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Peter Graves, Clevelander by Association

By admin Published: March 15, 2010

The actor has died, and the Associated Press obit is here. He was most famous for his work on "Mission: Impossible," both the '60s-70s version and the late '80s revival, and for his humorous turn in "Airplane."

Can't say I was a big fan of his "Mission: Impossible" work since I preferred his predecessor, Steven Hill (later seen in fine, gruff form on "Law & Order"). Hill looked more ordinary, and therefore more likely to blend into the many landscapes the series asked its team of spies to inhabit; Graves was movie-star handsome. But I do remember fondly his work in "Airplane" and his being part of the '50s series "Fury," which I watched regularly as a kid.

But his passing should include the note that he played a big-screen Clevelander in "Stalag 17," the William Holden comedy-drama about Americans in a World War II prison camp. Holden played a hard case named Sefton who is wrongly believed to be an informant for the Germans; he figures out that the actual stoolie is Graves's character, Price. Hence this dialogue:

Sefton: When was Pearl Harbor, Price, or don't you know that?
Price: December 7th, '41.
Sefton: What time?
Price: [smugly] 6:00. I was having dinner.
Sefton: 6:00 in Berlin. [to the other barracks members] They were having lunch in Cleveland. Am I boring you boys?
Hoffy: Go on.
Sefton: He's a Nazi, Price is. For all I know his name is Preissinger or Preishoffer. Oh, sure, he lived in Cleveland. But when the war broke out, he came back to the Fatherland like a good little Bundist. He spoke our lingo, so they sent him to spy school and fixed him up with phony dog tags.

Great movie, by the way. And R.I.P. for Peter Graves.

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