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Goodbye, Peter Graves...

Merrick here...
Peter Graves passed away yesterday from a heart attack - four days short of his 84th birthday. It's hard to know which role he'll be best remembered for: one generation knows him as IMF operative James Phelps in the 1960s television series MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE and its late 80s TV revival - a role later adapted by Jon Voight (with a controversial spin) in Brian De Palma's 1996 feature film adaptation of that show. A later generation will recall him as the chiseled-but-oblivious Captain Clarence Oveur in two AIRPLANE! movies. And somewhere in there he was retired Earth Space Marine flyer Major Noah Cooper in the "Return of the Fighting 69th" episode of NBC's BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25th CENTURY, and Price - a man who had more to him than met the eye - in Billy Wilder's STALAG 17. He was Palmer Kirby in Dan Curtis' sprawling WINDS OF WAR and WAR AND REMEMBRANCE miniseries, and the fated Ben Harper in director Charles Laughton's NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. He appeared in four episodes of THE LOVE BOAT, five episodes of (the original) FANTASY ISLAND, and was the real life brother of James Arness (Matt Dillon on GUNSMOKE). It's funny - until I started writing this article, I'd never realized what a fixture Mr. Graves was in my life - I suppose such hindsight this is often the case. One small example: I have deeply fond memories of seeing AIRPLANE! with my dad, over and over again. At a time when we weren't always as connected as we should've been, my father and I got a little closer by throwing dialogue from AIRPLANE! back-and-forth to each other. Turns out, many of those lines were Peter's. The list above is an admittedly small sampling of Mr. Grave's vast and varied body of work. He was a personality and a presence so distinctive that no other performer has come close to...well...doing whatever it was that Peter Graves. Nor will anyone ever come close to matching it. So, thank you sir...for the entertainment, for the smiles, and for the thrills you brought to us throughout the years. You will be missed, but never forgotten.

--- Follow Merrick on Twitter! ---

Readers Talkback
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  • March 15, 2010, 10:41 a.m. CST

    About time

    by rectalscan

    God speed Peter!

  • March 15, 2010, 10:42 a.m. CST

    Took you guys long enough to post this...

    by rectalscan

    About damn time

  • March 15, 2010, 10:42 a.m. CST

    Sad, but....

    by nerdlinger76

    ...he did not play the role of jim phelps in the movie version of Mission: Impossible. That was Jon Voight. Graves was asked, but he hated the way they treated the character. Still, RIP.

  • March 15, 2010, 10:43 a.m. CST

    he didnt reprise his role for the M:I movie

    by Bouncy X

    Jon Voight played his role.

  • March 15, 2010, 10:43 a.m. CST


    by FilmFan311

    My Favorite Comedy of All Time. Rest In Peace.

  • March 15, 2010, 10:44 a.m. CST

    surely destined to be..

    by rodvegas78

    forgotten at next year's Oscar tribute.. and don't call me Shirley!

  • March 15, 2010, 10:44 a.m. CST

    Do you like Gladiator movies?

    by redshirt

    Love it when an actor can have fun with his image. He was great.

  • March 15, 2010, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Goodbye Mr. Phelps


    I am gonna moss this guy! I always thought it was a shame that he didn't make an appearance in the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE films, and Jon Voight didn't cut the mustard as Phelps as far as I am concerned.

  • March 15, 2010, 10:50 a.m. CST

    Bouncy X

    by hst666

    That's what the article says

  • March 15, 2010, 10:52 a.m. CST


    by Denty420

    Do you like movies about gladiators?<br> Rest in peace, Mr Graves.

  • March 15, 2010, 10:53 a.m. CST

    then the article is obviously wrong

    by Bouncy X

    its not like Graves and Voight look similar. lol

  • March 15, 2010, 10:53 a.m. CST

    "You ever seen a grown man naked?"

    by Thanos0145

    RIP Mr. Graves

  • March 15, 2010, 10:55 a.m. CST

    when i think peter graves i think

    by kingoflight

    airplane !

  • March 15, 2010, 10:58 a.m. CST

    Killed by an exploding tape recorder.

    by cookylamoo

    Damn CIA low-bidder products.

