Graves, Peter, Cpl

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Last Rank
Primary Unit
1944-1945, United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)
Service Years
1944 - 1945

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Gerald Jones (Jerry)-Deceased to remember Graves, Peter, Cpl.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Last Address
Pacific Palisades, CA

Date of Passing
Mar 14, 2010
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates

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 Unit Assignments
United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)
  1944-1945, United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1944-1945 World War II
 Colleges Attended 
University of Minnesota-Duluth
  1946-1950, University of Minnesota-Duluth
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

"On March 14, 2010, Graves collapsed in the driveway of his Pacific Palisades home after having Sunday brunch with his family to celebrate his upcoming birthday. One of his daughters found him outside unresponsive and performed emergency CPR to no avail. Initial reports indicated that Graves was in good health and may have died of an apparent heart attack." 


Other Comments:

Birth Name:  Peter Duesler Aurness

"Upon high school graduation, Peter enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, eager for adventure, excitement and overseas duties. To his disappointment, he never left the States during his two-year tour of duty."

"Military service had given him the something he hadn’t planned on, through: the G.I. Bill of Rights. He enrolled at the University of Minnesota as a drama major and won leading roles in college productions of “The Wild Duck,” “Macbeth,” “Death Takes a Holiday” and “Of Mice and Men.”

Peter Graves was a familiar face from decades of assorted TV shows, best remembered as the mysterious Jim Phelps, commander of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) on TV's Mission: Impossible.

As a boy growing up in Minnesota, he was Peter Aurness, the younger brother of James Aurness, who grew up to star in Gunsmoke. As a young actor, Graves had roles on old-time TV dramas like The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse, Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, and TV Reader's Digest. His first film was Rogue River in 1951 with Rory Calhoun. In his first starring role, 1952's Red Planet Mars, Graves played a man who thought he was receiving radio messages from Mars, but was actually establishing communication with God. Graves' most famous films include Billy Wilder's Stalag 17, Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter, and Roger Corman's It Conquered the World.

In his first TV series, The Ray Bolger Show (1953), Graves performed comedy skits and sang and danced. In the western Fury (1955-60), Graves played a widowed rancher who adopted a young orphan boy. Whiplash (1961-62) was another western, with Graves running a stagecoach company. Court Martial was a 1966 military drama.

Graves joined Mission: Impossible in 1967 for its second season, replacing the first season's lead, Steven Hill. Hill had played the team leader Mr. Briggs, while Graves played the team leader Mr. Phelps, but the change was never explained to viewers. Mission: Impossible was intelligent, well-written, suspenseful, and successful, and Graves stayed with the show until its cancellation in 1973. He later played the lascivious Captain Oveur in Airplane!. From 1987 to 2001, he was the host of A&E's Biography.

In 1988, 15 years after its cancellation, ABC executives revived Mission: Impossible when a writers' strike briefly loomed over Hollywood. The idea was to use scripts from the original series, thus obtaining new programming without violating union rules or breaking the strike. Graves returned as Mr. Phelps, surrounded by a new cast of IMF agents, and four episodes were filmed using scripts from the original series, almost verbatim. These episodes were well received, and the strike was soon settled, allowing production to continue for two seasons, with 35 episodes. 


Received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6667 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on October 30, 2009.

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