|Subject: Arness died peacefully at his Brentwood CA. home. -A year earlier, brother actor Peter Grave "checked out" peacefully too, returning from a brunch w/his whole family celebrating his 84th birthday, when he dropped dead on the front lawn of his home!
His daughter tried CPR there on the spot, but he was dead.
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Date Posted: Thursday, June 04, 03:29:02pm
In reply to:
Bio & PHOTO
's message, "ARCHIVE: June 3, 2011 ~Veteran actor James Arness, best known for portraying Marshal Matt Dillon for 20 years in the TV's "Gunsmoke", dies of cancer at age 88. ..." on Wednesday, June 03, 03:12:43am
Archive: March 18, 2010
Film and television star Peter Graves, who once served as honorary mayor of Pacific Palisades, died Sunday of a heart attack outside his Santa Monica Canyon home. Today would have been his 84th birthday. Graves collapsed upon returning from brunch with his wife Joan and several family members at Beaurivage restaurant in Malibu. His daughter Kelly administered CPR, but was unable to revive him. ’This is sad news for the community and the whole television audience,’ current honorary mayor Gavin MacLeod told the Palisadian-Post. ‘Peter was a very humble actor and from humbleness comes greatness.’
Graves, whose career spanned 60 years, was best known for his Golden Globe-winning turn as James Phelps on the classic TV show ‘Mission: Impossible,’ which ran for seven seasons on CBS. He reprised the role in ABC’s revival of the iconic spy series from 1988 to 1990. Born Peter Aurness in Minneapolis, Graves became a radio announcer at age 16, and served two years in the Air Force before entering the University of Minnesota to study drama. Here he met Joan Endress, and he would later joke that for a Minneapolis boy like himself to court a woman from St. Paul, ‘That’s like the Montagues and the Capulets.’
He traveled ahead of Joan to Hollywood in the late 1940s, after his older brother, actor James Arness (‘Gunsmoke’), preceded him to Pacific Palisades. Graves paid his dues while trying to break into acting, as his friend Emil Wroblicky recently learned firsthand from Graves. ’He drove a cab for years!’ Wroblicky said. ‘I can’t imagine Peter Graves driving a taxi!’ Graves’ first credited film appearance was in ‘Rogue River’ (1950). When he landed a Hollywood contract for the picture, it persuaded his fianc’e’s family to let Joan marry him. He changed his name to Graves (his maternal grandfather’s name), to avoid confusion with Arness. ...
His film work included Billy Wilder’s 1953 classic ‘Stalag 17,’ in which he played a German spy opposite Oscar-winner William Holden in this story of American airmen held in a German World War II prisoner-of-war camp. He also played in John Ford’s ‘Long Gray Line’ and ‘Night of the Hunter,’ and, more recently, the blockbusters ‘Addams Family Values’ and ‘Men in Black II.’ Ironically, it was a movie that Graves initially turned down that became his most memorable. ’I tore my hair and ranted and raved and said, ‘This is insane,’ he said in 1997, recalling when he read the script for ‘Airplane!’ Graves turned down the role but the filmmakers convinced him that there was a method to their madness. He portrayed Capt. Clarence Oveur in the 1980 comedy and its sequel, uttering such absurdist lines as ‘Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?’
Graves’ small-screen career began in the mid-’50s when he landed a part on the NBC Western ‘Fury.’ From then on, he became a television regular with roles on ‘Whiplash’ and ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents.’ In the mid-’90s, Graves became the Emmy-winning host of A&E’s ‘Biography.’ News of Graves’ death sent sadness throughout Pacific Palisades, a community he adored and which adored him back. He and Joan were a vital part of the local scene. ’He was supposed to attend our St. Patrick’s Day dance at the Legion Hall this Saturday,’ Wroblicky said. ‘He was going to bring his clarinet and play with the Big Band Alumni, the guys who played with Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Henry Mancini. The last couple of times, they invited Peter to sit in and play. He chimed right in.’ Said Roberta Donohue, publisher of the Post: ‘I met Joan back in the ’80’s when she was the Community Council chairwoman and we instantly bonded. Peter would always greet us with open arms and a wide smile.’ Donohue’s daughter, Jennifer, has memories of accompanying the actor on her violin, at age 14, as he played piano and they performed tunes from ‘The Pajama Game’ at a party. Arnie Wishnick, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said he always enjoyed having Peter and Joan participate in the Chamber’s annual installation dinner at the Riviera Country Club. ’Peter may have been a celebrity known around the world, but he always realized that his wife Joan was a celebrity in Pacific Palisades,’ Wishnick said. ‘This is her territory. This is where she had name recognition. She was the star and Peter always let her have the spotlight.’
Added Donohue: ‘When Joan became Citizen of the Year in 1987, Peter and close friend Karen Proft teamed up as the emcees for the evening. Peter played the clarinet and Karen sang ‘If I Had You,’ a song that evoked memories of a young actor’s courtship of the future Mrs. Graves in college. Peter continued to help at our ‘Citizen’ events with cameo performances, such as during our Bob Jeffers roast in 2008 when he came on stage as a ‘spy. ’Peter had a wonderful sense of humor,’ Donohue continued. ‘One evening when a group of us went to the Golden Bull for dinner, he told a story about when he was doing live television in the ’50s. He had rehearsed all day with Esther Williams and they had a scene where she dives into a pool and he dives in after her. When this particular scene started filming, with a live audience watching at home, Peter dove into the pool and his trunks started to slip down his waist, down his knees, and by the time he reached the end of the pool, they were around his ankles. He climbed out and the cameraman, who was quick to see his dilemma, did a close up of his face and saved the day! The story had us all in tears of laughter, thanks to Peter’s delivery.’
Wroblicky encountered Graves last week in Santa Monica Canyon as the actor was struggled to find a parking space outside one of Peter’s favorite spots, The Golden Bull. Graves quipped, ‘Doesn’t anybody eat at home anymore?’ ’He was a gracious gentleman,’ said Golden Bull owner Don Cranston. ‘I always loved it when he was in the house because I loved the sound of his voice. Once I heard that voice, I knew who was here.’ Recently, Graves had been on a roll as various tributes to the actor were held. On October 30, he received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In November, he was honored by the Ojai Film Festival with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and by the Chamber of Commerce, which declared November 20, 2009 Peter Graves Day in Pacific Palisades. Presenting a plaque to Graves, actor MacLeod said, ‘It’s not as big as your star in Hollywood, but this is given to you with a lot of love.' ’Once my wife and I moved here and started to go to functions, Peter and Joanie were always there,’ MacLeod told the Post Monday. ‘Joanie is the best. They just don’t come better than her. They were a fabulous team. I used to call them Mr. and Mrs. Palisades. They enriched our lives.’
In addition to his wife of 59 years, Joan, Graves is survived by his daughter Kelly McCalsin (husband Mark) of Palos Verdes; daughter Claudia King (husband John) of Newberry Park; daughter Amanda Graves of Gardenerville, Nevada; and grandchildren Victoria, Peter, Jennifer, Katie, Skyler and Trevor. A memorial service was held on Friday, March 19, a day after what would have been his 84th birthday.
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