  • March 15, 2010, 10:59 a.m. CST

    The ONLY Jim Phelps

    by Manos

    The firs movie was an abomination. Cruise and Co. should be flayed for making that character a traitor.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:10 a.m. CST

    This news is so cool...

    by MC_DLyte

    ... but this news is cooler and make my boners so happy

  • March 15, 2010, 11:11 a.m. CST

    Grave....WENT TO HIS GRAVE

    by PeanutButterSlut


  • March 15, 2010, 11:12 a.m. CST

    to the MST3K fans:

    by Celicynd

  • March 15, 2010, 11:12 a.m. CST

    "I just want to tell you both good luck...."

    by finky089

    Rest in Peace, Mr. Graves. Thank you for so many wonderful roles. And all the mile-high laughs.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:13 a.m. CST

    Just kidding...

    by PeanutButterSlut

    You were an officer and a gentlemen mr graves.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:13 a.m. CST

    To the MST3K fans..

    by Celicynd

    Who have seen Parts: The Clonus Horror. Tonight...on... Biography... [urgh]

  • March 15, 2010, 11:14 a.m. CST

    And STOP calling him Shirley!

    by finky089

  • March 15, 2010, 11:14 a.m. CST

    Jon Voight

    by PeanutButterSlut

    Was AMAZING in MI......... NIOT

  • March 15, 2010, 11:16 a.m. CST

    AIRPLANE! is one of the greatest comedies in the history of film

    by Ironhelix

    I have probably quoted that movie more than any other.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:19 a.m. CST

    never knew the joys

    by AKA_Gern_Blanston

    of seeing a grown man naked until Peter Graves came along. It wasn't mentioned but Graves showed up on an ep. of House a few seasons back, his girlfriend wanted House to secretly give him fake viagra because she was chaffing, and he wanted House to tell her he medically couldn't have sex as much because she was wearing him out. Funny little miscommunications but it was good at the time to see him still working. And though I can't watch the movie anymore as it's aged even worse than it was when it first hit, I think I recall Graves in MIBII. Whatever, a fond farewell to the REAL Jim Phelps. R.I.P.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:20 a.m. CST

    His first TV series

    by Sonny_Williams

    in the late '50s, FURY (The story of a horse, and the boy who loved him!) was my first exposure to Peter Graves' awesomeness. Then he replaced Steven Hill in the second season of M:I and made a great show even better. Like many others I was beyond pissed when the first M:I movie made Phelps a traitor; I applauded Graves' snub of that travesty. Mr. Graves, I DO like gladiator movies, but I LOVED everything you were a part of. Rest in peace, sir, and condolences to your family.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:20 a.m. CST


    by 40ozToFreedom

    AICN eugolies are always classy and personable, especially when the net is always filled with such insincere condolences. Always nice to read, under the circumstances.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:20 a.m. CST

    Oveur Over.

    by jimbojones123

    Somebody had to...

  • March 15, 2010, 11:22 a.m. CST


    by AKA_Gern_Blanston

    before it gets anymore out of hand. Yes, "And don't call me Shirley" is a quote from Airplane. But it was Leslie Neilsen that said it, not Graves. Save that one for the Frank Drebin obit.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:23 a.m. CST

    I'm Peter Graves. I'm outta here. I'm Peter Graves.

    by The Reluctant Austinite

    Damn, I'll never forget the number MST3K pulled on Pete, starting and ending every sentence with "I'm Peter Graves." I'll never forget Peter Graves hosting of the 70s Bigfoot documentary, "The Mysterious Monster", which scared the living crap out of me as a kid.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:23 a.m. CST

    No mention of his 1950's B-movie work? Come on, now.

    by Biggie Kaiju

    Dude was the star of Red Planet Mars, Killers From Space, It Conquered the World, and Beginning of the End. No mention of that, but you mention The Love Boat? Weak sauce. Unlike Peter Graves, who was strong sauce all the way. RIP

  • March 15, 2010, 11:24 a.m. CST

    finky, that was Leslie Nielson's line.

    by jimbojones123

    I still don't know if he will be over Macho Grande. What is his Vector, Victor? Down.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:27 a.m. CST

    He's Answering the White Courtesy Phone in Heaven

    by Aquatarkusman

    Or betraying William Holden in heaven, whatever floats your boat.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:29 a.m. CST

    what a cast airplane..

    by emeraldboy

    had. leslie nielsen, LLoyd bridges, robert Stack, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Julie Hagerty and robert Hayes.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:31 a.m. CST

    do we have clearance, clarance..

    by emeraldboy

    whats our vector victor?

