Sunday, March 14, 2010

Obit: Peter Graves, R.I.P.

Peter Graves, who joined the cast of Mission: Impossible in its second year as mastermind Jim Phelps, passed away today at his home in California, just a few days shy of his 84th birthday.

As Phelps, the actor became a television (and spy-fi) icon, his rugged good looks, shocking white hair, earnest demeanor and resonant, amiable voice instantly identifiable to millions. He reprised the role from 1988 to 1990 in an updated revival of the series and parodied the character in the Hong Kong spy spoof Mad Mission III: Our Man From Bond Street.

The brother of Gunsmoke's James Arness, Graves had a long career in motion pictures and television, working for directors as varied as Billy Wilder and Bert I. Gordon. He made guest appearances on many television shows, and was the host of A&E's Biography from 1994 to 2006. Just yesterday, I was visiting my parents for few minutes, and saw him in a rerun of the police procedural Cold Case that happened to be playing on TV.

As I've said before, I first became exposed to Mission: Impossible with its 80's revival, but ever since then, I've been a great admirer of Mr. Graves. Now that I have all of the original seasons of M:I on DVD, I appreciate even more what he brought to the show and spy-fi genre.

Good evening, Mister Phelps. Rest well.

2 comments:

Tanner said...

Nice tribute. Man, Peter Graves dying is really bumming me out. I loved the guy, and I'm so sad we'll never get to see him act again and never get to see him reprise Jim Phelps one last time as JJ had intimated he might.

Randall said...

I had the privilege of watching Mr. Graves when he first joined the Mission: Impossible series. At first I was stunned that Stephen Hill's character was not the lead but it didn't take more than one episode before I recognized the strong, solid character Jim Phelps was. I greatly enjoyed each season and regretted when they finally ended. I also was sorry when, during the latter seasons, PC-ism took hold and it was no longer appropriate for American agents to overthrow dictators. The IM force turned its attention to domestic crime - still interesting but not as thrilling.

The first Mission: Impossible movie had the terrific actor Jon Voight playing a good eventual bad guy but the thought that Jim Phelps would EVER betray his country is disgusting. How's that for a loyal fan.