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The Only Main Actors Still Alive From The Mission: Impossible TV Series

Younger fans of the "Mission: Impossible" franchise might only be familiar with the Tom Cruise films, but there were actually two "Mission: Impossible" TV shows long before Cruise started playing Ethan Hunt. From 1966 to 1973, the original "Mission: Impossible" series, which was created by Bruce Geller, aired on ABC and followed a rotating gang of intrepid secret agents hunting villains appropriate to the era (like Cold War baddies). 

The show was then revived for two seasons in 1988, bringing back star Peter Graves as leader Jim Phelps alongside a new cast and revamping scripts from the original show to fit modern times. Several of the original show's cast members — including Graves, Steven Hill, Leonard Nimoy, and Martin Landau — have passed away since the show first aired, but a handful of "Mission: Impossible" alumni are still around to carry on the show's legacy. Here are the only lead actors still alive who appeared on the first "Mission: Impossible" series.

Barbara Bain (Cinnamon Carter)

A classic damsel-in-distress who loved fashion, Barbara Bain's Cinnamon Carter was a model as well as a secret agent — which meant that her beauty and feminine wiles often helped her infiltrate exclusive spaces. (Still, many have pointed out over the years that because Cinnamon Carter was extremely famous, it's a bit weird that most of her targets didn't recognize her; suspension of disbelief is important.) Perhaps the most interesting detail about Cinnamon, an agent skilled at manipulating men using her good looks, was that the character is claustrophobic — which was a way to accomodate Bain's real-life claustrophobia, a condition that prevented her from being put into restrictive makeup and costumes.

Bain herself won three Emmy Awards for playing Cinnamon — which she did from 1966 to 1969 — and after "Mission: Impossible," she joined the cast of "Space 1999" as Dr. Helena Russell. The actress, who was married to her "Mission: Impossible" co-star Martin Landau from 1957 to 1993, recently appeared in Sofia Coppola's father-daughter dramedy "On the Rocks" in 2020 and guest-starred on many popular TV shows, including "Walker: Texas Ranger," "Murder, She Wrote," and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." In 2016, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Peter Lupus (Willy Armitage)

The agents in the original "Mission: Impossible" series all had unique skill sets, but Peter Lupus' William "Willy" Armitage could really do it all. Among his skills, Willy spoke multiple languages, was physically intimidating, was a scuba diver, rode a motorcycle, was an expert marksman, could swim long distances, and even made keys on the fly. As the show began, Willy didn't talk very much; instead, his skills were utilized by the rest of the group, and he notably had very few lines in each episode. After the 4th season, his character was expanded somewhat, which is where those multiple languages came in. Still, Willy was a classic strongman — which makes sense when you consider that Lupus was a bodybuilder in real life.

Lupus mostly trained as a bodybuilder, winning titles like Mr. Hercules and Mr. Indiana in his home state, before transitioning into acting, where he was initially credited under the name Rock Stevens in projects like 1964's "Muscle Beach Party." After playing Willy Armitage for a whopping 161 episodes of "Mission: Impossible," Lupus appeared on other popular shows like "The Carol Burnett Show" and "CHiPs" as himself — and notably, Lupus was one of just a few male actors to pose fully nude for Playgirl Magazine. In 2007, the strongman lifted a whopping 77,560 pounds in under 30 minutes simply to beat his own lifting record ... at the age of 75.

Lesley Ann Warren (Dana Lambert)

After Barbara Bain's Cinnamon Carter left "Mission: Impossible" following its third season, the team of agents needed a new femme fatale. That's where Lesley Ann Warren's Dana Lambert came in. Like Cinnamon, Dana used her beauty to its fullest effect, but was also quite young in the show's narrative, which made her seem vulnerable and in need around any of her targets. Her youth was merely a smokescreen, though; Dana was an extremely skilled agent who pulled her weight quite well with the rest of the team, and her only real weakness was her lack of physical strength.

Then credited simply as Lesley Warren, the actress appeared in "Mission: Impossible" quite early in her career; she ended up receiving a Golden Globe nod for best supporting actress for playing Dana. Warren's career really took off from there: In 1982, she earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress thanks to her role as Norma Cassidy in Julie Andrews' film "Victor/Victoria," and of course, audiences to this day know her from the cult classic "Clue," where she played a pitch-perfect Miss Scarlet alongside an all-star cast that included Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, and Michael McKean. Warren is still quite active as a performer: in 2018, she appeared in the "Daredevil" series (originally for Netflix), and in 2021, she guest-starred in the procedural "All Rise."

Sam Elliott (Dr. Doug Roberts)

It stands to reason that a team of super-spies could find use for a doctor, and throughout Seasons 5 and 6 of "Mission: Impossible," that role was filled by Sam Elliott's Dr. Doug Robert. In fact, in his first-ever mission, he ends up saving the life of fellow agent Barney Collier (Greg Morris) when Barney is poisoned, and he's always on hand to provide medical assistance whenever anyone gets injured. Doug was actually intended to replace Peter Lupus' Willy Armitage when the writers wanted to quietly remove the strongman from the show, but fan outcry was so intense that both remained on the show — though almost never in the same episode.

In the years since playing Doug Robert, Sam Elliott has become one of the most recognizable and iconic character actors in Hollywood, thanks in large part to his gruff, distinctive voice. (Yes, that is him narrating "The Big Lebowski" as The Stranger.) To name just a few of his huge film projects, Elliott has appeared in movies like "Tombstone," "Thank You for Smoking," "Up in the Air," and the 2018 remake of "A Star is Born." On the small screen, Elliott — who's been married to fellow actor Katharine Ross since 1984 — has popped up in everything from "Parks and Recreation" to "Grace and Frankie" to the "Yellowstone" spinoff "1883," where he plays Shea Brennan. 

Lynda Day George (Lisa Casey)

Lesley Ann Warren's character, Dana Lambert, only stuck around for the fifth season of "Mission: Impossible," so in the series' final two seasons, the femme fatale role was filled by Lynda Day George and her character Lisa Casey. Like Dana and Cinnamon Carter before her, Lisa used her beauty as a weapon, and was also a makeup expert who could impersonate just about anybody, which helped her sneak into places undetected. She was also often paired with Willy Armitage, with the two pretending to be a couple on various missions.

Originally a model, George ended up earning Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for her role as Lisa Casey — and in the years that followed, she mostly worked alongside her husband Christopher George, star of "The Rat Patrol." When her husband died in 1983, George worked less and less ... but she did appear briefly as Lisa Casey in the television reboot of "Mission: Impossible" and, in 2021, said she wanted to return to acting.