  • March 15, 2010, 11:34 a.m. CST

    Yet another excuse to throw in Airplane!

    by SoylentMean

    Death is the stupidest of the stupid, which was covered by me calling it the stupidest.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:37 a.m. CST

    Another Excuse to Throw in Mysterious Monsters

    by BoggyCreekBeast

    Loved how serious Mr. Graves was in this Bigfoot/Loch Ness/Yeti movie! RIP.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:38 a.m. CST



    to believe he was only in 9:42 of Airplane..What a classic performance. Your mission Mr Phelps should you decide to accept it is to go into the Light. My condolences to his family.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:42 a.m. CST

    Roger Roger...

    by LargoJr

    Roger Over, over Under

  • March 15, 2010, 11:46 a.m. CST

    This coffin will self destruct in ...

    by MurderMostFowl

    Man, I'm sorry to see him go.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:46 a.m. CST

    Even in Airplane II he was funny...

    by MCVamp

    "Captain I think we have a computer foul-up." <br> "I see."<br> "Well what do you recommend, Captain?"<br> "Maybe you'd better run it through the computer."<br> "But sir...I already have!"<br> "Good!"

  • March 15, 2010, 11:46 a.m. CST

    The "what's your clearance, Clarence?" scene

    by gooseud

    pretty much changed the definition of "funny" in my 11 year old brain. I didnt get the Gladiator movie references at the time, but "What's your vector, Victor?", now THATS right in an 11 year old's wheelhouse. RIP Graves.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:46 a.m. CST

    You're finished in kaput!

    by kravmaguffin

    Stalag 17 is one of my all time favorite movies! This post will self destruct in 5 seconds..... goodbye Mr. Graves.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:47 a.m. CST

    He'll always be a traitorous Commie bastard to me

    by natecore

  • March 15, 2010, 11:48 a.m. CST

    Where Have All The People Gone?

    by Shoegeezer

    Anyone remember Graves in that? A great tv movie of the 1970's where a solar flare or something wiped out everyone except Graves' friends and family who were exploring a cave.Why no mention of his Corman flicks or exploitation stuff like Bayou? I think a better obit is called for here.

  • March 15, 2010, 12:12 p.m. CST

    "I'm Peter Graves...and welcome to the world of Discover."

    by Mr. Nice Gaius

    (I used to love Phil Hartman's random impression of Graves.) I finally saw STALAG 17 a few weeks ago and I had no idea that he played such a crucial role in the film.<P>Anyway, he always seemed like a class act. RIP, Mr. Graves.

  • March 15, 2010, 12:17 p.m. CST

    Glad AICN has dispensed with the tasteless obit headlines

    by Tinky Winky

    Was expecting something along the lines of "Captain Oveur, White Courtesy Coffin"...

  • March 15, 2010, 12:21 p.m. CST

    "Joey, have you ever been in a in a Turkish prison?"

    by newc0253

    "Joey, do you like it when Scraps grabs your leg and rubs up and down?"<p> a class act. RIP, sir.<p>

  • March 15, 2010, 12:21 p.m. CST


    by Ingeld

    I remember "Where Have All the People Gone." It was a good made for TV sci fi flick if I remember. I watched it with my Dad back in 70s. I wish he wasn't gone. RIP Mr. Graves.

  • March 15, 2010, 12:23 p.m. CST

    Lee Marvin, James Coburn - and now Peter Graves.

    by venvariants

    Leslie Nielson is the last of the White Haired Guys remaining..!

  • March 15, 2010, 12:24 p.m. CST

    Joey, have you ever been in a...

    by the_beard_of_Chuck_Norris a Turkish prison? <p> Years ago Peter Graves was on Mancow's radio show in Chicago. Peter loved quoting all the lines from the Airplane. He truly enjoyed when people would hit him with a line as well. It was an awesome interview. He was hilarious. <p> Mr. Graves you will be missed!

  • March 15, 2010, 12:24 p.m. CST

    Phil Hartman's Impersonation


    He did an impersonation of Peter Graves that was pretty magical. It was featured on an SNL parody of an 80's tv show called "Discover".

  • March 15, 2010, 12:28 p.m. CST

    "He learned almost too late..."

    by Triple_J_72

    "...that man is a feeling creature." <p> From one of my favorite MST3K episodes. R.I.P. Peter :-(

  • March 15, 2010, 12:28 p.m. CST

    Airplane:) good times....R.I.P

    by theDannerDaliel

  • March 15, 2010, 12:32 p.m. CST


    by Triple_J_72

    Uh... Steve Martin? Remember him? LOL

  • March 15, 2010, 12:32 p.m. CST

    Not all of them, venvariants

    by bah

    Don't forget Steve Martin.

  • March 15, 2010, 12:32 p.m. CST

    RIP Roy Disney.

    by wampa_one

    Thank you.

