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"Joey, do you like movies about Gladiators?"
March 14, 2010 9:09 PM   Subscribe

"Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?" Veteran actor Peter Graves--who was the star of the original Mission Impossible TV series, most famously (for some of us) played Capt. Oveur in Airplane!, and was the Emmy-winning host of Biography--has died of natural causes. He was 83.
posted by zardoz (93 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?
posted by exlotuseater at 9:10 PM on March 14, 2010


Have you ever seen an grown man naked?
posted by heyho at 9:11 PM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


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even though I have a son named Joey
posted by lukemeister at 9:11 PM on March 14, 2010


It's over, Oveur.
posted by yhbc at 9:12 PM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?

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posted by Madamina at 9:14 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by dealing away at 9:17 PM on March 14, 2010


As a Minnesota native, I think you mean "Minnesota-native" Peter Graves.

Nobody could save the planet from oversized insects like the Arness brothers. They will be missed. Especially when the giant insects take over.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:18 PM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


I just wanted to say good luck, we're all counting on you.

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posted by tracicle at 9:19 PM on March 14, 2010 [24 favorites]


Jim Phelps was one of my childhood heroes (yes, seriously). The worst thing about the Cruise remakes of Mission: IMPOSSIBLE was that they turned Phelps into a villain. Simply inexcusable.

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(Both for Peter Graves and for Mr. Phelps' reputation)
posted by darkstar at 9:20 PM on March 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


Peter Graves played a different kind of spy, a kind we don't have these days on TV and in movies.

But he shouldn't have had the fish.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:25 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Before all the jokes, he was in one of the all-time best.
posted by stargell at 9:25 PM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's a special place in Heaven for actors like Graves, who can take their sober, serious gravitas and use it to create comedy by asking a young boy "Do you like it when Scraps grabs your leg and rubs up and down?"
posted by fatbird at 9:25 PM on March 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


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posted by strangememes at 9:26 PM on March 14, 2010


Surely, they're not serious?
posted by dr_dank at 9:27 PM on March 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hope the first person to read his will has a perfect memory, because it'll self-destruct five seconds later.

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posted by George_Spiggott at 9:27 PM on March 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Peter Graves Goes To College
posted by Cyrano at 9:30 PM on March 14, 2010 [5 favorites]



posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:30 PM on March 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


I just wanted to say good luck, we're all counting on you.

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posted by otolith at 9:32 PM on March 14, 2010


oh crap, I guess I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

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posted by lalex at 9:35 PM on March 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


and stop calling me Shirley
posted by scottMontgomery at 9:35 PM on March 14, 2010


Well I can make a hat, or a brooch...
posted by nathancaswell at 9:38 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Aw, man.

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posted by oinopaponton at 9:39 PM on March 14, 2010


Oh, it's a big pretty white plane with red stripes, curtains in the windows and wheels and it looks like a big Tylenol.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:39 PM on March 14, 2010


If this thread can convince at least one person out there that Peter Graves went to the University of Minnesota, then it's done its job.

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posted by Pope Guilty at 9:39 PM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Peter Graves is getting the "A-list celebrity death" treatment in the various blogs.

AND LEON'S GETTING LARRRRRGERRRRRRRR
posted by Damn That Television at 9:40 PM on March 14, 2010




I just wanted to say good luck, we're all counting on you.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:45 PM on March 14, 2010


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posted by Kevin Street at 9:48 PM on March 14, 2010




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posted by rtha at 9:50 PM on March 14, 2010


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posted by cerebus19 at 9:53 PM on March 14, 2010


The secretary is now disavowing all knowledge of his actions.

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(Airplane? please. The man is and always will be Jim Phelps, the greatest agent the IMF ever deployed.)
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 10:04 PM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


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posted by reductiondesign at 10:05 PM on March 14, 2010


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posted by doctor_negative at 10:26 PM on March 14, 2010


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posted by Pronoiac at 10:32 PM on March 14, 2010


After years of thinking about it, I guess it's now too late to tell him, yes, I do kinda like gladiator movies.
posted by maxwelton at 10:41 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


"They sense I'm Peter Graves."

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posted by MrVisible at 11:01 PM on March 14, 2010


He was also in Night of the Hunter.
posted by PHINC at 11:08 PM on March 14, 2010


As a kid, I knew Graves as Major Noah Cooper, commander of the Fighting 69th Earth/Space Marine Squadron on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. So for my first 20 viewings of Airplane, Graves' comedic genius was his ability to deadpan Oveur as Major Cooper as James Phelps (Mission Impossible). His delivery is just so perfect.

