My family is currently enjoying the original Mission: Impossible TV series on Netflix streaming video. We started with the fifth season due to recognizable cast members and faster-paced plots than previous years. We've now completed that season. The fifth season is notable for having Leonard Nimoy, Leslie Ann Warren, and Sam Elliott together on the IMF team. This has led me to start researching the series and here are some things I learned:
1) Peter Graves did not join the cast until season 2, replacing Steven Hill as Dan Briggs, the original IMF leader.
2) Sam Elliott (Doug) was brought in to replace Peter Lupus (Willy) who contemplated quitting the show. Elliott was assimilated into the cast appearing in episodes alongside Lupus with Elliott listed as a guest star. Elliott's appearances in episodes without Lupus had Elliott replacing him in the opening credits. Once producers recognized Willy's popularity, Elliott was dropped and Lupus' complaints about his character's screen time were remedied.
3) The Mission: Impossible comic book ran five issues in 1967-1969. Issue 4 had the only photo cover with Peter Graves and was the only issue featuring the Jim Phelps character. Issue 5 was a reprint of issue 1. The comic only coincided with the first two seasons of the show.
4) During the fourth season, there was no female regular, but only female guest stars as IMF agents. The only recurring female agent was Lee Meriwether who appeared as Tracey in four episodes. She is loved by comic fans as Catwoman in the 1966 Batman movie.
5) Barbara Bain, who played Cinnamon Carter in seasons 1-3 reprised her role for an episode of Diagnosis: Murder titled Discards in 1997. Both Bain and her character, Cinnamon, had earlier careers as fashion models.
6) There was a revival series running on ABC from 1988-1990. Peter Graves was the only regular cast member from the original series, although Greg Morris (Barney) and Lynda Day George (Casey) reprised their original roles in guest appearances. Morris' son, Phil, was a regular on the revival series. The original series was on CBS from 1966-1973.
Here are just a few more interesting facts:
1) Female IMF agents appearing in multiple episodes include Barbara Bain (Cinnamon) seasons 1-3; Lee Meriwether (Tracey) season 4; Leslie Warren (Dana) season 5; Lynda Day George (Casey) seasons 6-7; and Barbara Anderson (Mimi) season 7.
2) Greg Morris and Peter Lupus were the only actors to stay with Mission: Impossible its entire run, although Lupus was absent for much of season 5.
3) Leaonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock on Star Trek) played The Great Paris on seasons 4-5, replacing Martin Landau who appeared in seasons 1-3.
Mission: Impossible is one of the true classics and a true original. It also had one of the best themes of all time.