  • March 15, 2010, 12:34 p.m. CST

    Billy... Do you ever watch... Gladiator Movies?

    by ZoeFan

    Gets me every time.

  • March 15, 2010, 12:41 p.m. CST

    I never really cared for Mission: Impossible

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    except, like everyone else, I loved the theme. What I loved about Graves was of course the Airplane movies and I am so glad that Buck Rogers episode was mentioned up top. I loved how he spoofed his A&E Biography narrations in Men in Black II. That movie sucked, but Graves added class to it.

  • March 15, 2010, 12:41 p.m. CST

    And all that Airplane pedo stuff even in jest

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    would not make it past the big screen censors today, let alone tv.

  • March 15, 2010, 12:42 p.m. CST

    RIP Ed McMahon

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    No, we will never stop bitcing about this.

  • March 15, 2010, 12:43 p.m. CST

    RIP Merlin Olsen

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    His seasons on Little House were the best. This was just last week. There's still time Harry.

  • March 15, 2010, 12:51 p.m. CST

    Merlin Olsen

    by AKA_Gern_Blanston

    Was more of a sports star than one in Hollywood. Probably why he wasn't done on this site. McMahon and Disney were still greivous errors, though.

  • March 15, 2010, 12:56 p.m. CST

    He is responsible for my favorite bit in Airplane

    by NomoredirtyjokespleaseweareYanks

    The bit where Leslie Nielson is going through the theoretical food-poisoning symptoms, with Mr Graves drooling and convulsing on cue. FUCKING HILARIOUS!!!! They don't make 'em like that anymore.

  • March 15, 2010, 1:09 p.m. CST

    Peter Graves needs to smite Jon Voight & Tom Cruise from Heaven

    by SpyGuy

    What they did to Graves' character Jim Phelps in the first MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movie was absolutely appalling. I prefer to think Voight's version was named "Jym Fellpz" to differentiate him from The One True Phelps.

  • March 15, 2010, 1:12 p.m. CST

    It Conquered the World and Killers from Space!

    by Stan Arthur

    I can't decide which one was more unintentionally hilarious, hmmm, ping pong bals for eyes or the "flying fingers" of the space creature.

  • March 15, 2010, 1:16 p.m. CST

    Amen Spyguy...amen

    by Manos

  • March 15, 2010, 1:17 p.m. CST

    It's over for Capt. Over.

    by Billyeveryteen

    Mission accomplished.

  • March 15, 2010, 1:18 p.m. CST

    Peter Graves was the 1st voice of A&E's Biography too!!!

    by Drunken Busboy

    We can't forget that either!

  • March 15, 2010, 1:21 p.m. CST

    Give me Ham on 5, hold the mayo!

    by Kief_Ledger

    Airplane is my favorite comedy of all time. He will be missed.

  • March 15, 2010, 1:34 p.m. CST


    by finky089

    ah jebus christ on a popsicle stick, don't I feel embarassed! <p> As many times as i've seen that movie, I don't know WTF I was thinking. Ah, well. There's enough of Graves' real Airplane! lines on here to serve the purpose. <p> ("Give me Ham on 5, hold the mayo!" might be my favorite line in Airplane, btw.)

  • March 15, 2010, 1:38 p.m. CST

    As a child of the 70s I only knew Olsens as

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    John Garvey on Little House on the Prairie and Father Murphy until I grew up and learned of his football past. Merlin as a gentle badass. Check this out.

  • March 15, 2010, 1:42 p.m. CST

    I believe it was DeMayo

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    He's on a phone line so is Mr. Hamm who's on line five. Oveur has to talk to one first. Give me Hamm on five, hold DeMayo. Yeah, I know if you have to explain the joke it's not funny.

  • March 15, 2010, 1:46 p.m. CST


    by Kief_Ledger

    Don't mean to be a dick, but Oveur is talking to a doctor from the Mayo clinic. Remember the bouncing heart?

  • March 15, 2010, 1:50 p.m. CST


    by Darth Thoth

    Thanks for the great laughs and thrills over the years. May you rest in peace. God bless your soul.

  • March 15, 2010, 1:54 p.m. CST

    All of the sudden

    by Chadley BeBay

    People give two shits about Peter Graves? Fuckin leeches.

  • March 15, 2010, 1:56 p.m. CST

    And stood by a magazine rack

    by alan_poon

    with magazines listed as fiction/non fiction/ wacking material.

  • March 15, 2010, 2:01 p.m. CST

    finky, If I had not pulled the YouTube clip

    by jimbojones123

    For a blog during the olympics, I would not have remembered either.

