Search Results for: columbo

Joe Dator’s Rediscovering “Columbo”


Over the last year I’ve posted about my wife’s and my renewed interest and love for Columbo starring Peter Falk.  Because the series is so popular it appears on several networks daily which makes recording episodes easy. My wife and I have been working our way through every episode.  Joe Dator is doing the same thing.

Joe Dator is an accomplished cartoonist whose work can regularly be found in The New Yorker, often be found in Mad Magazine and Esquire and believe it or not, at his personal website.  Joe was a winner of The National Cartoonists Society’s 2018 Silver Reuben Award.

I tell you all of this as a way of introduction into Joe Dator’s Rediscovering “Columbo” in 2020.  The cartoon strip first appeared in The New Yorker last October, but can be seen in full at Joe’s website.  I agree with everything Joe says about the joys of watching Columbo.  The one thing I would add is that while Columbo’s first name is never spoken it does appear to eagle-eyed viewers when Columbo shares his ID in a few episodes.

“Columbo: Prescription Murder” Trivia

My wife and I are working our way through the Columbo series and really enjoying it. Columbo is experiencing a revival of sorts with the series running in several places and more social media posts about it.  I watched and enjoyed Columbo when it first aired, but it is all new to my wife.

Columbo first appeared in a tv movie in 1968.  It wasn’t until 3 years later that the series of Columbo tv movies started.  It then ran from 1971 – 1978; 1989 – 1995; 1997 – 1998, 2001; and 2003.

Getting back to the first Peter Falk Columbo: Prescription Murder, Me-TV takes a look at 7 Things You Never Noticed about the Columbo pilot, Prescription: Murder.  Here are my three favorite facts and thoughts about each…

  • Peter Falk does not appear until 30 minutes into the story.  (This is one of the things that made the Columbo series unique.  The star doesn’t appear until well into the movie and viewers know who the killer is.  What makes it fun is watching how Columbo figures it out. – Craig)
  • Lt. Columbo had more stylish footwear.  (At this point, Falk had not worked out all of Columbo’s unique traits – the crumpled, old raincoat, the scuffed shoes, his beat-up foreign car and more. – Craig)
  • This was not the first time Columbo had appeared on TV.  (Bert Freed first played Columbo in an episode of an anthology series.  Freed is probably best remembered from his role in Billy Jack or any of his dozens (and dozens) of guest appearances on popular tv shows from the 1950s through the 1980s.  – Craig)

COLUMBO: “Just One More Thing…”

Not quite two weeks ago I posted that my wife and I had been watching and enjoying Columbo.  We still are.  It seems that many of the folks who stop by here have a fondness for Columbo as well.  One of them, Papa Stas, even directed me to a site called The Columbophile: The blog for those who LOVE Lieutenant Columbo.

The Columbophile has everything that a Columbo fan would want including an episode guide, episode rankings, Columbo facts, links to resources including where you can view full episodes, gifts and more!  Before you click over, let me share three of the facts I learned while there…

  • Peter Falk won 4 Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Lieutenant Columbo in 1972, 1975, 1976 and 1990.
  • In 1997, Murder by the Book was ranked at No. 16 in TV Guide‘s ‘100 Greatest Episodes of All Time’ list. Two years later, the magazine ranked Lieutenant Columbo No. 7 on its ’50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time’ list.
  • Peter Falk had a sometimes fractious relationship with Universal. During the filming of Season 1, and believing the studio was trying to renege on an agreement to let him direct an episode, Falk was even barred from the set. Filming of Dead Weight and Lady in Waiting was affected.

“Columbo” Trivia!

My wife and I have been watching Columbo quite a bit lately.  Since the show is available on several networks throughout the week, we’ve been DVRing them all to watch at our convenience.

I watched Columbo pretty regularly when it first aired, but I was at the age where I missed more than a few due to other priorities.  My wife never really tuned in.  We’re both enjoying the show now.  It’s fun to see the number of stars appearing as the murderer (or murdered) and even more fun spotting future stars getting their first breaks as a background player.

