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.