Saturday, June 25, 2011

Columbo played by Peter Falk

Peter Michael Falk was born in 1927 in New York, New York.  He was most famous for portraying TV detective Columbo who always wearing a trench coat with cigar in hand and driving a beat up old Peugeot.  Falk's characters he played had a distinctive squinty eyed appearance. The reason was not intentional, Falk had a glass eye since he was 3 years old.

Peter Falk played the trench coat wearing detective Columbo

In the 1950s, Falk quit his job and began acting with a theatre group near Hartford, CT.  His first professional stage appearance was in an off-Broadway production of Don Juan and The Iceman Cometh with Jason Robards.


Peter Falk made his Broadway debut in 1956, in Diary of a Scoundrel and Saint Joan.


Falk made his television debut in an episode of Robert Montgomery Presents in 1957.  That same year he also appeared in Cameral Three and Studio One In Hollywood with Betty Furness and Nancy Marchand.


Peter would go on to star in Armstrong Circle Theatre with Michael Constantine, Felix Deebank and Douglas Edwards; and Kraft Theatre: Night Cry with Jack Klugman, John McQuade, and David Kurlan. 

Falk made his film debut in Wind Across the Everglades co-starring Burl Ives, Christopher Plummer, Gypsy Rose Lee ,Chana Eden, and Emmett Kelly.  He also appeared in the TV show Naked City with John McIntire, James Franciscus and Harry Bellaver.


Peter starred in the film The Bloody Brood with Barbara Lord, Jack Betts, Ron Taylor, Robert Christie, and Ron Hartmann; New York Confidential starring Lee Tracy; Decoy starring Beverly Garland and Harold Huber; and Brenner starring Edward Binns and James Broderick.


Falk landed another film credit starring in Pretty Boy Floyd with John Ericson, Barry Newman, Roy Fant, Joan Harvey, Casey Peyson, and Al Lewis; Murder, Inc. co-starring Stuart Whitman, May Britt, Sarah Vaughan, Henry Morgan, and Morey Amsterdam; The Islanders starring Diane Brewster, Noel Drayton, and Daria Massey; Have Gun - Will Travel starring Richard Boone, Eric Alden, Warren Oates, and Jim Boles; The Untouchables starring  Robert Stack and Virginia Vincent; Naked City starring Paul Burke, Horace McMahon and Harry Bellaver; The Secret of the Purple Reef co-starring Jeff Richards, Richard Chamberlain, and Margia Dean; and The Witness starring Ted Beniades, Augusta Merighi, and Frank Daly.


Peter appeared in The Law and Mr. Jones starring James Whitmore with Joyce Van Patten and Leo Penn; The Aquanauts starring Jeremy Slate and Keith Larsen with Lewis Charles and Joyce Meadows; Cry Vengeance! co-starring Cal Bellini, Jack Bittner, Ben Gazzara, Sorrell Booke, and Sal Mineo; The Million Dollar Incident co-starring Jackie Gleason, Millette Alexander, Robert Dane, Sorrell Booke, Jack Klugman, Harvey Lembeck, and Barnard Hughes; Alfred Hitchcock Presents with Alfred Hitchcock and Paul Hartman; The Barbara Stanwyck Show with Barbara Stanwyck, Dub Taylor, and Leon Ames; Target: The Corruptors starring Stephen McNally, Robert Harland, Arlene Martel, Walter Matthau, and Allen Jaffe; The Untouchables starring  Robert Stack, Murray Hamilton and Ned Glass; Twilight Zone starring Will Kuluva and Antony Carbone; Naked City starring Paul Burke, Horace McMahon and Harry Bellaver; and Pocketful of Miracles co-starring Glenn Ford, Bette Davis, Hope Lange, Arthur O'Connell, Edward Everett Horton, and Ann-Margret.


Falk appeared in the series The New Breed starring Leslie Nielsen, Victor Buono, Joseph Ruskin, and Joan Hackett; 87th Precinct starring Robert Lansing, Ron Harper and Norman Fell; Naked City starring Paul Burke, Horace McMahon and Harry Bellaver; Here's Edie starring Edie Adams; Pressure Point starring Sidney Poitier, Bobby Darin, and Howard Caine; The Alfred Hitchcock Hour starring Alfred Hitchcock and Dina Merrill; and The Dick Powell Theatre (2 episodes) starring Dick Powell, Inger Stevens, and June Allyson.