This is all by design, of course. It was really quite brilliant of "ZAZ" to cast Graves with Robert Stack, Leslie Nielsen, and Lloyd Bridges -- all hyper-refined/versatile/consistent actors. But it's Graves' delivery that floors me to this day. As David Zucker said of the cast, "these were people, who up to that time, had never done comedy. We thought they were much funnier than the comedians of that time were." Onward and upward, Major Cooper.

Oh, and this.
posted by prinado at 11:13 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by somnambulist at 11:23 PM on March 14, 2010


So, you're saying that gold is long, and thin, like.... Kareem Abdul-Jabbar!
posted by Rat Spatula at 11:27 PM on March 14, 2010


Oh man. I remember rushing out after dinner to catch reruns of Mission: Impossible when I was in grade school. The theme and the opening sequence will always bring to mind a picture of Peter Graves - the embodiment of the cool, professional secret agent and, to my young eye, a more compelling character than the campy Bond played by Roger Moore. When I finally watched Airplane! years later in college, seeing Graves as Captain Oveur cemented his place in my pantheon of favorites. I'm sorry to see him pass, but I'm glad it's not due to some scandalous drug overdose or wasting disease.

I'm just hoping he didn't have the fish.

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posted by ooga_booga at 11:29 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


A few years back on the Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio, they somehow got off onto an Airplane! non-sequitir. One thing leads to another, and they managed to get Peter Graves on the phone. Graves said that at first he absolutely refused to do the movie, but that he was talked into it after a while. He was certain that it was going to be a black mark on his career. The big night comes for the premiere in front of a bunch of Hollywood muckity mucks, and it's not long at all before they're rolling in the aisles laughing.
posted by azpenguin at 11:39 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Peter Graves in Night of the Hunter.
posted by PHINC at 12:03 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by gcbv at 12:06 AM on March 15, 2010


If I missed the first five minutes of Mission Impossible, I had no idea what was going on. I still watched it.

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posted by queensissy at 12:11 AM on March 15, 2010


Now that was a movie trailer...
posted by bicyclefish at 12:25 AM on March 15, 2010


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posted by juv3nal at 12:50 AM on March 15, 2010


I loved Mission Impossible growing up and I'm still ticked off that they made Phelps a villain in the movies. Graves was one of the first actors whose name I actually remembered.

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posted by Joey Michaels at 12:50 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, I do like movies about Gladiators. Why?
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:51 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by slimepuppy at 12:52 AM on March 15, 2010


Three MST3K videos so far, and I'm sure there will be more to come.

...on A&E's Biography.

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posted by JHarris at 12:59 AM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


One last song for the folks.
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:00 AM on March 15, 2010


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Wow, I have an aunt who went to Washburn with him, and I was lucky enough to run into to him once at the MSP luggage carousel after a harried trans-atlantic flight.
posted by Sphinx at 1:10 AM on March 15, 2010


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posted by Feisty at 2:18 AM on March 15, 2010


I was lucky enough to run into to him once at the MSP luggage carousel after a harried trans-atlantic flight.

He was the pilot?
posted by pracowity at 2:20 AM on March 15, 2010


The question is: where will be Peter's grave?

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posted by bwg at 2:43 AM on March 15, 2010


Me: Peter Graves died today.
Friend: Really? From what?
Me: I can't tell.
Friend: You can tell me, I'm your friend.
Me: No, I mean I'm just not sure.

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posted by WolfDaddy at 2:50 AM on March 15, 2010 [10 favorites]


Can you direct me to the natatorium? I'm Peter Graves.

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posted by DU at 3:02 AM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Good evening, Mr. Phelps.

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posted by hal9k at 3:18 AM on March 15, 2010


The poison goes to work on the central nervous system, causing severe muscle spasms followed by the inevitable drooling. At this point, the entire digestive system collapses accompanied by uncontrollable flatulence. Until finally, the poor bastard is reduced to a quivering wasted piece of jelly.
posted by hal9k at 3:20 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by Hastur at 4:14 AM on March 15, 2010


He was perfectly cast in Stalag 17, too.
posted by pmurray63 at 4:29 AM on March 15, 2010


In 2008 Mr. Graves along with Leslie Nielsen, Robert Hayes, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Leslie Neilsen reunited on the Today Show to discuss airplane.
posted by waraw at 5:05 AM on March 15, 2010


He had me from Killers From Space.

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posted by Splunge at 5:35 AM on March 15, 2010


Perhaps the greatest against-type performances evar. Sad to see him go.

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posted by Thorzdad at 5:41 AM on March 15, 2010


Now who will narrate my "documentary" on the alien connection to the JFK assassination?!?

Seriously, sorry to the Graves family.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:47 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by jquinby at 6:48 AM on March 15, 2010


I'd give you my impression of Peter Graves, but unfortunately, I don't do impressions. My training's in psychiatry.

