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One year ago: Peter Graves of ‘Mission: Impossible’ and ‘Airplane!’

March 14, 2011 |  6:26 am

 Peter Graves was a television star who made light of his image in a memorably comic movie role.

Graves was known to a generation of television viewers as James Phelps in the show "Mission: Impossible." But he joined other actors known for their serious images—Leslie Nielsen, Lloyd Bridges and Robert Stack—in the 1980 spoof "Airplane!"

He almost didn't do it.

"I read it and thought, 'Gee, this is dangerous,' " Graves told The Times in late 2009. "It was in terrible taste."

But the film's producer, Howard Koch, urged him to meet with the young filmmakers, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker, who told him that they wanted somebody of stature and dignity to play the role "absolutely straight," Graves recalled.

"They say you are supposed to stretch as an actor, so let's go stretch it," he said.

Graves, who starred in more than 70 television series and feature films, typically playing the straight-laced hero, died a year ago at 83.


--Keith Thursby




Peter Graves dies at 83

Classic Hollywood: 60 years in show business 

Photos: A look back at Graves' career

Hollywood walk of fame