  • March 15, 2010, 2:04 p.m. CST

    No, you're not being a dick

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    I guess it's been long time no movie. I stand corrected.

  • March 15, 2010, 2:21 p.m. CST


    by tatoosh

    I was watching the '99 remake of House on Haunted Hill at midnight on MTV on Saturday night...Peter Graves appears in an early scene in that movie on a television documentary about the history of the house on haunted hill that one of the characters is watching. I remember when I saw him in that scene I asked myself if Peter Graves was still with us or not. As it turns out, that moment was probably within hours, or minutes even, from his time of death. Hmmmm.

  • March 15, 2010, 2:25 p.m. CST


    by NippleEffect

    Corey Feldman is rapidly becoming an elder statsman in hollywood

  • March 15, 2010, 2:42 p.m. CST

    'Roger Roger, what's our vector Victor?'

    by Gabba-UK

    Quite possibly the greatest deadpan delivery performance in a comedy ever. The other candidate was in the same film. Goodbye Mr. Phelps.

  • March 15, 2010, 2:45 p.m. CST

    Merlin Olsen...

    by Lou Stools

    ...was a lousy butler!

  • March 15, 2010, 2:51 p.m. CST


    by hallaisen_olaisen

    Get yourself hold of Five Man Army and watch Peter Graves and his team (a samurai, Bud Spencer, an old fart and a mexican) do a heist in the old west! Dario Argento at the wheel. A splendid way to pay tribute to a fine actor!

  • March 15, 2010, 2:54 p.m. CST

    Steve Martin has white hair too!

    by Gorgomel

    hope he's not next. RIP Graves.

  • March 15, 2010, 3:05 p.m. CST

    Good luck Jim, this tape will self destruct in five seconds

    by Chuck_Chuckwalla

    Poof. RIP, Mr. Graves.

  • March 15, 2010, 3:11 p.m. CST

    Nobody has mentioned 'Whiplash'...

    by zinc_chameleon

    which was a long-running 1950's television show. That's where Peter Graves got his first big exposure.

  • March 15, 2010, 3:13 p.m. CST

    Steve Martin has had white hair for 40 years

    by V'Shael

    or something.

  • March 15, 2010, 3:16 p.m. CST


    by veritasses


  • March 15, 2010, 3:26 p.m. CST

    loosk like ai picked the wrong week to stop drinking

    by TakingScorpiosCalls

  • March 15, 2010, 3:27 p.m. CST

    Peter Graves Went Into the Grave

    by TakingScorpiosCalls

    Another Zingful Zing!

  • March 15, 2010, 3:28 p.m. CST

    RIP Charles B Pierce

    by TakingScorpiosCalls

    maker of Boggy Creek and The Town that Dreaded Sundown

  • March 15, 2010, 3:43 p.m. CST

    RIP Mr Graves

    by ominus

    thanx for the good times

  • March 15, 2010, 3:48 p.m. CST

    RIP Mr Graves

    by RedBull_Werewolf

    I've always wished he reprised the role of phelps in the fist mission impossible movie, even though i hated that they made him a traitor, it would have been great to see him in the role for one last time

  • March 15, 2010, 4:11 p.m. CST

    I was still hoping he might do a big-screen MI cameo.

    by Royston Lodge


  • March 15, 2010, 4:37 p.m. CST

    RIP Mr Graves

    by I am not a number

    I recall that he also did a tv movie in the 70s called "Where Have All the People Gone" where he and his family are some of the few survivors of a solar flare that irradiates the planet. Not great, but I'm a sucker for those "QUIET EARTH" types of stories.

  • March 15, 2010, 4:41 p.m. CST

    Watching Airplane as we speak

    by Denty420

    Joey, have you ever been in a, in a Turkish prison?

  • March 15, 2010, 5 p.m. CST

    I don't need to watch "Airplane!"

    by kabong

    Just thinking about it makes me laugh.

  • March 15, 2010, 5:19 p.m. CST


    by NeoMyers

    I thought the same thing when I saw this release. Sad, though. Airplane is hilarious.

  • March 15, 2010, 5:29 p.m. CST

    This is grave news.

    by Voice O. Reason

  • March 15, 2010, 5:30 p.m. CST

    Voice O. Reason

    by Denty420

    Ba-dum, tschhh!<br> Try the veal, it's wonderful.

