Peter Graves, who starred in “Mission: Impossible” and films including Stalag 17 and Airplane! died of natural causes in Pacific Palisades, California, on Sunday. He was 83.
Graves played leader Jim Phelps in the “Mission: Impossible” series for six seasons, and then returned in 1988 for ABC’s remake of the series. He also starred as Capt. Clarence Oveur in the 1980 comedy Airplane! and its sequel.
Born Peter Aurness in Minneapolis, Graves entered showbiz at an early age — he was a radio announcer at age 16. Following a stint in the Air Force, he studied drama at the U. of Minnesota. Upon graduation he came to Hollywood, where his older brother James Arness was already starring in “Gunsmoke.” Graves’ first film was 1951’s “Rogue River.” A host of smaller roles in films, mostly Westerns, and TV followed, including horror films such as “Killers From Space.”
Among his film credits were a German spy in 1953’s Stalag 17, directed by Billy Wilder, and The Yellow Tomahawk.
In the 1960s, he turned to TV and played the lead in NBC series “Fury,” as well as “Whiplash” in 1960-61. He had recurring roles on “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island” and “7th Heaven.”
In later years, Graves was the host of “Biography” on A&E.