Birthday: March 18, 1926
Died At Age: 83
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Peter Duesler Aurness
Born in: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Famous as: Actor
Height: 6'4" (193 cm), 6'4" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Joan Graves (m. 1950–2010)
father: Peter Duesler Aurness
mother: Ruth Aurness
siblings: James Arness
Died on: March 14, 2010
Cause of Death: Heart Attack
City: Minneapolis, Minnesota
U.S. State: Minnesota
education: West High School (Minneapolis, Minnesota),Southwest High School (Minneapolis),University of Minnesota
Who was Peter Graves?
Peter Graves was an American actor who acted in several movies, and television shows. He had a more successful career on television, than movies. In his early days, Graves was inclined towards sports and music. He served in the ‘Untied States Army Air Forces,’ for a brief period. Later, he developed a liking for acting and received accolades for his performances. Graves made his acting debut with the movie ‘Rogue Rivers.’ Followed by this, Graves performed in several movies, such as ‘Stalag 17,’ ‘The Long Gray Line,’ and ‘The Ballad of Josie.’ He is remembered for his character in the comedy movie ‘Airplane!’ and its sequel, ‘Airplane II: The Sequel.’ Peter Graves performed several memorable characters in television shows. He is best remembered for his character ‘Jim Phelps’ in the television series ‘Mission: Impossible.’ The original series had a successful run of over six years. Graves received a ‘Golden Globe Award,’ for his performance in this series. Graves portrayed the same character in its second part. He performed major roles in several television series, including ‘Whiplash’ and ‘Court Martial.’ He also hosted the documentary TV series, ‘Biography.’ He was honored with a star on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame.’ A few days before his 84th birthday, Graves suffered a heart attack, and breathed his last.
Childhood & Early Life
Peter Graves was born Peter Duesler Aurness, on March 18, 1926. He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His father, Rolf Aurness, was a businessman, while his mother, Ruth, was a journalist. Graves had an elder brother, James Arness, who was also an actor. When Graves decided to pursue acting professionally, he adopted the surname ‘Graves’ to honor his mother’s family. Moreover, he did not want his name to resemble his brother’s name.
Graves had a mixed ancestry (Norwegian, English, and German). As a young boy, he was interested in sports and music. Graves was an accomplished saxophonist. At the age of 16, he joined as a radio announcer, at ‘WMIN,’ Minneapolis.
In 1944, Graves graduated from the ‘Southwest High School.’ He joined the ‘US Army Air Force,’ and served during the World War II. After quitting the service, Graves enrolled at the ‘University of Minnesota,’ to study drama. This paved the way for his entry into acting.
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In 1951, Peter Graves made his film debut in ‘Rogue River.’ In the same year, he made a few minor appearances in several other films. In 1953, he performed as ‘Sgt. Frank Price’ in the American comedy-drama war movie ‘Stalag 17.’ In the same year, he performed as ‘Arnold Dix’ in the adventure movie ‘Beneath the 12-Mile Reef.’
In 1955, Graves was cast in several movies, such as ‘The Long Gray Line,’ ‘Wichita,’ ‘The Night of the Hunter,’ and ‘The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell.’ In the same year, he bagged a major role in the television series ‘Fury,’ which was telecast on the ‘NBC’ channel. In the series, he portrayed ‘Jim Newton,’ a ranch owner. The story revolved around ‘Jim’ and his adopted son. The series had a successful run for five years.
In 1959, Peter Graves appeared as ‘Christopher Cobb,’ in the British TV series ‘Whiplash.’ It was aired on the ‘ATV,’ ‘ITC Entertainment,’ and ‘Seven Network’ channels. The series was based on the life of Freeman Cobb, the founder of the Australian first stagecoach line, ‘Cobb and Co.’ It went off air in 1960.
In the 1960s, Graves was part of several movies, including ‘A Rage to Live,’ ‘Texas Across the River,’ and ‘The Ballad of Josie,’ but did not play the lead role in any one of them. During the same period, he portrayed ‘Major Frank Whittaker,’ in the crime series ‘Court Martial.’ It was aired on the ‘ITC Entertainment.’
In 1967, Graves was selected to play the lead role of ‘Jim Phelps,’ in the television series ‘Mission: Impossible.’ It was aired on the ‘CBS’ network. Graves replaced Steven Hill, who had played the lead role in the first season of the series. The series was about a group of secret agents known as the ‘Impossible Missions Force.’ ‘Phelps’ was the leader of the group. For his outstanding performance in the series, Graves was nominated for the ‘Emmy Award for the Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series.’ In 1969 and 1970, Graves was nominated for the ‘Golden Globe Award for the Best Actor in a Television Series-Drama.’ In 1971, he won the ‘Golden Globe’ for the character of ‘Jim Phelps.’
In the 1970s, Graves performed in several television movies, such as ‘Call to Danger,’ ‘The President’s Plane Is Missing,’ and ‘Scream of the Wolf.’ In 1983, he portrayed ‘Palmer Kirby,’ in the miniseries ‘The Winds of War.’ It was telecast on the ‘ABC’ network.
In 1980, Graves was cast in the American satirical movie, ‘Airplane!’ It was a parody of the movies belonging to the disaster genre. In the movie, Graves portrayed ‘Captain Clarence Oveur.’ The film was a huge success. It was voted number one in ‘The 50 Funniest Comedies Ever’ poll. In 1982, a sequel of the film titled ‘Airplane II: The Sequel’ was made, and Peter Graves played the part of ‘Capt. Clarence Oveur.’
In the 1990s, Graves acted as the host and narrator of the documentary series ‘Biography.’ It was aired on the ‘A&E’ network. Each episode of the series narrated the life of a notable person. In 1997, Graves won the ‘Primetime Emmy Award,’ for his outstanding work as the host of ‘Biography.’ In 2002, Graves made an appearance as himself, in the science fiction movie ‘Men in Black II.’
Family & Personal Life
In 1950, Peter Graves married Joan Endress. The couple had three daughters, Claudia, Amanda, and Kelly. Graves was a devout Christian. He was a member of the ‘Republican’ party.
In 2009, Peter Graves was honored with a star on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame.’ On March 14, 2010, four days before his 84th birthday, Graves passed away following a heart attack. His body was cremated.