  • March 15, 2010, 5:41 p.m. CST

    Roger....Huh? Roger, Over.......Huh?..What?..Who?

    by otm shank

    Airplane was one of the funniest movies ever.<p> RIP Sir.

  • March 15, 2010, 5:51 p.m. CST

    Goodbye Pete.

    by The Dark Nolan

    I'll never watch "Gladiator" without thinking of you.

  • March 15, 2010, 5:56 p.m. CST

    I love Airplane! Stories

    by cymbalta4thedevil

    Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker said in an Interview once that Peter Graves' wife literally fell out of her seat at the Airplane! premiere because she was laughing so hard at her husband's performance.Imagine being Peter Graves' wife watching those scenes!<br /><br />I also love that Lloyd Bridges wasn't sure if he should do it or not so he gave the script to his sons, and Jeff and Beau both told him it was one of the funniest things they'd ever read and he had to do it. Graves, Stack and Nielsen were all great in Airplane! but Lloyd Bridges just knocked it into the stratosphere."Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop Sniffin' Glue!"

  • March 15, 2010, 6:15 p.m. CST

    Mission Impossible in the 1980's

    by JimmyPasta

    Graves came back for this show during a writers strike. It was filmed in Australia and used old MI scripts with updated story lines. I liked it better then the old one. Greg Morris' son also starred. "Did you ever see a grown man naked?"-That quote pops up everytime I hear someone say "Anymore questions?" at work or on TV.

  • March 15, 2010, 6:27 p.m. CST

    Yeah, thanks a bunch Cruise & DePalma...

    by JayLenoTookMyJob

    ...For making this dude's best-known character a villain for no good reason. Graves was always pissed about that and I can understand his point. He put years into a character and established Phelps as a patriotic guy fighting the tough fights for his country only to have that character become a traitor in the feature film. Cruise & DePalma... gaywads!

  • March 15, 2010, 6:31 p.m. CST

    Stalag 17 Screens This Saturday On TCM

    by BlameItOnTheBoogiePop

    Turner Classic Movies already had Stalag 17 scheduled to show this Saturday (3/20) at 2:00 PM EDT. I wouldn't be surprised if they add some of his other films to the schedule in response to the news.

  • March 15, 2010, 6:40 p.m. CST

    And one more thing...

    by JayLenoTookMyJob

    ...Phelps was IT for me as far as super-spy characters went. Someone like Bond was an unobtainable ideal for a nerdy little suburban kid. One could never hope to ever get a chance to study at Eton or Oxford, or get extensive training in every form of martial art plus scuba AND sky diving. Graves, however, endowed Jim Phelps with a sort of workingman coolness. He looked sharp, but not more so than a well-dressed businessman. He tended not to rely on too many gadgets outside of the usual self-exploding tape recorder. He just planned out a job, no matter how impossible it seemed, then he got the job done with the help of his team of experts. (Hell, he had a team of experts, Bond would always end up getting anyone who helped him killed). So anyway, that's why I preferred Jim Phelps, he made the spybiz seem like a hard, yet rewarding career any snot nosed kid could maybe aspire to one day. The average Joe super-spy. So long, Mr. Phelps. This posting will self-destruct whenever Harry's webmaster gets around to cleaning out the caches.

  • March 15, 2010, 6:56 p.m. CST

    Blame Tom Cruise ONLY! He was the producer!

    by planetran_fan

  • March 15, 2010, 6:56 p.m. CST

    Goodbye Mr. Phelps. We'll never disavow knowledge of you!

    by planetran_fan

  • March 15, 2010, 7:06 p.m. CST

    Great actor in anything.

    by BurnedNotice_Dude

    This post will self destruct after five seconds.

  • March 15, 2010, 7:32 p.m. CST


    by JayLenoTookMyJob

    ...Yeah. That's actually a good bit of smart philosophy for any given situation... "Blame Tom Cruise!" I like! (Now someone has to start using it as his Talkback name.)

  • March 15, 2010, 7:36 p.m. CST

    He was in a LOT of movies featured on MST3K...

    by JackIsLost


  • March 15, 2010, 7:37 p.m. CST

    Mr. Graves.. thanks

    by Dark Doom

    Dude you fucking rocked.

  • March 15, 2010, 7:58 p.m. CST

    Wow just realized he was in Stalag 17

    by TakingScorpiosCalls

    After it was mentioned a few posts up. Never realized that dashing strangely Germanic prisoner was him...

  • March 15, 2010, 9:22 p.m. CST

    You need to see Stalag 17

    by DDMAN26

    It's a fantastic movie. Very dark and very funny. I can never choose between it and Sunset Blvd as my favorite Wilder film.

