When most people heard of the death of actor Peter Graves yesterday, they probably thought of him as Agent Phelps on “Mission Impossible” or as Captain Oveur in “Airplane.” My memories go back father than that to a time (1955-1960) when he played the role of Jim Newton in the TV series “Fury.”
A city boy, I didn’t grow up on a spread anything the Broken Wheel Ranch–it was a ranch-style house, but in a sprawling, north Florida neighborhood. So of course I didn’t know Jim’s adopted son Joey or Pete, the foreman of the place, but I knew people like them. Truth be told, had I lived on the fictional ranch or been anywhere near the set where the show was filmed, my best friend probably would have been the American Saddlebred stallion named Beaut who starred as Fury–and on other shows as well along with the movie “Giant.”
Fury was as wild as his name; Joey could ride him, but no one else except on special occasions. Jim Newton was a nice guy and, like Peter Graves in most of his starring roles, he played a strong, upstanding kind of guy, a Gary Cooper kind of guy that had strong values and didn’t tolerate a lot of shades of grey when it came to sorting out right from wrong.
On “Fury,” greenhorns were always getting into trouble and Fury–like Lassie–was there to rescue them. Things always worked out fine on “Fury” and that included the rather sappy closing shot with the cast laughing at something at the gate to the ranch.
In those days, my heroes were the plain-spoken guys who owned ranches and solved problems or rode into town when trouble was brewing and stood up against the clowns and riffraff in spite of the odds. I liked that, and I liked the fact they always had a faithful horse.
Sure, I remember Agent Phelps, but Jim Newton rings a louder bell.