Peter Graves


Actor, Tv Host
Peter Graves

About

Also Known As
Peter Aurness
Birth Place
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Born
March 18, 1926

Biography

Few actors were able to convey a sense of gravitas like the tall, dignified Peter Graves. Brother of actor James Arness, Graves was readily remembered as one of the hosts on "Biography" (A&E, 1987-2006), where he solemnly intoned about the lives of public figures for over a decade. Prior to "Biography," Graves was a film and television star whose heyday came in the late-1960s with the ...

Photos & Videos

The Long Gray Line - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
The Five Man Army - Movie Poster
Beginning of the End - Lobby Cards

Family & Companions

Joan E Endress
Wife
Married on December 16, 1950.

Notes

Not to be confused with British actor Peter Graves who died in 1994 or the marketing executive of the same name.

Graves was the recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award for 1968 from the University of Minnesota

Biography

Few actors were able to convey a sense of gravitas like the tall, dignified Peter Graves. Brother of actor James Arness, Graves was readily remembered as one of the hosts on "Biography" (A&E, 1987-2006), where he solemnly intoned about the lives of public figures for over a decade. Prior to "Biography," Graves was a film and television star whose heyday came in the late-1960s with the hip Cold War spy drama, "Mission: Impossible" (CBS, 1966-1973). Before stardom, the actor struggled to make a name for himself by starring in a series of schlock horror films, some of which were lampooned on the cult series, "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (KTMA-Comedy Central-Sci Fi Channel, 1988-1999). Regardless of such inauspicious beginnings, Graves was unafraid to poke fun of his persona, which he did to hilarious effect as the captain of a doomed passenger jet in "Airplane" (1980) and "Airplane II: The Sequel" (1982). Though not known for any award-worthy performances, Graves became engrained in pop culture - both as an understated comedic actor as well as a gifted dramatic performer.

Born March 26, 1925 in Minneapolis, MN, Graves was raised by his businessman father, Rolf, and journalist mother, Ruth. As a lad, he excelled in running track and playing the clarinet while attending Southwest High School, for whom he won the state high hurdles junior year. After graduation, Graves enlisted in the U.S. Air Force for two years, then studied drama at the University of Minnesota on the G.I. Bill before heading out to Hollywood to make his mark as an actor. His early years in the movie business were studded with fairly infamous low-budget stinkers, making him a minor trash-movie icon. He appeared in the communist-baiting "Red Planet Mars" (1952), followed by "Killers from Space" (1954), directed by Billy Wilder's younger brother W. Lee, which featured googly-eyed aliens in hooded sweatshirts and oven mitts. Graves had a pivotal role in the Roger Corman quickie "It Conquered The World" (1956), featuring a bizarre zucchini-shaped monster threatening the Earth, as well as a turn in the grasshopper-turned-mutated monster flick, "The Beginning Of The End" (1957). Both films later had the dubious distinction of being featured on "Mystery Science Theater 3000." Also in 1957, Graves was also seen as a well-meaning Yankee opposite an out-of-control Timothy Carey in "Poor White Trash."

At the same time that Graves was appearing in such sci-fi hokum, he was also tackling roles with more dramatic heft, including various appearances on "Fireside Theater" (CBS, 1949-1955) and the wholesome children's series "Fury" (NBC, 1955-1960), on which he played a rancher and the adoptive father of a young boy (Bobby Diamond) who rescues and befriends a wild horse. Upping his profile, Graves made notable appearances throughout the 1950s, playing the German mole Price in "Stalag 17" (1953) and Capt. Elliot in Otto Preminger's somewhat heavy-handed courtroom drama, "The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell" (1955). One of his most interesting roles, though, was playing the flawed, weak-willed father Ben Harper in Charles Laughton's "Night of the Hunter" (1955). The film was a huge flop upon its release, resulting in Laughton never being allowed to direct another one. But its formal, lyrical tone and fable-like storytelling have made it a must-see in film studies ever since. In the film, Graves' character Harper was hauled off by the sheriff early in the movie, ruining his kids' innocence and leaving them $10,000 and a terrible secret to keep. Though his screen time was brief, Graves was searing and intense as the doomed Harper.