The fine folks at MeTV posted 13 Little Details You Probably Missed in Columbo.  It’s a fun piece you’d probably enjoy even if you don’t watch Columbo.  Before you click over here are three of my favorites and my thoughts (but for the full details click over)!

Columbo does secretly reveal his first name, once.

(This was a surprise to me.  I didn’t think Columbo’s first name was ever revealed.  In fact we just watched an episode where Columbo was flat out asked his first name.  His response was something to the effect of only his wife uses it and everyone else calls him, “Columbo”. But thanks to MeTV, now we know! – Craig)

The author from the first episode has books in later mysteries.

(I love this.  It shows that the people who made the series were paying attention to what went on before, and it creates a universe for Columbo that feels real. – Craig)

Captain Kirk makes a cameo.

(Ha!  This is a great trivia item.  Captain Kirk makes a cameo. Not William Shatner – he guest stars, but Captain Kirk appears in the same show.  Eagle eyed viewers would catch that.  I’ll be on the lookout when I see the episode. – Craig) 

10 Things You Might Not Know About Columbo

Kara Kovalchik and Mental Floss present 10 Things You Might Not Know About Columbo.  Here are three of my favorites…

9. THE SERIES DIDN’T FOLLOW A STANDARD MYSTERY FORMAT.
The premise of Columbo was the “inverted mystery,” or a “HowCatchEm” instead of a “WhoDunIt.” Every episode began with the actual crime being played out in full view of the audience, meaning viewers already knew “WhodunIt.” What they wanted to know is how Lt. Columbo would slowly zero in on the perpetrator. This sort of story was particularly challenging for the series’s writers, and they sometimes found inspiration in the most unlikely places. Like the Yellow Pages, for example. One of Peter Falk’s personal favorite episodes, “Now You See Him,” had its genesis when the writers were flipping through the telephone book looking for a possible profession for a Columbo murderer (keep in mind that all of Columbo’s victims and perps were of the Beverly Hills elite variety, not your typical Starsky and Hutch-type thug).

A page listing professional magicians caught their eye, and that led to a classic episode featuring the ever-suave Jack Cassidy playing the role of the former SS Nazi officer who worked as a nightclub magician. When the Jewish nightclub owner recognized him and threatened to expose him, well, you can guess what happened. But the challenge is to guess how Lt. Columbo ultimately caught him.

7. STEVEN SPIELBERG GOT AN EARLY BREAK ON COLUMBO.
“Murder by the Book” was the second Columbo episode filmed, but it was the first one to air after the show was picked up as a series. Filming was delayed for a month, though, when Falk refused to sign off on this “kid”—a 25-year-old named Steven Spielberg—to direct the episode. Finally he watched a few of Spielberg’s previous credits (all of them TV episodes) and was impressed by his work on the short-lived NBC series called The Psychiatrist. Once filming was underway, Falk was impressed by many of the techniques employed by the young director, such as filming a street scene with a long lens from a building across the road. “That wasn’t common 20 years ago,” Falk said. He went on to tell producers Link and Levinson that “this guy is too good for Columbo.”

6. THE CHARACTER’S TRADEMARK RAINCOAT CAME FROM FALK’S CLOSET.
The initial wardrobe proposed for Columbo struck Peter Falk as completely wrong for the character. To get closer to what he wanted for Columbo, the actor went into his closet and found a beat-up coat he had bought years earlier when caught in a rainstorm on 57th Street. And he ordered one of the blue suits chosen for him to be dyed brown. The drab outfit would become one of the trademarks of the character for decades.

