I was very saddened Sunday night when I learned that legendary actor Peter Graves had passed away that afternoon at his home in California at age 83.
Graves got his start in Hollywood when he appeared in the 1952 low-budget science fiction film Red Planet Mars, in which he played a scientist who contacts Mars and receives a transmission back, claiming there is a Utopian civilization there. But perhaps his most famous role would come just a year later, when he played an undercover Nazi spy in a prison camp, Stalag 17. This was the first film I ever saw with Graves in it, and it remains my favorite performance of his to this day.
Graves then went back and forth from film to television, starring in Mission Impossible from 1966 to 1973, and reprising the role later on in a remake of the series from 1988 to 1990. He would appear in a spoof on Airport, titled Airplane, in what is his most comedic role.
Since the late 1980’s and early 90’s, Graves stayed away from appearing in movies, to make guest appearances on Murder: She Wrote, The Love Boat, Golden Girls, Diagnosis Murder, and more recently House M.D and Seventh Heaven.
The most lasting impression that Graves may leave does not come from any of the above mentioned roles, but for his work in the nonfiction A & E series Biography, which he hosted episodes, along with Jack Perkins, for twelve years, from 1994-2006. Reruns of his hosted episodes can still be seen on A & E as well as the channel Biography Network.
All in all, Graves was billed in 131 performances over his acting career, which spanned from 1942 until 2007. The narrator for the video game Darkstar, which was released in 2010, has Graves’ voice, so he really acted up until the very end. I have none seen a ton of his movies, but the small sampling I did get to view left me with enough of an impression that I will miss him. Rest in peace, Peter Graves.