Graves started the 1960s with a performances as Christopher Cobb in the Australian television series, "Whiplash" (ATV, 1960-61). This Aussie take on the Western depicted Cobb using a bullwhip rather than a pistol and taking on all comers in his efforts to establish the first stagecoach line in the country. But it was "Mission: Impossible" that gave Graves his breakthrough role. Wildly popular, "M:I" became ensconced in the pop-culture fabric of the decade, from Lalo Schifrin's theme music to the phrase "Your mission, should you choose to accept it " to the tape recorder whose reels would go up in a puff of smoke "in five seconds." In the Cold War-era spy series, Graves played Jim Phelps, the cool-headed leader of the Impossible Mission Force, which pulled together various specialists to carry out top secret missions for the U.S. government. Creator Bruce Geller made it a point to keep the show's characters rather shallow and mysterious, in keeping with the spy-who-came-in-from-the-cold culture of the time. Graves' performance brought him a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in 1971. The show proved memorable enough to warrant a revival series (ABC, 1988-1990), with only Graves returning from the original cast, and four feature films. Fans of the original show criticized the movie franchise for its reliance on Tom Cruise's star power, and rampant explosions and gunplay. Notably, none of the show's original cast members have shown up in cameos in the feature films, though Graves was reportedly asked to play Phelps, which he turned down because the first feature depicted him as a villain.

In 1980, Graves was approached with what he regarded as "the worst piece of junk he had ever seen" - which turned out to be the script for "Airplane." He changed his mind, however, after a meeting with the movie's creators, Jerry and David Zucker, and came onboard as Capt. Oveur, the stolid airline pilot who has to ride herd on all sorts of airborne emergencies in the ridiculous spoof of 1970s disaster movies. The movie's mile-a-minute gags, puns and double entendres proved to be a huge hit, enough to warrant the equally funny "Airplane II: The Sequel." It also showed that the normally stony Graves had some comedic chops and was far from being too proud to poke fun at himself. Meanwhile, aside from a role in the spoof "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" (1998), Graves began to keep away from features. In 1989, Graves began his long stint as host of "Biography," a documentary television series that featured long, in-depth looks at celebrities, politicians and other iconic figures. In Graves' 12 years as host, he delved into numerous lives, including Ronald Reagan, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Groucho Marx, Madonna, Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop, Mel "The Velvet Fog" Torme, Mia Farrow and Tom Hanks, to name a few.

As the new millennium came into being, the aging Graves began to slow down his career, putting in occasional television appearances while holding down his "Biography" gig. He did become a regular on the feel-good family drama, "7th Heaven" (CBS, 1997-2007), playing John "The Colonel" Camden, the Marine father of the Reverend Eric Camden (Stephen Collins), whose brood of seven deals with a moral or controversial issue each week. After appearing in the uneven "Men In Black II" (2002), playing the host of a "Biography"-style expose' program, Graves returned to the small screen for guest shots on "House" (Fox, 2004-), "Cold Case" (CBS, 2003- ) and "American Dad" (Fox, 2004- ). Meanwhile, Graves left "Biography" in 2001, and five years later, the show was effectively canceled by A&E, although it lived on exclusively on The Biography Channel with new hosts and voiceover talent.