16 Fascinating Facts About Peter Falk and “Columbo”

Me-TV presents 16 Fascinating Facts About Peter Falk and Columbo.  Here are three of my favorites (and it was tough to just choose three):

HE WAS THE FIRST ACTOR NOMINATED FOR AN OSCAR AND EMMY THE SAME YEAR.
In 1961, Falk earned the distinction of becoming the first actor to be nominated for an Oscar and an Emmy in the same year. He received nominations for his supporting roles in Murder, Inc. and television program The Law and Mr. Jones. Incredibly, Falk repeated this double nomination in 1962, being nominated again for a supporting actor role in Pocketful of Miracles and best actor in “The Price of Tomatoes,” an episode of The Dick Powell Theatre, for which he took home the award.

HE WASN’T THE FIRST ACTOR TO PLAY COLUMBO.
Though the character Columbo first appeared on television in 1960, it would be nearly a decade before Falk would become synonymous with the rumpled detective. First, Bert Freed played the LAPD flatfoot in a 1960 episode of anthology series The Chevy Mystery Show. A couple years later, Thomas Mitchell (pictured to the left) played the sleuth onstage in a production called Prescription: Murder in San Francisco. When it was decided that the play would be turned into a television movie in 1968, the lead was offered to Lee J. Cobb and Bing Crosby, but Falk landed the part.

HE SUPPLIED COLUMBO’S WARDROBE AND OFTEN AD LIBBED.
Perhaps to add further authenticity to the LAPD detective, Falk personally supplied his character’s shabby clothes. One anecdote purports that when asked whether Columbo’s trademark raincoat was in the Smithsonian, the actor retorted that the garment was in his upstairs closet. Falk also ad libbed extensively as the character, throwing adversaries (and fellow actors) off balance with improvised misdirection.

RIP: William Link

William Link, best known as co-creator of Columbo, passed away on Sunday, December 27th from congestive heart failure.  Mr. Link was 87.

William Link often partnered with Richard Levinson to write, create and produce everything from radio scripts to teleplays and feature films.  In addition to co-creating Columbo, Link along with Levinson and Peter S. Fischer created the popular and long-running television program Murder, She Wrote.  Link and Levinson also created Mannix in addition to other tv series.  Link and Levinson’s television movies included My Sweet Charlie, That Certain Summer, and (my favorite) The Execution of Private Slovak starring a young Martin Sheen. Their scripts for feature films included The Hindenburg; Rollercoaster; and Steve McQueen’s last film The Hunter.

Link and Levinson won numerous awards throughout their long partnership including two Emmys, two Golden Globes, four Edgar Allan Poe Awards and many others.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to William Link’s family, friends and fans.

RIP – Peter Falk

Peter Falk, best known as tv’s legendary Detective Columbo, died last night at the age of 83.

My first memory of Peter Falk is in his role as Maximilian Meen from The Great Race.  Truth be told, I’d probably seen Mr. Falk earlier in one of his guest appearances on tv shows like Have Gun Will Travel, Alfred Hitchcock Presents or The Twilight Zone.  I know that I saw him in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World before I ever saw The Great Race, but it was his role as Maximillian Meen that made the first big impact and brought him to my attention.  I would have been all of seven years old.

My next big memory of Peter Falk is in his role of Columbo.  He first appeared as Columbo in the tv movie Prescription Murder [1968].  Then from 1971 to 2003, Mr. Falk reprised the role in 68 more tv movies.  Peter Falk was perfect in the role and fans loved him.  I can remember watching the movies with mom or my grandfather.  They enjoyed the series as much as me… maybe more.

In 1979, my girlfriend [later to be my wife] and I went to movies every week.  One of the films we decided to see was The In-Laws.  I thought it would be okay.  I was wrong.  The In-Laws turned out to be a comedy classic.  We left the theater talking about how great it was and laughing about it long after the film was over.

Peter Falk appears in another of my favorite films, The Princess Bride which we [my wife and I] watched with our sons when they were young.  It’s pretty cool that I was able to enjoy Mr. Falk’s movies with the significant people throughout my life.  I guess that’s the sign of a true star, he/she is able to continue to find good roles throughout their lives.  Mr. Falk was such a star.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.