Saturday morning was a special time around my house when I was very young. On Saturday morning my older brothers and I were allowed to watch what we wanted. I was just three years old but my favorite show was not anything animated. My favorite show was called Fury. Fury starred Peter Graves as a ranch owner, Bobby Diamond as his adopted son and Fury an amazing stallion who loved the young boy. Thus began my passion for horses. Fury was a really strong and smart horse. He knew when people did good deeds and would reward them usually by getting them to where they needed to be. Mostly Fury would only allow the Diamond character, Joey, to ride him. This was pretty amazing stuff for me, a then three year old.
During the time Fury was on the air I was attending kindergarten in my home town (it wasn’t called pre-school then) and I had a girlfriend in my class. I liked to sit next to her when we were doing arts and crafts and I usually made my way near her in the afternoon for nap time. Occasionally we exchanged gum after it had already been chewed by one of us. Our version of french kissing I guess.
Her name is Claudia Graves and I was more than a little impressed when I was having a play date at her house one day, which happened to be just down the street from my own family home, and into the living room walks JIM NEWTON the owner of the Broken Wheel Ranch where Fury lived! It took me a minute to get the concept that Jim Newton was really an actor, Peter Graves and father to my sweetheart Claudia. This just seemed too good to be true and I thought it was so cool that I decided then and there I wanted to be an actor. Several weeks later while visiting at Claudia’s house I had a chance to ask Mr. Graves how he got to be an actor. He said, “I just thought about it.”
Good enough for me. I thought and thought and thought. Finally I thought about doing something about it and asked my parents to let me give it a shot. I started going to classes and acting lessons, got some 8×10 headshots and an agent. I was on my way.
After filming the Brady Bunch Pilot in 1968 and before we actually started filming the regular series in 1969 I had an extraordinary opportunity. I had an audition for a guest starring role in my then favorite TV series, Mission Impossible starring the man who inspired my whole career, Peter Graves. I got that role. Literally a dream come true.
Peter Graves passed away yesterday, March 13th. At the same time I was in Nashville doing what Peter inspired and I still love after all these years; acting onstage in a musical. His passing is a loss millions of people, along with myself feel. I always will be grateful to the wonderful contributions he made as an actor and a person including his remarkable return in the feature film Airplane. He was an inspiration to many and I am grateful for my personal connection with him.
I send out my warmest wishes and condolences to his wife Joan and daughters Kelly Jean, Amanda Lee, and first love Claudia.