Though largely retired in his later years, Graves did turn up in a spoof of his "Airplane" role in a web-only video promotion for AirTran Airways' in-flight Internet service. He also served as the spokesperson for mortgage lender, American Advisors Group, in the summer of 2009, after which he earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame later that October. But 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. He was 83.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Don't Ask Don't Tell (2002)
Men in Black II (2002)
Himself
These Old Broads (2001)
Bill
House on Haunted Hill (1999)
Self
House on Haunted Hill (1999)
Himself
Jack Lemmon: America's Everyman (1996)
Host ("Biography")
Fred Macmurray: The Guy Next Door (1996)
Host ("Biography")
Burt Lancaster: Daring To Reach (1996)
Roger Moore: A Matter of Class (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Charlton Heston: For All Seasons (1995)
Addams Family Values (1993)
The Rise & Fall of the Soviet Union (1992)
Narration
The Woman He Loved (1988)
Lord Reith
I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
Number One With a Bullet (1987)
The Love Boat: Who Killed Maxwell Thorn? (1987)
Mysterious Man
If It's Tuesday, It Still Must Be Belgium (1987)
Mr Wainwright
Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)
Savannah Smiles (1982)
The Guns and the Fury (1981)
Mark Janzer
Memory Of Eva Ryker (1980)
Mike Rogers
Airplane! (1980)
Survival Run (1980)
Death Car on the Freeway (1979)
The Clonus Horror (1979)
Jeff Knight
Spree (1978)
SST -- Death Flight (1977)
The Mysterious Monsters (1976)
The Slipper and the Rose (1976)
General
Sidecar Racers (1975)
Carson
Dead Man on the Run (1975)
Jim Gideon
Paul et Michelle (1974)
Scream of the Wolf (1974)
John Wetherby
The Underground Man (1974)
Lew Archer
Where Have All the People Gone? (1974)
The President's Plane Is Missing (1973)
Call to Danger (1973)
Doug Warfield
The Five Man Army (1970)
The Dutchman
The Magic Christian (1970)
Interested Lord at ship's bar
The Adventurers (1970)
Trustee banker
The Ballad of Josie (1968)
Jason Meredith
Sergeant Ryker (1968)
Major Whitaker
I'll Never Forget What's 'Is Name (1968)
Bankman
Valley of Mystery (1967)
Ben Barstow
How I Won the War (1967)
Staff officer
The Jokers (1967)
Mr. Tremayne
Texas Across the River (1966)
Captain Stimpson
The Wrong Box (1966)
Military officer
A Rage To Live (1965)
Jack Hollister
A Stranger in My Arms (1959)
Donald Beasley
Wolf Larsen (1958)
James Van Weyden
Bayou (1957)
Martin Davis
Death in Small Doses (1957)
Tom Kayler
Beginning of the End (1957)
Dr. Editor Wainwright
It Conquered the World (1956)
Dr. Paul Nelson
Hold Back the Night (1956)
[Lt. Lee] Couzens
Canyon River (1956)
Bob Andrews
Let's Make Up (1956)
Albert Gutman/Prince Albert
Fort Yuma (1955)
Lt. Ben Keegan
Black Tuesday (1955)
Peter Manning
The Long Gray Line (1955)
Corp. Rudolph "Rudy" Heinz
The Naked Street (1955)
Joe McFarland
Robbers' Roost (1955)
Heesman
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Ben Harper
Wichita (1955)
Morgan [Earp]
The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955)
Capt. Elliott
The Yellow Tomahawk (1954)
[Walt] Sawyer
War Paint (1954)
Trooper Tolson
Killers from Space (1954)
[Dr.] Doug [P.] Martin
The Raid (1954)
Capt. Frank Dwyer
Stalag 17 (1953)
Sgt. Price
East of Sumatra (1953)
Cowboy
Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953)
Arnold Dix
Red Planet Mars (1952)
Chris Cronyn
The Congregation (1952)
Four Against Fate (1952)
Gerald Berkeley
Encore (1952)
Philip Cronshaw
Up Front (1951)
M.P.
Fort Defiance (1951)
Ned [Tallon]
Rogue River (1950)
Pete Dandrige
Give Us the Moon (1944)
Peter
Bees In Paradise (1943)
The Remarkable Mr. Kipps (1941)
Sidney Revel

Special Thanks (Feature Film)

Loch Ness (1997)
Special Thanks
Kazaam (1996)
Special Thanks To
Barb Wire (1996)
Special Thanks To
Fargo (1996)
Special Thanks To
Moonlight and Valentino (1995)
Special Thanks To
French Kiss (1995)
Special Thanks
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Special Thanks To

Cast (Special)