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posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:50 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by CitizenD at 6:57 AM on March 15, 2010


I haven't seen anything like this since the Anita Bryant concert.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:22 AM on March 15, 2010


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posted by mike3k at 7:35 AM on March 15, 2010


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posted by condour75 at 7:54 AM on March 15, 2010


In his honor I think I will make a hat, or a brooch, or a pterodactyl.

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posted by pointystick at 8:05 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by mistersquid at 8:08 AM on March 15, 2010


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posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:04 AM on March 15, 2010


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posted by Mister_A at 9:18 AM on March 15, 2010


It's amazing that he had such a spectacular career with such a terrible memory. As you may recall, every week on Mission Impossible he would have to flip through portfolio pictures of potential team members because he evidently couldn't remember what they looked like.
posted by digsrus at 9:36 AM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Good for him for appreciating and embracing the whole new direction his career took after that first "Airplane!" movie. As another son of Minnesota, I am proud he's one of ours.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:51 AM on March 15, 2010


Not too familiar with anything except M:I and Airplane! - but that's all we really need to know, isn't it? Absolutely amazing. And I love all of you for the comments in this thread. Even typed, they make me laugh.
posted by davidmsc at 10:02 AM on March 15, 2010


I haven't felt this awful since we saw that Ronald Reagan film.

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posted by tommasz at 10:16 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Excuse me Mr, are you Peter Graves? Cuz I could use just a little direction....


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posted by lumpenprole at 10:30 AM on March 15, 2010


He has the distinction of appearing in more movies used by MST3K than any other actor.

And also being brilliant in Stalag 17, but whatever.

Who will narrate the Peter Graves episode of Biography?

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(Or, for his role as Captain Oveur, ! )
posted by tzikeh at 11:02 AM on March 15, 2010


Who will narrate the Peter Graves episode of Biography?

He did.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:15 AM on March 15, 2010


I just spent an inordinate amount of time putting this together, gaving utterly failed to thoroughly check yesterday's posts. I'll be damned if I'm letting it go to waste:

He chose to accept it.
March 15, 2010 12:03 PM
Peter Graves has died, four days short of his 84th birthday.
While still a teenager, he was a radio announcer in his native Minnesota. Eventually, he followed his older brother James Arness (of Gunsmoke fame) to Hollywood, and even starred in his own short-lived Western, Whiplash. His early film roles included turns in the eminently spoofable It Conquered The World as well as the critically acclaimed Stalag 17 & The Night of the Hunter.[more inside]
Graves starred in the popular Mission: Impossible TV series in the late 60s-early 70s, playing Jim Phelps, the leader of a team of undercover US government agents sent on assignment all over the world. He became a star all over again in 1980 when he spoofed his own suave tough guy image as Captain Clarence Oveur in Airplane!, and reprised his role in Airplane II: The Sequel. (He even spoofed the spoof years later with AirTran's Internetiquette videos.) He then went on to host the long-running television series Biography, and was honored with his own episode in 1997.

Graves had been married to Joan Endress since 1950, and they had three daughters.
posted by yiftach at 12:11 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


And also having utterly failed to spellcheck my opening.
posted by yiftach at 12:36 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by brundlefly at 1:40 PM on March 15, 2010





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posted by dyslexictraveler at 4:54 PM on March 15, 2010


I've always loved his voice, and the steely determination and smarts of Jim Phelps. I constantly quote his best lines from Airplane, and proud he was also from my home state. He'll be missed ... until the next rerun of Mission: Impossible

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posted by kuppajava at 5:50 PM on March 15, 2010


Am I the only one who remembers him from The Beginning of the End (giant grasshoppers) and It Conquered the World (weird alien mushroom)? Ah, "The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones."
posted by SPrintF at 8:08 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, Lord, no! I'm now having flashbacks to Saturday afternoons with Moona Lisa on Science Fiction Theater! "Hello, earthlings!"
posted by SPrintF at 8:14 PM on March 15, 2010


aww, I'm sad he died. I really liked him. Something likably gentle about his demeanor and voice, which conveyed a quietly considerate and good man. Enjoyed him in the TV series, Fury, and especially as Jim Phelps. Condolences to his wife, three daughters and six grandchildren.
posted by nickyskye at 10:04 PM on March 15, 2010


Interesting. As Joey Michaels said above, Peter Graves was, for me also, one of the first actors whose name I remembered as a kid. But I tie it in to my father working for Allstate, who sponsored M:I (at least a season), and made a big deal about it to their own employees. Dad had some promo material he brought home.

He did good, he got old, and he died. He left behind lots of good memories.

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posted by Goofyy at 10:24 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


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