'Mission Impossible' Star Peter Graves Dead at 83

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PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. - Peter Graves, star of the hit television series "Mission Impossible," died of a heart attack on Sunday in front of his Los Angeles home. He was 83.

Graves had just returned from brunch with his family where they were planning his 84th birthday party, which would have taken place four days later. One of his daughters administered CPR, but she was unable to revive him.

In the course of his long career, Graves starred in more than 70 TV series and many feature films.

Graves is best known for his role as James Phelps, the chief of the Mission Impossible force, in the series that ran from 1967 to 1973 and was re-aired from 1988 to 1990. In 1971, he won a Golden Globe award for his role in "Mission Impossible."

Born in Minneapolis, the 6-ft. 2-in. actor studied drama at the University of Minnesota. In 1950, he took his maternal grandfather's name, Graves, to avoid confusion with his older brother, James Arness, who starred as Marshall Matt Dillon in the long-running television series "Gunsmoke."

Graves television career began in 1955 with the role of rancher Jim Newton in "Fury," a story about an orphaned boy and his black stallion.

In the mid-1980s, Graves hosted several science specials for "Discover," and in 1987 he hosted the Arts and Entertainment Network's "Biography" series.

The younger generation knew him as the pilot in the 1980 hit comedy, "Airplane" and "Airplane II: The Sequel."

In 1997, his life's story was presented in "Peter Graves: Mission Accomplished."

Filmmakers and actors remember Graves for his earnest approach to every role, which never failed to enhance the story's believablity.

He is survived by his wife, Joan, and three daughters, Amanda Lee Graves, Claudia King Graves and Kelly Jean Graves.

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