Biography: 15 Years and Counting (2002)
Interviewee
Janet Gaynor: A Star Was Born (2001)
Narrator
Mitzi Gaynor: Hollywood's Cockeyed Optimist (2001)
Narrator
Lee Marvin: Hollywood's Straight Shooter (2001)
Narrator
Jean Simmons: Picture Perfect (2001)
Benny Hill: Laughter and Controversy (2001)
Narration
Jennifer Jones: Portrait of a Lady (2001)
Narration
Don Knotts: Nervous Laughter (2000)
Narrator
The Great American History Quiz: Pursuit of Happiness (2000)
Richard Widmark: Strength of Characters (2000)
Narrator
Yvonne DeCarlo: Gilded Lily (2000)
Narrator
John Forsythe: Gentleman John (2000)
Narrator
Deborah Kerr: Getting to Know Her (2000)
Narrator
Ernest Borgnine: Hollywood's Uncommon Character (2000)
Narrator
James Garner: A Maverick Spirit (2000)
Narrator
Cesar Romero: In a Class By Himself (2000)
Narrator
Frances Farmer: Paradise Lost (2000)
Narrator
Meredith Baxter: Perfection & Reality (2000)
Narrator
The Great American History Quiz (1999)
Ray Walston: No Antennae, Please (1999)
Narrator
Mary Tyler Moore: All American Girl (1999)
Dorothy Dandridge: Little Girl Lost (1999)
Narrator
Don Ameche: Hollywood's Class Act (1999)
Narrator
Ethel Merman: There's No Business Like Show Business (1999)
Narrator
Martha Raye: In Love and War (1999)
Narrator
Maria Callas (1999)
Narrator
Linda Darnell: Hollywood's Fallen Angel (1999)
Narrator
Barbara Eden: Out of the Bottle (1999)
Narrator
Ron Howard: Hollywood's Favorite Son (1999)
Narrator
Elizabeth Montgomery: A Touch of Magic (1999)
Narrator
The Nicholas Brothers: Flying High (1999)
Narrator
Tim Conway: Just Clowning Around (1999)
Narrator
Rock Hudson: Acting the Part (1999)
Narration
Joan Crawford (1999)
Narration
Lesley Ann Warren: A Cinderella Story (1999)
Narrator
Gene Tierney: A Shattered Portrait (1999)
Narrator
Robert Wagner: Hollywood's Prince Charming (1999)
Narrator
John Ford: An American Icon (1999)
Narrator
William Holden: An Untamed Spirit (1999)
Narrator
Hayley Mills (1999)
Narrator
Raquel Welch (1999)
Narrator
Cary Grant (1998)
Narrator
Harrison Ford: The Reluctant Hero (1998)
Narrator
Charlie Chaplin: A Tramp's Life (1998)
Narrator
Montgomery Clift: The Hidden Star (1998)
Narrator
Denzel Washington (1998)
Narrator
Diana: The True Story (1998)
Narrator
Ida Lupino: Through the Lens (1998)
Narrator
Doris Day: It's Magic (1998)
Narrator
Steve Rubell: Lord of the Disco (1998)
Anthony Quinn (1998)
Narrator
Susan Hayward: The Brooklyn Bombshell (1998)
Narrator
Myrna Loy: A Class By Herself (1998)
Narrator
Dinah Shore (1998)
Narrator
Angela Lansbury: A Balancing Act (1998)
Narrator
Ann-Margret: Sugar and Spice (1998)
Narrator
Roddy McDowall: Hollywood's Best Friend (1998)
Narrator
Geraldo Rivera (1998)
Narration
The Von Trapp Family: Harmony and Discord (1998)
Narrator
Ozzie & Harriet: The Adventures of America's Favorite Family (1998)
Narrator
Ernie Kovacs: Please Stand By (1998)
Narration
Jonathan Winters: Without a Net (1998)
Narration
William Shatner (1998)
Narration
Gary Cooper: The Face of a Hero (1998)
Narration
George C. Scott (1998)
Narrator
Ernie Kovacs: Please Stand By (1998)
Host ("Biography")
John Wayne: The Unquiet American (1998)
Narrator
Greta Garbo: The Mysterious Lady (1998)
Narrator
Steven Spielberg: An Empire of Dreams (1998)
Narrator
Gene Hackman: Portrait of an Artist (1998)
Narrator
Audrey Hepburn: The Fairest Lady (1997)
Host ("Biography")
Alan Alda: More Than Mr. Nice Guy (1997)
Narrator
1997 Cable Ace Awards (1997)
Presenter
Sidney Poitier: The Defiant One (1997)
Wayne Newton: The King of Las Vegas (1997)
Sonja Henie: Fire on Ice (1997)
Host ("Biography")
Gloria Swanson: The Greatest Star (1997)
Host ("Biography")
Barbara Stanwyck: Straight Down the Line (1997)
Narration
Joan Collins: A Personal Dynasty (1997)
Narrator
Andy Griffith: Hollywood's Homespun Hero (1997)
Narrator
Joseph Kennedy, Sr: Father of an American Dynasty (1997)
Barbara Stanwyck: Straight Down the Line (1997)
Host ("Biography")
Sylvester Stallone (1997)
Narration
The Gambinos: First Family of Crime (1997)
Host ("Biography")
Oscar Levant: Brillant Shadow (1997)
Tanya Tucker: Country Rebel (1997)
Bruce Lee: The Immortal Dragon (1997)
Phil Silvers: Top Banana (1997)
Mia Farrow: A Life of Drama (1997)
Host ("Biography")
Judy Garland: Beyond the Rainbow (1997)
Narrator
Kirk Douglas (1997)
Tom Hanks: Hollywood's Golden Boy (1997)
