Most folks remember Peter Falk as Columbo, the street smart detective in the rumpled trenchcoat. However, before his starring role on the revolving NBC Mystery Movie series, the diminuitive actor had a prolific screen career as a talented supporting player.
Falk was twice nominated for an Oscar for his performances in Murder, Inc. and Frank Capra’s last production of A Pocketful of Miracles. He was also cast in It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Robin and the Seven Hoods, The Great Race, Murder by Death, A Woman Under the Influence, and The Princess Bride.
He also had guest spots in Decoy (starring Beverly Garland), Have Gun Will Travel, The Twilight Zone, The Untouchables, Wagon Train, and Ben Casey. He eventually won an Emmy in 1962 for his work in The Price of Tomatoes, a Dick Powell television drama.
By all accounts, Falk was a joy to work with. Capra thought he was the one good thing to come out of his swan song-production. Johnny Cash was quite candid about how the star of Columbo took time to coach the singer-turned-actor. And, Falk guided the producer of the first Grammy Awards show in 1971 by offering valued advice.
Ah…One more thing… The detective, Columbo, has a rich history. His character was based on the writings by Dostoyesky in his novel, Crime and Punishment. The part was created on Broadway, and played by Thomas Mitchell. After Bing Crosby turned down the television role, Falk decided to accept it, bringing a trenchcoat from his own closet. Four more Emmy awards followed. And, one of the earliest directors to work on the eventual series… Steven Spielberg.
Peter Falk was 83.
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