  • March 15, 2010, 9:23 p.m. CST

    James Arness ...

    by I Max U Mini

    ... was born James Aurness and only removed the U from his name. Peter Aurness changed his last name completely. It's hard to believe James is still around and Peter was his "little" brother.

  • March 15, 2010, 9:28 p.m. CST

    Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?

    by The_Crimson_King

    You ever seen a grown man naked?

  • March 15, 2010, 9:28 p.m. CST

    Joey, have you ever been in a... in a Turkish prison?

    by The_Crimson_King

  • March 15, 2010, 9:37 p.m. CST

    Shiiiiit, maaaaan.

    by The_Crimson_King

    That honky muf' be messin' mah old lady... got to be runnin' cold upside down his head, you know?

  • March 15, 2010, 9:37 p.m. CST

    Hey home', I can dig it.

    by The_Crimson_King

    Know ain't gonna lay no mo' big rap up on you, man!

  • March 15, 2010, 9:38 p.m. CST

    I say hey, sky... subba say I wan' see...

    by The_Crimson_King

  • March 15, 2010, 9:38 p.m. CST


    by The_Crimson_King

  • March 15, 2010, 9:38 p.m. CST

    ...pray to J I did the same ol' same ol'!

    by The_Crimson_King

  • March 15, 2010, 9:39 p.m. CST

    Hey... knock a self a pro, Slick!

    by The_Crimson_King

    That gray matter backlot perform us DOWN, I take TCB-in', man!

  • March 15, 2010, 9:39 p.m. CST

    Hey, you know what they say: see a broad to get dat booty yak 'e

    by The_Crimson_King

  • March 15, 2010, 9:39 p.m. CST

    ...leg 'er down a smack 'em yak 'em!

    by The_Crimson_King

  • March 15, 2010, 9:40 p.m. CST

    COL' got to be! Y'know? Shiiiiit.

    by The_Crimson_King

  • March 15, 2010, 9:52 p.m. CST


    by Denty420

  • March 15, 2010, 10:05 p.m. CST

    "I'm Peter Graves, and I'm in the right class."

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    "Crow, when you were writing this, did you think of the redundancy factor, or not......?"

  • March 15, 2010, 10:14 p.m. CST


    by kabong

    For IM Force fans who do not know, Peter Graves was in an unsold pilot called "Call To Danger," which had a similar premise to "Mission: Impossible." Supposedly it was to have been his next series when Mission got disavowed. <P> <P> It would be nice if someone found a copy in a vault.

  • March 15, 2010, 10:46 p.m. CST


    by VomitousMass

    For some reason that old Buck Rogers episode with him in it is one of the only ones I remember really clearly from when I was a kid, partly because he's in it and I always loved him as a kid. I noticed and watched it on Netflix streaming less than a week ago. Then I looked him up on IMDB and thought "ahh, how comforting that Peter Graves is still among us in his 80s..." and now this. Fuck.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:53 p.m. CST


    by MrLongbaugh

    I loved that movie too. It took me forever to remember the name of it.

  • March 16, 2010, 1:50 a.m. CST

    Where Have all the People Gone?

    by VomitousMass

    Yeah, that was a creepy one... tame by apocalypse movie standards, but it had that grainy 70s made-for-TV "stench" about it, and creepy lo-fi flute melodies like one of those old "In Search Of" episodes. I saw the whole thing on Youtube awhile back. Wished I'd seen it when I was 9... It would have scared the crap out of me but I would have loved every minute of it.

  • March 16, 2010, 1:52 a.m. CST

    Damn. That's sad news.

    by Motoko Kusanagi

    Now, I'm gonna watch some old M:I episodes on VHS...... *runsoff*

  • March 16, 2010, 2:12 a.m. CST

    The Shat would have been pissed, too!

    by wtriker1701

    IF they'd replaced him with another James T. Kirk! <p> Oh, have they? <p> Thank god, it's just a younger version, not some overacting bad villain... <p> Peter Graves, RIP! <br> You're next to William Shatner my childhood heroes and could NEVER be replaced!

  • March 16, 2010, 4:30 a.m. CST

    just for all of you that are wanting it...

    by BadMrWonka

    the bit where Kareem gets up in the kid's face and says what we all wanted to about Bill Walton...<p> <p> RIP Peter

  • March 16, 2010, 5:44 a.m. CST


    by Aphex Twin

    Why do people have to die??? Why God why? RIP Mr Graves, you have kept me entertained my entire life from M:I to your awesome Geico commercial. God I swear to Christ you better stay away from Mel Brooks or I'm going to beat the crap out of every Mormon I find.