Sophia Loren: Actress Italian Style (1997)
Narrator
Peter Graves: Mission Accomplished (1997)
Interviewee
Sonja Henie: Fire on Ice (1997)
Narration
Vincent Price: The Versatile Villain (1997)
Jane Russell (1997)
Henry Fonda: Hollywood's Quiet Hero (1997)
Roseanne: Tabloids, Trash & Truth (1996)
Narration
Kathie Lee Gifford: Having It All (1996)
Jean Harlow: Platinum Bombshell (1996)
JFK: A Personal Story (1996)
Marlon Brando: Breaking All the Rules (1996)
Host ("Biography")
Jack Benny: Now Cut That Out! (1996)
Host ("Biography")
Zorro: Mark of the Z (1996)
Host ("Biography")
Tarzan: The Legacy of Edgar Rice Burroughs (1996)
Host ("Biography")
Alice Faye: The Star Next Door (1996)
Narrator
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Flex Appeal (1996)
Danny Thomas: Make Room For Danny (1996)
Edward VIII: Traitor King (1996)
Host ("Biography")
Edward G. Robinson: Little Big Man (1996)
Narration
Jackie Chan (1996)
Host ("Biography")
Michael Douglas (1996)
Host ("Biography")
Tim Allen: Prince of Tools (1996)
Narration
Michael Douglas (1996)
Narration
Peter Lorre: The Master of Menace (1996)
Marilyn Monroe: The Mortal Goddess (1996)
Howard Stern: Radio Rebel (1996)
James Brown: The Godfather of Soul (1996)
Host ("Biography")
Jack Benny: Now Cut That Out! (1996)
Narration
Tyrone Power: The Last Idol (1996)
Hugh Hefner: American Playboy (1996)
Arthur Godfrey: Broadcasting's Forgotten Giant (1996)
Roseanne: Tabloids, Trash & Truth (1996)
Host ("Biography")
Tim Allen: Prince of Tools (1996)
Host ("Biography")
Henry VIII (1996)
Host ("Biography")
Richard Pryor: Comic on the Edge (1996)
Carmen Miranda: The South American Way (1996)
Narrator
Carol Burnett: Just to Have a Laugh (1996)
Edward G. Robinson: Little Big Man (1996)
Host ("Biography")
Shirley Temple: The Biggest Little Star (1996)
Jerry Lewis: The Last American Clown (1996)
Audie Murphy: Great American Hero (1996)
Jamie Lee Curtis (1996)
Jim Carrey: The Joker's Wild (1996)
Richard M. Nixon (1996)
Host ("Biography")
FDR: Years of Crisis (1995)
Host ("Biography")
James Earl Jones (1995)
John Candy: A Tribute (1995)
Susan B. Anthony: Rebel For the Cause (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Sammy Davis, Jr.: Mr. Entertaiment (1995)
Louis Armstrong: Laughin' Louis (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Mel Torme (1995)
Tokyo Rose: Victim of Propaganda (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Edgar Bergen: His Many Voices (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Benedict Arnold: Triumph and Treason (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Loretta Lynn (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Ted Bundy: The Mind of a Killer (1995)
Host ("Biography")
General Douglas MacArthur: Return of a Legend (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Stan Lee: The ComiX-MAN! (1995)
Coco Chanel: A Private Life (1995)
Host ("Biography")
The James Gang: Outlaw Brothers (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Bela Lugosi: Hollywood's Dark Prince (1995)
Host ("Biography")
George III: Mad or Maligned? (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Daniel Boone (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Carl Reiner: Still Laughing (1995)
Lewis & Clark (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Jack the Ripper: Phantom of Death (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Leif Ericson: Voyages of a Viking (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Charles Manson: Journey into Evil (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1995)
Mickey Rooney: Hollywood's Little Giant (1995)
Genghis Khan: Terror and Conquest (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Charles Schulz: A Charlie Brown Life (1995)
Robin Hood: Outlaw of the Forest (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Roy Rogers: American Legend (1995)
James Bond: The Secret Life of 007 (1995)
Buster Keaton: Genius in Slapshoes (1995)
John Dillinger (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Paul Newman: Hollywood's Charming Rebel (1995)
Ike & Monty: Generals at War (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Betty Grable: Behind the Pin-Up (1995)
Narrator
The History of Hamlet (1995)
