Born Peter Aurness in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on March 18, 1926, handsome actor Peter Graves enjoyed a career that spanned six decades. Graves got his start in radio as a teenager. Following a stint in the armed services, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota in 1946 as a drama major and later headed for California. A year after marrying his wife Joan, Graves snagged a starring role in his first film, the independently produced Rogue River (1951; with Rory Calhoun). His next film, for the same production company, was the western Fort Defiance (1951; with Dane Clark, Ben Johnson, and Tracey Roberts). In 1952, he starred in his first science fiction vehicle, Red Planet Mars (with Andrea King), setting the stage for Graves' string of science fiction films in the 1950s which includes Killers from Space (1954; with Barbara Bestar), It Conquered the World (1956; with Beverly Garland and Lee Van Cleef), and Beginning of the End (1957; with Peggie Castle and Morris Ankrum). In addition, Graves appeared in a number of westerns, such as Robbers' Roost (1955; with George Montgomery and Bruce Bennett) and Fort Yuma (1955; with John Hudson), along with a number of dramas and war pictures.

the films of peter graves

Red Planet Mars (1952)

Walter Sande, Peter Graves, and Andrea King

Graves attempts to contact beings on Mars with the help of Walter Sande and Andrea King in the United Artists science fiction release Red Planet Mars

Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953)

Robert Wagner, Terry Moore, and Peter Graves

With Robert Wagner and Terry Moore in the 20th Century-Fox underwater adventure Beneath the 12-Mile Reef

Killers from Space (1954)

Peter GravesPeter GravesPeter Graves and Barbara BestarPeter Graves

From the fun science fiction effort Killers from Space, released by RKO. LEFT: Graves as scientist Doug Martin. CENTER A: Following a plane crash, Peter Graves is captured by aliens who plan to take over Earth. CENTER B: With Barbara Bestar as his wife. RIGHT: Graves attempts to foil the bug-eyed aliens' plan to take over the world

Fort Yuma (1955)

Peter Graves and John HudsonJoan Vohs, Addison Richards, John Hudson, and Peter Graves

From the United Artists western Fort Yuma. LEFT: Graves and John Hudson tend to a dead body. RIGHT: With Joan Vohs, Addison Richards, and John Hudson

Death in Small Doses (1957)

Merry Anders and Peter GravesPeter Graves and Mala Powers

From the Allied Artists release Death in Small Doses. LEFT: Government agent Peter Graves shakes down Merry Anders. RIGHT: With Mala Powers

Beginning of the End (1957)

Peggie Castle and Peter GravesPeter Graves

From Republic's science fiction flick Beginning of the End, which once aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000. LEFT: With love interest Peggie Castle. RIGHT: Graves attempts to save the world from giant grasshoppers

Wolf Larsen (1958)

Peter Graves

Graves as crewman Van Weyden in the Allied Artists sea adventure Wolf Larsen

A Rage to Live (1965)

Bethel Leslie and Peter Graves

From the potboiler A Rage to Live, released by United Artists. Bethel Leslie throws a drink in husband Peter Graves' face upon discovering his dalliance with nymphomaniac Suzanne Pleshette

Sergeant Ryker (1965)

Bradford Dillman and Peter Graves

With Bradford Dillman in the Universal drama Sergeant Ryker. This film is actually comprised of two 1963 episodes of Kraft Suspense Theatre titled The Case Against Paul Ryker

Mission: Impossible (1966-1973 CBS TV Series)

Peter Lupus, Barbara Bain, Martin Landau, Greg Morris, and Peter Graves

Cast photo from the CBS TV series Mission: Impossible featuring Peter Lupus, Barbara Bain, Martin Landau, Greg Morris, and Peter Graves

The Ballad of Josie (1967)

Doris Day, Peter Graves, and George KennedyDoris Day, George Kennedy, and Peter Graves

From the comedy/western The Ballad of Josie, released by Universal. LEFT: Doris Day, as the title character, watches as Peter Graves and George Kennedy get ready to mix it up. RIGHT: Again with Day and Kennedy

Mission Impossible Versus the Mob (1968)

Peter Lupus and Peter GravesPeter Graves

LEFT: Lobby card from the theatrical release Mission Impossible Versus the Mob with Peter Lupus. RIGHT: Promotional shot from the film

The Five Man Army (1969)

Peter GravesPeter GravesPeter Graves

From the spaghetti western The Five Man Army. LEFT: Graves as the Dutchman. CENTER and RIGHT: Promotional shots from the film, released in the U.S. by MGM

Scream of the Wolf (1974)

Peter GravesPhilip Carey and Peter Graves

LEFT: Promotional photo from the made-for-TV horror flick Scream of the Wolf, originally aired by ABC. RIGHT: With costar Philip Carey

Airplane! (1980)

Julie Hagerty, Lorna Patterson, Leslie Nielsen, and Peter Graves

From the hilarious Aiplane!, released by Paramount. Graves does a comedic turn as Captain Clarence Oveur. Also pictured are Julie Hagerty, Lorna Patterson, and Leslie Nielsen

Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)

Julie Hagerty, Kent McCord, James A. Watson Jr., and Peter Graves

From Airplane II, released by Paramount. Pictured along with Graves are Julie Hagerty, Kent McCord, and James A. Watson Jr.

later years

Today, Peter Graves is probably best known for his 1966-1973 series Mission: Impossible, in which he appeared from 1967 through the end of the series. But cult audiences have given new life to Graves' science fiction and horror flicks, including his 1970s films Scream of the Wolf (1974; with Clint Walker and Philip Carey) and Parts: The Clonus Horror (1979; with Dick Sargent and Keenan Wynn). Although never lacking work, Graves reinvigorated his career with his hilarious role as Captain Clarence Oveur in Airplane! (1980; with Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty). In 1987, he began hosting A & E Network's successful Biography series, which he stayed with through the 1994 season. He continued working in films and on such TV shows as 7th Heaven until his sudden death on March 14, 2010, at the age of 83. He was survived by his wife, three daughters, a number of grandchildren, and his brother, western legend and Gunsmoke star James Arness.

peter graves dvds available from


With You In Spirit (2003)
These Old Broads (2001) with Shirley MacLaine, Joan Collins, Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor, Gene Barry, and Pat Harrington Jr.
Addams Family Values (1993) with Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Joan Cusack, Christina Ricci, and Carol Kane
If It's Tuesday, It Still Must Be Belgium (1987) with Claude Akins, Courteney Cox, Faith Ford, and Stephen Furst
Number One with a Bullet (1987) with Robert Carradine, Billy Dee Williams, Valerie Bertinelli, and Doris Roberts
Aces Go Places III: Our Man From Bond Street (1984) with Richard Kiel and Harold Sakata
Tennis Court (1984)
Airplane II: The Sequel (1982) with Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Lloyd Bridges, Chad Everett, Chuck Connors, William Shatner, Raymond Burr, John Vernon, Stephen Stucker, and Kent McCord
Savannah Smiles (1982) with Chris Robinson, Michael Parks, Pat Morita, and Carol Wayne
Best of Friends (1981) with Alex Cord and Carol Lynley
Missile X: The Neutron Bomb Incident (1981) with Curd Jurgens, Michael Dante, and John Carradine
Three Hundred Miles for Stephanie (1981) with Tony Orlando, Edward James Olmos, and Gregory Sierra
The Guns and the Fury (1981) with Cameron Mitchell, Michael Ansara, and Albert Salmi
Airplane! (1980) with Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Lloyd Bridges, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, and Stephen Stucker
The Memory of Eva Ryker (1980) with Jean-Pierre Aumont, Ralph Bellamy, Bradford Dillman, Morgan Fairchild, Mel Ferrer, Robert Foxworth, Roddy McDowall, and Natalie Wood
Survival Run (1980) with Ray Milland and Vincent Van Patten
Steve Martin: Comedy Is Not Pretty (1980) with Steve Martin, Marty Allen, Richard Deacon, Werner Klemperer, Meredith MacRae, Louis Nye, and Carl Reiner
The Rebels (1979) with Andrew Stevens, Don Johnson, Doug McClure, Jim Backus, Richard Basehart, Joan Blondell, Tom Bosley, Macdonald Carey, Rory Calhoun, Kim Cattrall, and Anne Francis
Death Car on the Freeway (1979) with Shelley Hack, George Hamilton, Frank Gorshin, Harriet Nelson, Barbara Rush, Dinah Shore, and Abe Vigoda
Parts: The Clonus Horror (1979) with Tim Donnelly, Dick Sargent, Keenan Wynn, and Lurene Tuttle; once aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000
The Gift of the Magi (1978) with Jim Backus, Debby Boone, and Jo Anne Worley
High Seas Hijack (1978) with Gigi Perreau
SST: Death Flight (1977) with Bert Convy, Lorne Greene, Season Hubley, Tina Louise, George Maharis, Burgess Meredith, Doug McClure, Martin Milner, Robert Reed, and Susan Strasberg; once aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000
Sidecar Racers (1975) with Ben Murphy
Dead Man on the Run (1975) with Pernell Roberts, Diana Douglas, and Joe E. Tata
Where Have All the People Gone? (1974) with Verna Bloom and Kathleen Quinlan
The Underground Man (1974) with Celeste Holm, Sharon Farrell, Jim Hutton, Kay Lenz, Vera Miles, Jo Ann Pflug, Jack Klugman, and Bill McKinney
Scream of the Wolf (1974) with Clint Walker, Jo Ann Pflug, Philip Carey, and Don Megowan
The President's Plane Is Missing (1973) with Buddy Ebsen, Raymond Massey, Mercedes McCambridge, Rip Torn, Louise Sorel, Dabney Coleman, and Joseph Campanella