  • March 16, 2010, 10:01 a.m. CST

    Goobye Peter Graves (to the tune of "Norma Jean"),

    by The Reluctant Austinite

    from way back in the movie theater back row, a young man who sees you as something more than an actor, more than just the dude in "It Conquered the World". It seems to me you lived your life like an actor in the biz, never knowing how to say no to "The Beginning of the End". They would have liked to have known you, but they were just kids. "Airplane" came out long before their parents ever did it.

  • March 16, 2010, 10:14 a.m. CST


    by jeffff

    The show was "Fury" from 1955-1960. He played Jim Newton, owner of the Broken Wheel Ranch with Pete, his top hand, who says he cut his teeth on a branding iron and Fury, King of the Wild Stallions. (God, I'm old)

  • March 16, 2010, 1:29 p.m. CST

    from a Turkish Prison...

    by Wirraway

    ... I guess the IMF rescue team will be delayed indefinitely.

  • March 16, 2010, 1:58 p.m. CST

    They asked his secretary for a quote for the obit...

    by redfang

    ...but she said she'd never heard of him.

  • March 16, 2010, 5:10 p.m. CST

    The IRONY of Cruise & DePalma FUCKING UP MI: 1...

    by Big Dumb Ape

    I have to agree with those harping on Cruise and DePalma for turning Jim Phelps into a villain for MI:1. Come on, if you were Graves -- short of being in dire, dire need of a paycheck (which obviously Graves wasn't) -- would YOU have accepted the offer to reprise your most famous role, only to have your TV iconic and heroic character now turned into a bloodthirsty killer? Graves had a reason to be pissed at the movie, and it's an understandable one. Cruise and DePalma basically took a major league shit on Graves' work.<p>IF Cruise/DePalma had gotten Graves to reprise the role -- okay, fine, then you have some fun stunt casting. The original actor reprising his most famous role and doing a big twist on it. But once Graves said "no"...and once you had to cast a new actor to play the part of the villain (Jon Voight)...there was absolutely NO value to having the character being Jim Phelps anymore. It could simply have been an older agent and mentor, still been the guy who trained Cruise and brought him up through the ranks -- but again, that didn't mean it had to be Phelps.<p>And that's the irony to Cruise and DePalma fucking up MI. Ultimately, Cruise (as lead actor and producer) must have figured "I'm going to replace Jim Phelps/Peter Graves and I'M now going to be the famous, iconic face of MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE. Whenever people think of MI from now on, they will think of me!"<p>Well, suck it, Tom. The movies for the most part were utter shit -- action movies committing the ultimate sin of bordering on pure boredom -- and when I think of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE I don't give a rat's ass about Ethan Hunt and I couldn't give a fuck if that character lives or dies or ever returns. But when I hear that great theme music, I DO still think of Peter Graves and Jim Phelps -- the TRUE face and REAL hero to the franchise.

  • March 16, 2010, 5:23 p.m. CST

    Peter Graves vs Giant Grasshoppers - HELL YEAH!

    by Big Dumb Ape

    RIP, Mr. Graves. Thanks for all the great work and memories that will truly live on. When people talk about actors on movie sites they'll get into all sorts of things that make them a personal favorite. But frankly, I couldn't give a crap what movie someone like Sean Penn will over-act in next to loudly declare "See, world? I'm a dramatic ACTOR!!!"<p>On the other hand, to a kid who grew up loving giant monster movies, you starring in BEGINNING OF THE END will always be a geek love of mine and will stand the test of time far, far longer. Let's see Sean Penn kick giant grasshopper butt and see how he does then! It takes a great actor to do sci fi, suspense, horror, drama, comedy, movies, TV, and do them all well, which you did. So bravo, sir, and thanks for all the lingering memories. Classics like AIRPLANE would never have existed without talent such as yours.

  • March 16, 2010, 9:49 p.m. CST

    You got it, Ape.

    by kabong

    The rebooters deliberately try to destroy the properties preceding their version--presumably in the vain hope that no one will make comparisons. Cruise knew he couldn't compete, even by hogging the screen.

  • March 17, 2010, 12:08 a.m. CST


    by Pig_Ignorant

    He had the unique ability to make the audience laugh whilst still being... well, grave.

  • March 17, 2010, 8:05 a.m. CST

    ask for him today and you will find him a Very Grave man!

    by killianx

    Sorry Shakespeare reference!