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I know death is inevitable – and it’s entertainment that exploits this fact that we at FANGORIA trade in – but that cold fact doesn’t ever numb the deep sense of loss that grips you when it happens. After losing the fascinating American genre filmmaker Charles B. Pierce and troubled former teen actor Corey Haim last week, Monday morning greets us with the news that legendary screen presence Peter Graves has left us as well
Many of you may know Graves as the suave host of A&E’s BIOGRAPHY, or , if you’re a vintage TV junkie, from the original MISSION IMPOSSIBLE series. Still more of you will know him as the kiddie-loving Captain in AIRPLANE!. But a casual glance at the actor’s resume reveals a diverse career with many genre related credits.
Graves was in the wild, wonderfully awful 1954 Sci-Fi clunker KILLERS FROM SPACE. He also played Ben Harper, the bank robbing, depression-era father that sets the plot in motion in Charles Laughton’s masterful 1955 horror/morality tale NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. In 1956 he headed up the cast of the early Roger Corman classic IT CONQUERED THE WORLD. In the mid-sixties he starred in the TV made shocker THE EYE CREATURES and in 1974, he led the pack in the creepy Dan Curtis/Richard Matheson horrorshow SCREAM OF THE WOLF. He even made an appearance in one of this writer’s favorite guilty pleasures, 1979’s creepy and tacky CLONUS.
Graves was a handsome, strong and reliable character actor reared in a time when to be a successful actor meant you had to be able to switch gears, genres and mediums. Graves did all of that with ease and panache. He will be missed.
Here’s to a life in pictures...and here's hoping that there are gladiator movies in the afterlife…
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