The Way of the Word

15. March 2010

RIP Peter Graves

The American actor Peter Graves (Born March 18, 1926) died on Sunday at the age of 83. His birth name was Peter Aurness. He was the brother of James Arness (Marshal Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke).

At the age of 16, he worked as an announcer at the radio station WMIN in Minneapolis.

Peter Graves started his acting career with a small uncredited role in the 1942 movie Winning Your Wings, then got serious about it in 1951, when he played Pete Dandrige in the movie Rogue River. He kept working throughout his life, but he’s probably best known and remembered for two of his roles. One being Jim Newton in the children’s adventure series Fury (1955 – 1960).

The other being the far more famous part of Jim Phelps in Mission: Impossible (1967 – 1973 and again 1988 – 1990). In 1971, he was awarded an Emmy for Best Actor in a TV Series.

He refused to play Jim Phelps in the 1996 movie because he felt that making Phelps the villain violated the character.

For me, though, he will always be Captain Clarence Oveur from Airplane and Airplane 2.


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