Call to Danger (1973) with Diana Muldaur, Clu Gulager, Tina Louise, Stephen McNally, Michael Ansara, Paul Mantee, and Wesley Lau
The Five Man Army (1969) with Giacomo Rossi-Stuart
Call to Danger (1968) with James Gregory and Daniel J. Travanti
Mission Impossible Versus the Mob (1968) with Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Greg Morris, and Peter Lupus
Valley of Mystery (1967) with Richard Egan, Joby Baker, Lois Nettleton, Julie Adams, Lisa Gaye, Fernando Lamas, Lee Patterson, and Leonard Nimoy
The Ballad of Josie (1967) with Doris Day, George Kennedy, Andy Devine, William Talman, David Hartman, and Don Stroud
Texas Across the River (1966) with Dean Martin, Alain Delon, Rosemary Forsyth, Joey Bishop, and Michael Ansara
Sergeant Ryker (1965) with Lee Marvin, Bradford Dillman, Vera Miles, Lloyd Nolan, Murray Hamilton, and Norman Fell
A Rage to Live (1965) with Suzanne Pleshette, Bradford Dillman, Ben Gazzara, and James Gregory
Las Vegas Beat (1961) with Jamie Farr, Diana Millay, and Margaret Field
A Stranger in My Arms (1959) with June Allyson, Jeff Chandler, Sandra Dee, Charles Coburn, Mary Astor, Conrad Nagel, and Hayden Rorke
Wolf Larsen (1958) with Barry Sullivan
Death in Small Doses (1957) with Mala Powers, Chuck Connors, and Merry Anders
Bayou (1957) with Lita Milan, Jonathan Haze, and Ed Nelson
Beginning of the End (1957) with Peggie Castle and Morris Ankrum; once aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000
Canyon River (1956) with George Montgomery, Marcia Henderson, and Alan Hale Jr.
Hold Back the Night (1956) with John Payne, Chuck Connors, and Mona Freeman
It Conquered the World (1956) with Beverly Garland, Lee Van Cleef, Sally Fraser, Jonathan Haze, and Dick Miller; once aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000
The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955) with Gary Cooper, Ralph Bellamy, Rod Steiger, Elizabeth Montgomery, Fred Clark, Jack Lord, and Darren McGavin
The Night of the Hunter (1955) with Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, and Lillian Gish
The Naked Street (1955) with Farley Granger, Anthony Quinn, Anne Bancroft, Jerry Paris, and Whit Bissell
Wichita (1955) with Joel McCrea, Vera Miles, Lloyd Bridges, Edgar Buchanan, Keith Larsen, John Smith, Jack Elam, and Mae Clarke
Robbers' Roost (1955) with George Montgomery, Richard Boone, Bruce Bennett, Warren Stevens, and William Hopper
The Long Gray Line (1955) with Tyrone Power, Maureen O'Hara, Donald Crisp, Ward Bond, Betsy Palmer, Philip Carey, and Patrick Wayne
Fort Yuma (1955) with John Hudson and Joan Taylor
Black Tuesday (1954) with Edward G. Robinson, Milburn Stone, Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly, Russell Johnson, and William Schallert
The Raid (1954) with Van Heflin, Anne Bancroft, Richard Boone, Lee Marvin, Tommy Rettig, and James Best
The Yellow Tomahawk (1954) with Rory Calhoun, Peggie Castle, Noah Beery Jr., Lee Van Cleef, Rita Moreno, and James Best
Killers from Space (1954) with Barbara Bestar
Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953) with Robert Wagner, Terry Moore, Gilbert Roland, J. Carrol Naish, Richard Boone, Angela Clarke, and Gloria Gordon
East of Sumatra (1953) with Jeff Chandler, Marilyn Maxwell, Anthony Quinn, Suzan Ball, Jay C. Flippen, Scatman Crothers, and Earl Holliman
War Paint (1953) with Robert Stack, Joan Taylor, Charles McGraw, and Keith Larsen
Stalag 17 (1953) with William Holden, Otto Preminger, Harvey Lembeck, and Neville Brand
Red Planet Mars (1952) with Andrea King, Willis Bouchey, and Morris Ankrum
The Congregation (1952) with Keye Luke
Fort Defiance (1951) with Dane Clark, Ben Johnson, and Tracey Roberts
Rogue River (1951) with Rory Calhoun

7th Heaven, 1997-2007 WB/CW TV series. Graves portrayed John 'The Colonel' Camden on a recurring basis
Biography, 1987-present A & E TV series. Graves served as host from 1987-1994
War and Remembrance, 1988 ABC TV miniseries. Graves portrayed Palmer Kirby
Mission: Impossible, 1988-1990 ABC TV series. Graves portrayed Jim Phelps
The Winds of War, 1983 ABC TV miniseries. Graves portrayed Palmer Kirby
Mission: Impossible, 1966-1973 CBS TV series. Graves portrayed Jim Phelps from 1967-1973
Court Martial, 1966-1967 ABC TV series. Graves portrayed Maj. Frank Whittaker
Whiplash, 1960-1961 syndicated TV series. Graves portrayed Christopher Cobb
Fury, 1955-1960 NBC TV series. Graves portrayed Jim Newton
Where's Raymond?, 1953 ABC TV series

peter graves film now showing

starring in the Bert I. Gordon science fiction flick Beginning of the End
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