Mission Impossible

by Michael RichComment — Updated September 10, 2023

Mission: Impossible” is a classic American TV series that aired on CBS from 1966 to 1973 and was briefly revived in 1988. Produced by Bruce Geller, the show is famous for its suspenseful opening and iconic theme song by Lalo Schifrin.

The series followed the Impossible Mission Force (IMF), a covert team led initially by Daniel Briggs and later by Jim Phelps. The IMF specialized in high-stakes missions, often involving regime change or secret document retrieval.

The original cast included notable actors like Peter Graves, Greg Morris, and Barbara Bain. Despite various cast changes over the years, the show’s popularity endured. It has since inspired a successful film franchise starring Tom Cruise.


Mission Impossible

9/17/1966 – 9/8/1973
CBS 60 minutes
Color – 168 total episodes

Produced by Bruce Geller

Mission Impossible

10/23/1988 – 2/24/1990 CBS
60 minutes
Color – 35 total episodes

Mission Impossible Cast

Peter Graves as Jim Phelps (1967-1973)
Greg Morris as Barney Collier
Peter Lupus as Willy Armitage
Barbara Bain as Cinnamon Carter (1966-1969)
Martin Landau as Rollin Hand (1966-1969)
Leonard Nimoy as Paris (1969-1971)
Steven Hill as Daniel Briggs (1966-1967)
Lesley Ann Warren as Dana Lambert (1970-1971)
Sam Elliott as Dr. Doug Robert (1970-1971)
Lynda Day George as Lisa Casey (1971-1973)
Barbara Anderson as Mimi Davis (1972-1973)

Bob Johnson as Voice on Tape

Mission Impossible Theme Song

“Mission:Impossible” by Lalo Schifrin

Mission Impossible Tidbits

Mission Impossible Intro wav

“Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is… As usual, should you or any member of your I.M. Force be captured or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your existence. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Jim.”

Poof! The tape went up in smoke! However much or little people may recall of Mission:Impossible, no one could forget the tension packed opening augmented by Lalo Schifrin’s jazzy theme music.

In the first season, it was “your mission, Dan” as Steven Hill (real name, Solomon Krakovsky) played Daniel Briggs, leader of the Impossible Mission Force. Reportedly, Hill’s contract restrictions which limited the days and hours he would work in order for the Orthodox Jew to strictly observe his religion became a problem. In 1990, these limitations were accomodated by producer Dick Wolf as Hill began his 10 year run as D.A. Adam Schiff on Law and Order.

In the second season, the team is headed by Peter Graves as Jim Phelps. Graves, brother of Gunsmoke star James Arness, is the leader we remember. In the first seasons the self-destructing tape came with a packet of pictures of potential agents to use on the assignment. Since Jim always picked the same people, this seemed sort of silly and was eventually dropped.

The plots were always very complicated and usually involved the overthrow of some dictator or the theft of secret papers. In short, the kind of thing we imagine the CIA really does but doesn’t want to get caught doing. In later seasons, having reorganized a significant number of third world nations, the Mission Impossible Force turned its attention to crime syndicates in America.

The original cast included Greg Morris as Barney Collier, the electronics wiz, and Peter Lupus as Willie Armitage, the muscle. Barbara Bain was the obligatory female agent, Cinnamon Carter.

Bain’s real life husband Martin Landau was cast as Rollin Hand, the master of disguise. Originally this was to have been a brief appearance but his work so impressed producers, that he was signed as a permanent cast member.

Things went well for the first three seasons but then salary disputes with Paramount caused Bain and Landau to be replaced.Star Trek was finishing its run on the very next soundstage, which made Leonard Nimoy, who looks a bit like Landau, available. (see box at right). In what must be Nimoy’s destiny, he was given another one word name, Paris, and assumed Landau’s IMF duties.

In Perry Mason terms, you now get the Case of the Fleeting Females. Many women popped in and out to replace the Emmy winning Barbara Bain.

They resurrected Mission Impossible in 1988 as a workaround to the then ongoing Writer’s Strike. Based in Australia, they used old scripts and a mostly new cast. Peter Graves returned as Phelps and Phil Morris, Greg’s real life son, took over as Grant Collier.

Today we have the Tom Cruise movies. An enduring tribute to a unique show.


Bob Johnson died in 1994, Greg Morris died in 1996 of cancer and Peter Graves of a heart attack in 2010.Peter Graves in Mission Impossible
Peter Graves

Peter Lupus in Mission Impossible
Peter Lupus

Martin Landau and Barbara Bain
Martin Landau and Barbara Bain

Leonard Nimoy in Mission Impossible
Leonard Nimoy

Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible
Mission Impossible III
The Movie

Mission Impossible Trivia
Martin Landau turned down the part of Mr. Spock on Star Trek (fascinating decision) and was replaced on Mission Impossible by Leonard Nimoy, who accepted the role (wholly logical).
Mission Impossible Trivia
Speaking of Star Trek,both shows were originally projects of Desilu Studios. They were considered iffy due to their uniqueness.

What studio head gambled on both risky productions?Lucille Ball.

Mission Impossible Trivia
The show was very expensive to produce. They used twice as much film as any other show (movie length amounts).
Mission Impossible Trivia
Tension and speed were hallmarks of Mission Impossible. One technique they used was the quick insert of either a ticking clock or dripping water.

Mission Impossible Cast
Leonard Nimoy, Greg Morris, Lesley Ann Warren, Peter Lupus, Peter GravesMission Impossible Cast
Peter Lupus, Barbara Bain, Greg Morris, Peter Graves, Martin Landau

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