I was saddened to learn of the passing of Peter Graves this weekend. I first noticed his career when he played the father on Fury, and then in Mission Impossible as Jim Phelps. But, when I first saw Airplane at the Fox Theater in Portland, Oregon during the summer of 1980, I knew I was watching a classic American movie. I would wager that at least three out of every four airline employees could quote a line of Airplane dialogue off the top of their heads. While he didn’t have the largest role in Airplane and was being dragged down the aisle of the airplane half-way through the film, Peter Graves makes this movie a masterpiece with his role as Captain Oveur. From his first scene where he tells the operator to “give me a Hamm on five, and hold the Mayo” to handing his credit card to the attendant outside the airplane window, to his question “What’s the vector, Victor,” it is nonstop comedy delight. And that doesn’t even include Joey’s visit to the cockpit.
While Peter Graves has left us, Captain Oveur will be searching for the perfect vector for many years to come.