Lizzie Borden: A Woman Accused (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Sitting Bull: Chief of the Lakota Nation (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Larry King (1995)
Host ("Biography")
The Gettys: A Tragedy of Riches (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Ponce DeLeon: The First Conquistidor (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Albert Schweitzer: Darkness and Light (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Peter Sellers (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Thomas Jefferson: Philosopher of Freedom (1995)
Host ("Biography")
Joan of Arc: The Making of a Saint (1994)
Host ("Biography")
The Mysterious Edgar Allan Poe (1994)
Host ("Biography")
Diana: On Her Own (1994)
Host ("Biography")
Frankenstein: The True Story (1994)
Narration
Willie Nelson: My Life (1994)
Host ("Biography")
Benjamin Franklin: Citizen of the World (1994)
Host ("Biography")
Jayne Mansfield: Love and Kisses (1994)
Humphrey Bogart: Behind the Legend (1994)
Bette Davis: If Looks Could Kill (1994)
The Golden Globe's 50th Anniversary Celebration (1994)
FDR: The War Years (1994)
Host ("Biography")
Frankenstein: The True Story (1994)
Host ("Biography")
The Unexplained: Witches, Werewolves & Vampires ... Are They Real? (1994)
Host
Sherlock Holmes: The Eligible Bachelor (1994)
George Tidy
Donald Trump: Deal Maker (1994)
Host ("Biography")
The Babe (1994)
Host ("Biography")
Milton Berle: Mr. Television (1994)
Host ("Biography")
Bruce Lee (1994)
Host ("Biography")
Hillary Clinton (1994)
Host ("Biography")
Lawrence of Arabia (1994)
Host ("Biography")
The Rockefellers (1994)
Host ("Biography")
Sid Caesar: Television's Comedy Genius (1994)
Host ("Biography")
Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop (1994)
Host ("Biography")
Donald Sutherland: Give Me Your Answer True (1994)
Host ("Biography")
Gene Roddenberry: Star Trek and Beyond (1994)
Host ("Biography")
Lucy & Desi: TV's First Couple (1994)
Van Cliburn (1994)
Host ("Biography")
John Gotti (1993)
Host ("Biography")
Great Commanders: Julius Caesar (1993)
Host ("Biography")
Bing Crosby: America's Crooner (1993)
Alexander the Great (1993)
Host ("Biography")
Elvis Presley (1993)
Host ("Biography")
Great Commanders: Napoleon (1993)
Host ("Biography")
Groucho Marx (1993)
Gene Autry: The Singing Cowboy (1993)
Vincent Price (1993)
Host ("Biography")
Elizabeth Taylor (1993)
Bob Hope: Thanks For the Memories (1993)
Host ("Biography")
Northern Lights (1993)
Narration
Prince Andrew (1993)
Host ("Biography")
Great Commanders: Ulysses S. Grant (1993)
Host ("Biography")
Jimmy Stewart: Hometown Hero (1993)
General William Westmoreland (1993)
Host ("Biography")
Prince Andrew (1993)
Narration
Madonna (1993)
Onassis (1992)
Host ("Biography")
James Cagney: City Boy, Country Gentleman (1992)
Host ("Biography")
Shirley Temple Black (1992)
Host ("Biography")
Al Capone and Eliot Ness (1992)
Narrator
Brigitte Bardot (1992)
Howard Hughes (1992)
Host ("Biography")
Franco: Behind the Myth (1992)
Host ("Biography")
Shirley Temple Black (1992)
Narration
J. Edgar Hoover (1992)
Host ("Biography")
George Bush: His World War II Years (1992)
Host ("Biography")
Howard Hughes (1992)
Narration
Churchill (1992)
Narrator
Muhammad Ali (1991)
Narrator
Ronald Reagan (1991)
Narration
Schwarzkopf (1991)
Host ("Biography")
Ronald Reagan (1991)
Host ("Biography")
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1991)
Host ("Biography")
Prince Charles: A King in Waiting (1991)
Host ("Biography")
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1991)
Narration
Men in Space: From Goddard to Armstrong (1991)
Host ("Biography")
Joe DiMaggio: The Way It Was (1991)
Host ("Biography")
Men in Space: From Goddard to Armstrong (1991)
Narration
Jackie Robinson (1991)
Narration
Jackie Robinson (1991)
Host ("Biography")
Fergie: The Duchess of York (1990)
Host ("Biography")
Estee Lauder (1989)
Host ("Biography")
Elizabeth Arden (1989)
Host ("Biography")
Helena Rubinstein (1989)
Host ("Biography")
You Are the Jury (1987)
Narrator
The 1987 Miss Universe Pageant (1987)
The 37th Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards (1985)
Performer
An All-Star Party for "Dutch" Reagan (1985)
The Best of Friends (1981)
Steve Martin: Comedy Is Not Pretty (1980)
Dean's Place (1975)
Dinah in Search of the Ideal Man (1973)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

