airplane! The Movie.”
Graves’ career began with cheaply made exploitation films like “It Conquered the World,” in which he battled a carrot-shaped monster from Venus, and “Beginning of the World,” in which Graves plays Dr. Wainright, a scientist who accidentally exposes some common grasshoppers to atomic radiation causing them to grow to gigantic proportions and go on a rampage in downtown Chicago. It’s so bad you have to see it.
He then took on the children’s show “Fury” before taking on self-destructing tapes in “Mission: Impossible.”
Born Peter Aurness, Graves adopted his grandfather’s last name to avoid confusion with his older brother, James Arness, who became a star first playing Marshal Matt Dillon on TV’s “Gunsmoke.” Older brother James had dropped the “U” from the family name.
Graves waited until he had some success in Hollywood until he called back home to Minnesota for his childhood sweetheart to join him. They were married for over 60 years, had three daughters and six grandchildren. It was nice that just a few short months ago he got his star on Hollywood Boulevard. Sadly, he collapsed after enjoying a pre-birthday brunch with his family. He would have turned 84 this Friday.