Despite his long career as a serious actor in dozens of films and television shows, Peter Graves, who has died aged 83, might be most remembered for a role that lampooned his square-jawed, stolid screen persona. As the captain of a plane heading for disaster in the spoof movie Airplane! (1980), Graves got laughs by playing it as straight as his other roles. (Although his roles in a number of trashy, low-budget science fiction movies in the 1950s had produced unintentional laughs.)
Audiences around the world were also familiar with Graves as the tall, gruff, deep-voiced, silver-haired Jim Phelps, head of the Imf (Impossible Missions Force), an elite American espionage group, in the TV series Mission: Impossible (1967-73). He won a Golden Globe in the role in 1971.
The show famously opened with the words: "Your mission,