|Jim Phelps (Peter Graves)|
|Profession:||Agency Director, Mission-Team Leader|
|Played by:||Peter Graves|
|First appearance:||Mission: Impossible (1966)|
|Last appearance:||Mission: Impossible (1966)|
|Last episode:||The Sands of Seth|
James "Jim" Phelps was the Director of the Impossible Missions Force and the "captain" of its most reliable "mission team" for several years. As the IMF Director and mission-team captain, it was his job to plan out the missions that his team would accomplish, considering all known, suspected, or possible angles. If anything failed to go according to plan during the mission, Phelps was quick enough to improvise so that the objective could still be obtained. ("The Controllers")
Though this was never actually revealed in any of the Missions, Phelps could be assumed to have served in the Intelligence Unit of whichever branch of the United States armed forces could claim him as a veteran, as he was as familiar as Daniel Briggs was with grand-scale confidence games which his mission teams usually played on the mission targets. This would seem to indicate that IMF training included the development of such expertise.
Phelps was born in 1929. He fought in the Korean War (at an unknown rank in the US
Navy - episode Homecoming S5E4) and worked (in an unknown job) for Pan American Airlines before entering government service.
As a former government operative, Phelps helped to form the Impossible Missions Force from a former elite Special Forces squad led by Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Daniel David Briggs, Ph.D., late of Army Intelligence(G-2). (Mission: Impossible)
(Colonel Briggs's military status and the IMF's military origins were both derived from early material for Mission: Impossible.)
Eventually, Phelps took over from Briggs as not only IMF Director but also the field leader for the core, and most effective, IMF mission team, which was unofficially called "The Director's Own." ("The Widow")
(As Steven Hill had been dismissed from the series cast because his Orthodox Judaism conflicted with the shooting schedule too frequently, the reason for Daniel Briggs's departure remains unknown.)
Original IMF Career
While Phelps could have a pick of many different agents for his missions, he usually picked a specific group. Originally, his top squad included Rollin Hand, Cinnamon Carter, Barney Collier, and William "Willy" Armitage, the same four members of Daniel Briggs's most reliable mission team, "The Director's Own." In the years afterwards, he replaced Hand (with The Great Paris), Carter (with Dana Lambert and later Lisa Casey), and added other talents for occasional missions, such as Dr. Douglas Robert Lang, Melany "Mimi" Davis, and a female operative known simply as Tracey. (Mission: Impossible--The 1960s And 1970s Missions)
The reliability of this section is extremely suspect, and indeed, as revealed below, information from the late 1980s missions directly contradicts it.
In 1974, with the eruption of the Watergate Scandal, the IMF was revealed as a public entity and Phelps was put on trial for its activities. For refusing to testify before Congress on a number of charges, Phelps was sentenced to six years in a federal penitentiary. (unproduced Mission: Impossible 1980) After his release from prison, he briefly formed a small squad with Hand, Carter, and Collier in order to take down rogue IMF agent John Victor. (Mission: Impossible 1980) This squad was soon replaced with another covert IMF formed by Phelps and Collier. Sometime after stopping a massive terrorist attack and rescuing a kidnapped scientist, Phelps retired from IMF service. (unproduced Mission: Impossible 1981, unproduced film Good Morning, Mr. Phelps)
(This information is directly contradicted by dialogue in the Mission Impossible 1988 episode "Reprisal," wherein Phelps and former IMF Agent Lisa Casey mention last seeing each other after a mission "nine years ago," thus about 1979 or 1980. The arrest of rogue IMF scientist Russell Acker occurred some time between a car accident Acker was involved in sometime in 1974 and the previously mentioned mission, probably 1975.)
Return to IMF Service
After the death of IMF leader Thomas "Tom" Copperfield, Phelps left retirement to lead a revised roster of his original team, still called "The Director's Own," which included Nicholas Black, former ANZAC sergeant Maxwell Hart, Grant Collier, Casey Randall, and later, after Randall was killed during a mission and had to be disowned, Shannon Reed. (Mission: Impossible--The 1988 Missions)