Peter Falk and Sidney Poitier in Pressure Point 1962


Peter appeared in The Dick Powell Theatre starring David Niven, Marjorie Bennett, and Carol Lynley; The Balcony co-starring Shelley Winters, Lee Grant, Joyce Jameson, Ruby Dee, and Leonard Nimoy; Dr. Kildare starring Richard Chamberlain, Raymond Massey, Bill Bixby, and Noreen Corcoran; Wagon Train co-starring John McIntire, Robert Fuller and Denny Miller; and It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World co-starring Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Don Knotts, Mickey Rooney, Sid Caesar, Phil Silvers, Dick Shawn, Jonathan Winters, Dorothy Provine, and Edie Adams.

Peter Falk played a cabbie in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World 1963


Jackie Gleason and His American Scene Magazine with Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Jack Klugman, and Dina Merrill; Robin and the 7 Hoods co-starring  Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Barbara Rush, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby, and Victor Buono; Ambassador at Large; Attack and Retreat aka Italiani brava gente co-starring Arthur Kennedy, Zhanna Prokhorenko and Raffaele Pisu; and Ben Casey (2 episodes) starring Vince Edwards, Sam Jaffe and Jeanne Bates;


Falk starred in the film The Great Race with Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Vivian Vance, Arthur O'Connell, Jack Lemmon, Dorothy Provine, Keenan Wynn, Larry Storch, Ross Martin, and Denver Pyle;  In this year, Falk landed the regular role of Daniel O'Brien in the TV series The Trials of O'Brien.  The show featured guest stars Joanna Barnes, Edgar Stehli, Elaine Stritch, Murray Hamilton, Ken Kercheval, David Carradine, and Britt Ekland.  He played the role for 2 years until the show ended.

Peter Falk as Daniel O'Brien in his first regular TV show The Trials of O'Brien 1965


Falk continued his role in Trials of O'Brien.  He also starred in the TV movie Brigadoon co-starring Robert Goulet, Sally Ann Howes, Marlyn Mason, and Edward Villella; and the film Penelope co-starring Natalie Wood, Ian Bannen, Jonathan Winters, and Dick Shawn.

Peter appeared in the show The Red Skelton Hour;  the film Luv co-starring Jack Lemmon, Elaine May, Paul Hartman, and Nina Wayne; and Too Many Thieves co-starring Britt Ekland, David Carradine, Nehemiah Persoff, Joanna Barnes, and Elaine Stritch.

Jack Lemmon, Elaine May, and Peter Falk in the film Luv 1967


Peter Falk made his debut as Lieutenant Columbo in the TV movie Prescription: Murder.  He co-starred with Gene Barry, Katherine Justice, Nina Foch, Andrea King, William Windom, and Virginia Gregg; A Hatful of Rain co-starring Sandy Dennis, Michael Parks, Don Stroud, and Herschel Bernardi; and the film Anzio co-starring Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Earl Holliman, Arthur Kennedy, and Mark Damon.

Peter Falk in the debut of the character Lt. Columbo in Prescription: Murder 1968
Peter Falk in Anzio 1968


Falk starred in Machine Gun McCain with John Cassavetes, Britt Ekland, Gabriele Ferzetti, and Luigi Pistilli; and Castle Keep co-starring Burt Lancaster, Patrick O'Neal, Astrid Heeren, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Bruce Dern, and Scott Wilson.


Peter starred in the Italian film Rosolino Paternò, soldato... co-starring Nino Manfredi, Jason Robards, and Martin Landau; and Husbands co-starring Ben Gazzara, John Cassavetes, Jenny Lee Wright, Jenny Runacre, and Noelle Kao.


Falk appeared in the series The Name of the Game starring David Wayne, Gene Barry, and Robert Emhardt; and A Step Out of Line co-starring Vic Morrow, Jo Ann Pflug, Tom Bosley, Peter Lawford, John Randolph, and Lynn Carlin.

It was in this year that the popularity of Falk's character Leiutenant Columbo spawned the first television series entitled, Columbo.  Some regular featured guest stars include: John Finnegan (Barney), Bruce Kirby (Sergeant George Kramer),  Mike Lally (bartender), Shera Danese (Cathleen Calvert), Vito Scotti (Chadwick), Charles D. Miller (policeman), Fred Draper (cabbie), Ed McCready (detective), Robert Culp (Dr. Bart Keppel), Patrick McGoohan (Colonel Rumford), and Val Avery (Artie Jessup).  Falk would play the role of Columbo for 7 years until the show was cancelled in 1978. However, Columbo was not totally out of the picture.