War and Remembrance (1988)
The Winds of War (1983)
The Rebels (1979)

Life Events

1950

Film acting debut, "Rogue River"

1952

First starring role in a film, "Red Planet Mars"

1953

Had a memorable supporting role as a German spy in Billy Wilder's "Stalag 17"

1955

Debut as a TV series regular, played the rancher and adoptive single father in NBC's Western series, "Fury" (retitled Brave Stallion in syndication runs)

1955

Played a father on the run from the law in Charles Laughton's "The Night of the Hunter"

1960

Starred in the syndicated Australia adventure series, "Whiplash," as a pioneering stage coach company owner

1963

Co-starred as Maj. Frank Whittaker in "Court-Martial," the pilot for a military legal series (aired as two episodes of NBC's "Kraft Suspense Theater")

1965

Reprised role as Maj. Frank Whittaker in "Court-Martial," a mid-season replacement series on ABC

1967

Joined the cast of the popular espionage series "Mission: Impossible" (CBS) during its second season as special agent Jim Phelps; earned Golden Globe (1969, 1970) and Emmy (1969) nominations for Best Actor

1968

Starred as Jim Kingsley in "Call to Danger," the initially unaired pilot for "Mission: Impossible," which aired as part of the summer replacement series "Premiere"

1969

Reprised the role of Jim Phelps in the feature "Mission: Impossible vs. the Mob"

1973

Hosted and narrated "Strange Places," a syndicated documentary series

1973

Starred as Douglas Warfield, an undercover federal agent, in the CBS TV-movie pilot, "Call to Danger"

1974

Miscast as private eye Lew Archer in the pilot, "The Underground Man" (Brian Keith as cast in the subsequent series)

1975

Starred in the ABC TV-movie, "Dead Man on the Run," as a special government agent

1979

Appeared as Major Noah Cooper, commander of the Fighting 69th squadron, in the NBC TV series "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century"

1980

Starred as Captain Oveur in the hit feature comedy, "Airplane!"

