LOS ANGELES Graves died of an apparent heart attack outside his Los Angeles home, publicist Sandy Brokaw said. He would have been 84 this week.
Peter Graves,leader of a gang of special agents best known for his portrayal of Jim Phelps, who battled evil conspirators in the long-running television series “Mission: Impossible,” died Sunday.
Graves had just returned from brunch with his wife and kids and collapsed before he made it into the house, Brokaw said. One of his daughters administered CPR but was unable to revive him. Graves’ family doctor visited the house and believed he had a heart attack, Brokaw said.
Although Graves never achieved the stardom his older brother, James Arness, enjoyed as Marshal Matt Dillon on TV’s “Gunsmoke,” he had a number of memorable roles in both films and television.
Normally cast as a hero, he turned in an unforgettable performance early in his career as the treacherous Nazi spy in Billy Wilder’s 1953 prisoner-of-war drama “Stalag 17.”
He also masterfully lampooned his straight-arrow image when he portrayed bumbling airline pilot Clarence Oveur in the 1980 disaster movie spoof “Airplane!”