Peter Falk as Lt. Columbo in the TV series Columbo
Peter Falk as Columbo

During his run on Columbo, Peter appeared on Broadway in The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1972).  Falk also appeared in TV movies and films such as A Woman Under the Influence co-starring Gena Rowlands, Fred Draper, Lady Rowlands, Matthew Cassel, Katherine Cassavetes, and John Finnegan (1974); Griffin and Phoenix: A Love Story co-starring Jill Clayburgh, Dorothy Tristan, Sally Kirkland, and John Lehne (1976).

Peter Falk and Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence 1974

Murder by Death co-starring Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Eileen Brennan, James Coco, Truman Capote, David Niven, and Elsa Lanchester (1976); Mikey and Nicky co-starring John Cassavetes, Ned Beatty, Carol Grace, Joyce Van Patten, Rose Arrick, and M. Emmet Walsh (1976); and Opening Night co-starring Gena Rowlands, John Cassavetes, Joan Blondell, John Finnegan, Ben Gazzara, Zohra Lampert, Fred Draper, Katherine Cassavetes, and Paul Stewart (1977). 

Peter Falk in Murder By Death 1976
John Cassavetes and Peter Falk in Mikey and Nicky 1976

After his initial run on Columbo, Falk went on to star in The Cheap Detective with Ann-Margret, Sid Caesar, Dom DeLuise, Eileen Brennan, Stockard Channing, Madeline Kahn, James Coco, John Houseman, Louise Fletcher, Phil Silvers, Paul Williams, David Ogden Stiers, and Abe Vigoda (1978); The Brink's Job co-starring Peter Boyle, Warren Oates, Gena Rowlands, Allen Garfield, and Paul Sorvino (1978); The In-Laws co-starring Alan Arkin, Richard Libertini, Penny Peyser, Nancy Dussault, Ed Begley Jr., Arlene Golonka, and James Hong (1979).

Peter Falk in The Cheap Detective 1978

In 1981, Peter made a cameo as a tramp in The Great Muppet Caper co-starring Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson, Charles Grodin, John Cleese, Peter Ustinov, Diana Rigg, Jack Warden, Robert Morley, and Steve Whitmire.  He also starred in ...All the Marbles co-starring Vicki Frederick, Burt Young, Laurene Landon, Claudette Nevins, Tracy Reed, and Ursaline Bryant; Falk starred in Big Trouble (1986);  Wings of Desire co-starring Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin and Otto Sander (1987); Happy New Year co-starring Charles Durning, Claude Lelouch, Wendy Hughes, Tom Courtenay, Karina Etcheverry, and Debra Garrett (1987); The Princess Bride co-starring Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, Christopher Guest, Chris Sarandon, André the Giant, Fred Savage, Wallace Shawn, Carol Kane, and Billy Crystal (1987); Vibes co-starring Cyndi Lauper, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Lerner, Ramon Bieri, and Harvey J. Goldenberg (1988); and Cookie co-starring Dianne Wiest, Brenda Vaccaro, Emily Lloyd, Jerry Lewis, Michael V. Gazzo, Adrian Pasdar, and Ricki Lake (1989).

Peter Falk made a cameo as a bum in The Great Muppet Caper 1981, appearing with Kermit the Frog

Falk started off the 1990s with In the Spirit co-starring Marlo Thomas, Elaine May, Melanie Griffith, Jeannie Berlin, Olympia Dukakis, and Phillip Schopper (1990); Tune in Tomorrow... co-starring Barbara Hershey, Keanu Reeves, Patricia Clarkson, Bill McCutcheon, and Richard Portnow (1990); The Larry Sanders Show starring Garry Shandling, Jeffrey Tambor and Megan Gallagher (1992); Cops n Roberts co-starring Priscilla Barnes, Don Calfa, Arlene Golonka, Herb Edelman, Leann Hunley, and Stephen Furst (1995); Roommates co-starring D.B. Sweeney, Ellen Burstyn, Julianne Moore, Noah Fleiss, and Jan Rubes (1995); The Sunshine Boys co-starring Woody Allen, Michael McKean, Sarah Jessica Parker, Edie Falco, Olga Merediz, and Liev Schreiber (1996); Pronto co-starring Glenne Headly and James LeGros (1997); Vig aka Money Kings co-starring Lauren Holly, Tyne Daly, Timothy Hutton, Freddie Prinze Jr., and Tony Sirico (1998);

It was in 1998 that Peter Falk resurrected his role as Columbo and the TV series was reborn, this time with Falk at the helm as executive producer.  Falk would play the role of Columbo as the series lasted another 5 years until it was cancelled in 2003.