1982

Reprised the role of Captain Oveur for "Airplane II: The Sequel"

1983

Appeared as Palmer Kirby in the ABC blockbuster miniseries, "The Winds of War"

1988

Reprised the role of Palmer Kirby for the ABC sequel miniseries, "War and Remembrance"

1988

Reprised the role of Jim Phelps for the ABC revival of "Mission: Impossible"

1989

Hosted the revival of "Biography," a documentary profile series on A&E

1992

Narrated the documentary feature, "The Rise & Fall of the Soviet Union"

1994

Provided the voices of General Sherman and General McClellan for "Smithsonian's Great Battles of the Civil War," a miniseries on The Learning Channel

1994

Hosted the NBC documentary special, "The Unexplained: Witches, Werewolves & Vampires... Are They Real?"

1997

Had a recurring role as Colonel John Camden on the WB series, "7th Heaven"

2002

Parodied his Biography work in the film "Men in Black II," hosting an exposé television show

2009

Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Photo Collections

The Long Gray Line - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
The Long Gray Line - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
The Five Man Army - Movie Poster
The Five Man Army - Movie Poster
Beginning of the End - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Bert I Gordon's Beginning of the End (1957), starring Peter Graves. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Stalag 17 (1953) - There Should Be A Ham Hock Sefton (Academy Award-winner William Holden), beaten up by fellow POW’s who think he’s the informer, tries to bribe guard Schultz (Sig Rumann), before the others get back to the barracks, Hoffy (Richard Erdman) making an offer before “The Geneva Man” (Erwin Kalser) appears, in Billy Wilder’s Stalag 17, 1953.
Stalag 17 (1953) - When I See Those War Pictures Cookie (Gil Stratton Jr.) narrates for writer/director Billy Wilder, leading man William Holden not involved, as Hoffy, Duke and Price (Richard Erdman, Neville Brand, Peter Graves) brief Manfredi and Johnson (Michael Moore, Peter Baldwin) for their escape, opening Stalag 17, 1953.
Stalag 17 (1953) - Illegitimate Son Of Hitler After a failed escape, German guard Schultz (Sig Ruman) joshes with Shapiro and "Animal" (Harvey Lembeck, Neville Brand), gets challenged by Duke (Neville Brand), and teased by suspected informer Sefton (William Holden), then writer/director Billy Wilder twists the plot, in Stalag 17, 1953.
Stalag 17 (1953) - Trading With The Enemy P.O.W. Sefton (William Holden) who won money betting against two guys killed trying to escape, enjoys a bartered egg and gets hassled by Shapiro, "Aninal," Duke, Hoffy and Price (Harvey Lembeck, Robert Strauss, Neville Brand, Richard Erdman, Peter Graves), in Billy Wilder's Stalag 17, 1953.
Fort Defiance (1951) - I Can't Change Your Mind Ben (Ben Johnson), civil war veteran on a compromised mission of vengeance, reading a letter when his new blind rancher pal Ned (Peter Graves) arrives to deal with angered Indian Brave Bear (Iron Eyes Cody), in Fort Defiance, 1951.
Fort Defiance (1951) - No Sight At All Opening scene, no actor ever having sat a horse better, Ben Johnson (as "Ben!") rides up and meets sightless rancher Ned (Peter Graves), in Fort Defiance, 1951, camera by Stanley Cortez.
Airplane! (1980) - Picked The Wrong Week... Too many gags running at once, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty in the cockpit, Robert Stack battling airport solicitors, Lloyd Bridges in the control room in Airplane!, 1980.
Airplane! (1980) - Ever Been In A Cockpit? Pilot Peter Graves is happier than co-pilot Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (as "Roger Murdoch") to see young Johnny (Stepher Stucker) in the cockpit, in the hit satire Airplane!, 1980.

Trailer

Family

Rolf C Aurness
Father
Ruth E Aurness
Mother
James Arness
Brother
Actor. Older; best known as the star of the long-running TV Western "Gunsmoke" (CBS, 1955-75).
Kelly Jean Graves
Daughter
Claudia King Graves
Daughter
Amanda Lee Graves
Daughter

Companions

Joan E Endress
Wife
Married on December 16, 1950.

Bibliography

Notes

Not to be confused with British actor Peter Graves who died in 1994 or the marketing executive of the same name.

Graves was the recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award for 1968 from the University of Minnesota

Graves was nominated for an Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama for the 1968/69 season of "Mission: Impossible".