Peter Falk, TV's Columbo, dies


Image Credit: Adams/NBCU Photo Bank via AP Images

Peter Falk, the actor known to a generation as television’s Lt. Columbo, died yesterday in Beverly Hills, according to ABC News. “Falk died peacefully at his Beverly Hills home in the evening of June 23, 2011,” according to the statement from his family. He was 83.

Say Falk’s name and the image that instantly comes to mind is a slope-shouldered figure in a rumpled overcoat, staring down a suspect with one eye while the other roams unnervingly free. Few actors were ever identified with a single character as much as Falk was with Lt. Columbo, the slow-moving, sharp-witted detective he played in more than five dozen TV movies, beginning with 1968’s Presciption: Murder. But like his most famous character, Falk’s genial exterior concealed hidden depths. Falk came late to acting, earning a master’s in public administration and working as a Connecticut bureaucrat before taking legendary teacher Eva La Galienne’s advice to quit his day job. He spent the 1950s playing small roles on- and off-Broadway and eventually made the leap to movies, though not without a few setbacks. Falk’s false right eye — he lost the real one to cancer at the age of 3 — could have ruined his career, or at least confined him to playing eccentrics and psychopaths. But even in small roles, Falk made his mark, garnering back-to-back Supporting Actor Oscar nominations for Murder, Inc. (1961) and Pocketful of Miracles (1962). He lost, but eventually picked up five Emmys.

Falk’s comic skills (best seen in 1979’s The In-Laws) were never in doubt, but as a dramatic actor, in movies like Husbands and A Woman Under the Influence, he was consistently underrated. His instantly recognizable face gave Falk no choice but to play versions of himsef; even as an ex-angel walking the streets of Berlin in Wings of Desire, he’s accosted by children yelling “Columbo!” But Falk never caricatured himself, even if others did, and left a body of work that deserves further investigation.

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  • Mral

    RIP Peter Falk. You will be missed.

    • legalrider

      I saw Mr. Falk a number of times over the years at Knick games. He was always patient, well-mannered and fundamentally decent when interacting with the public. Too bad today’s “celebrities” lack such dignity and humility.

      • Earth Angel

        well said
        those who actully met Peter Falk was very lucky
        even when you watch Peter ..ifelt he was a patient man ..well mannered some how it came across in his acting ….he actor who up and coming actors can learn alot from and look up to by watching his dvds and how he presented himself
        love and light Earth Angel xx

    • Phyllis

      Falk will be missed by millions and will always be known as “COLUMBO”. I will pray that you will have peace in your hearts at thi times.

  • orville

    RIP detective. Loved him in Murder by Death.

    • Laura

      Agree, he was hilarious in Murder by Death.

      • kar

        Yes, if I had a choice in what movies TCM or AMC play for him, I’d choice Murder by Death and Wings of Desire.

    • Terri

      “I had a kid brother who got it the same way working on a case like this two years ago. That boy would’ve been 63 on Tuesday.”

    • teekay

      Same here, Murder by Death and The Princess Bride are two of my favorite movies. RIP Mr. Falk.

      • RaRa

        Oh, yes, I totally forgot he was in “The Princess Bride”. “The In-Laws” and “Colombo” are the two that I associate most strongly with him.

      • Sue1

        After Colombo, I always think of The Princess Bride, after seeing it so many times with my kids. A wonderful actor-RIP

    • Wes

      YES. This was the first thing I thought of. Fantastic actor. “You ever had it with a big blondie waitress?”

    • Kelly

      Loved Murder by Death

    • Toots

      I love Murder by Death, I have it on my DVR. Think I’ll watch it tonight. Love you Columbo!!!!!

  • kim

    loved is acting he will be missed

  • Lisa

    Such a great actor, I he will be missed. I thought he passed a few years back.

  • 867-5309

    RIP Peter Falk. Loved you as Columbo and in Murder by Death as well as many others.

  • Matt

    No mention of The Princess Bride? He was great in that movie.

    • llevinso

      I know. I loved him as the grandfather in that. RIP Peter Falk.

    • Luke

      Yes! RIP, Mr. Falk.

    • abadstroller

      His last line in “The Princess Bride”: “As you wish….”

      • Peter

        One of the loveliest, sweetest dialog themes ever to grace a movie. Up there with the best movie quotes ever. My grandfather used to say the very same thing, long before Princess Bride came along. I still get teary when I think about it.

    • E

      He was great. That should be included as well.

  • AltDave

    Condolences to his family and friends. Falk was one of my favorites. I loved COLUMBO and THE IN-LAWS is still hysterically funny; Falk and Alan Arkin were a great duo.

  • Joni

    And let’s not forget his small but memorable role in “The Princess Bride” as The Grandfather.

    “Colombo” was a great series and my family always watched that whole batch of shows that fell under the NBC Sunday Mysteries.

  • Bette

    Loved Mr. Falk in The Princess Bride as the grandfather, and Wings of Desire. Great, great actor. My condolences.

    • Bette

      And it goes without saying Columbo of course.

  • Tommy Marx

    I still remember my father laughing his butt off while we were watching “The In-Laws”. I was too young to get most of the jokes, but the look of sheer delight on my father’s face was so wonderful to see. Mr. Falk, you will be dearly missed.

  • Eoin

    RIP Peter Falk.

  • JoeC

    So many great performances. I caught MURDER INC on Netflix Instant Watch last month. He was the definition of “thug”. A well-deserved Oscar nomination for a terrifying performance. And check out the little-seen TUNE IN TOMORROW – he is achingly funny.

  • Syed Ahmed

    A truely talented man. He will be missed.


    He was a great actor. Thank you for the years of entertainment. I am so sorry he is gone. Condolences to his family.

  • An Average Sized Mustache

    Damn! One more thing, RIP.

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