Peter Falk as Lt. Columbo and his beat up but trusty Peugeot convertible

During his second run on Columbo, Falk also starred in films and TV movies such as From Where I Sit co-starring David Paymer, Marcia Gay Harden, Daveigh Chase, Lizzy Caplan, Robert Klein, and Jane Adams (2000); A Storm in Summer co-starring Andrew McCarthy, Aaron Meeks, Nastassja Kinski, Ruby Dee, andd Gillian Barber (2000); Lakeboat co-starring Charles Durning, Denis Leary, Jack Wallace, Robert Forster, George Wendt, Andy Garcia, and Roberta Angelica (2000); Enemies of Laughter co-starring David Paymer, Judge Reinhold, Marilu Henner, Rosalind Chao, Bea Arthur, Paul Sampson, Daphne Zuniga, Kathy Griffin, Vanessa Angel, and Christina Fulton (2000); Hubert's Brain co-starring Jonathan Harris, Bruce Campbell, and J.D. Daniels (voice, 2001); Made co-starring Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Makenzie Vega, Joe Goossen, Famke Janssen, Jenteal (Reanna Rossi), Kimberley Davies, Faizon Love, and Jonathan Silverman (2001); Corky Romano co-starring Chris Kattan, Vinessa Shaw, Peter Berg, Fred Ward, Vincent Pastore, Richard Roundtree, and Chris Penn (2001); A Town Without Christmas co-starring  Patricia Heaton, Rick Roberts and Ernie Hudson (2001); The Lost World co-starring Bob Hoskins, James Fox, Elaine Cassidy, Tom Ward, Matthew Rhys, and Nathaniel Lees (2001); Three Days of Rain co-starring Penelope Allen, Erick Avari, Blythe Danner, Wayne Rogers, Alimi Ballard, and Bruce Bohne (2002); and Undisputed co-starring Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhames, Michael Rooker, Jon Seda, and Amy Aquino (2002).

Vinessa Shaw and Peter Falk in Corky Romano 2001

After his final run on Columbo, Peter Falk starred in Wilder Days with Tim Daly, Josh Hutcherson, Kate Vernon, Conchita Campbell, and Ian Marsh (2003); Finding John Christmas co-starring Valerie Bertinelli, William Russ, Maria Ricossa, Jennifer Pisana and David Cubitt (2003); Shark Tale with Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro, Jack Black, Renée Zellweger, Martin Scorsese, Ziggy Marley, Michael Imperioli, Vincent Pastore, Doug E. Doug, and Katie Couric (voice, 2004); When Angels Come to Town co-starring Mark Akeson, Dylan Aucoin, Mark Antony Krupa, and Tammy Blanchard (2004); Checking Out co-starring Laura San Giacomo, Jeffrey D. Sams, Judge Reinhold, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, David Paymer, Shera Danese, and Tony Todd (2005); The Thing About My Folks co-starring Paul Reiser, Elizabeth Perkins, Ann Dowd, Claire Beckman, Rachel Robinson, and Marshall Efron (2005); Three Days to Vegas co-starring Rip Torn, George Segal, Nancy Young, Reginald VelJohnson, and Billy Burke (2007); and Next co-starring Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore and Jessica Biel (2007).

Peter Falk and Paul Reiser in The Thing About My Folks 2005
Nicholas Cage and Peter Falk in the film Next 2007

In 2008, Peter was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease showing symptoms such as dimensia. Falk's last appearance as an actor would be in American Cowslip with Ronnie Gene Blevins, Diane Ladd, Cloris Leachman, Val Kilmer, Hanna Hall, Priscilla Barnes, Bruce Dern, and Rip Torn (2009).

Peter Falk in 2008

After battling Alzheimer’s disease for a few years, Peter Falk passed away at the age of 83 on June 23, 2011.  He will be sorely missed!

Peter Falk 1927-2011

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