Friday, May 17, 2013

Classic TV Blog Association: Columbo.

Columbo, is one of my husbands and mine favorite classic TV show that we never seem to get tired of watching. The series began as part of the "NBC Mystery Movie" rotation: McCloud, McMillan and Wife and Columbo(1971–2003). A detective/mystery television series, starring Peter Falk as Columbo, a homicide detective, who works with the Los Angeles Police Department. Columbo, has a very cleaver way of putting together clues and coming up with a way to trick the murder (who always thinks that he is smarter than Columbo) into confessing.

Some of my favorite episodes:

(The oldest bad guy/girl in the series at the age of 81)Ruth Gordon, who plays the mystery writer in "Try and Catch Me", who blames her nephew for the death of her niece. One night she invites her nephew up to the house to sign their wills and then leaves and return within a few minutes so she can lock him in a sound proof safe to die. Detective Columbo arrives and suspects the writer of murder...

Janet Leigh, plays the terminally ill actress in "Forgotten Lady". A story about Grace Wheeler Willis, who was a very famous star. Every night in her house she watches one of her old movies from her past. When she decides to work on a new show, her husband refuses to finance it, Grace kills him by staging a suicide. Even though Lt. Columbo, likes her, he is not deceived by her lies...

Donald Pleasence, plays a vintner in "Any Old Port in a Storm". A story about Adrian Carsini is a wine connoisseur who owns a winery on the California coast. When Adrian's playboy brother, who also owns a portion of the winery, threatens to sell it, Adrian kills him, then places his brother's body in storage in his wine vault while he travels to New York to attend a conference. After his return he makes it look like his brother's death look like an accident. Columbo suspects Carsini  and befriends him while gathering clues to link Carsini to the killing.

"Murder, Smoke and Shadows". This time Columbo pits his wits against a movie director who murders an old friend on a set, because this friend is in possession of a damaging piece of film, on which the actress died and isn't helped by the movie director.

The character of Columbo was created by William Link, who said that Columbo was inspired by Crime and Punishment character Porfiry Petrovich, as well as G. K. Chesterton's cleric-detective Father Brown.

Director Richard Irving convinced Levinson and Link that Falk, could pull it off even though he was much younger than the writers had in mind. Originally a TV-Movie-of-the-Week, 1968's "Prescription: Murder" has Columbo gathering clues which point a finger at psychiatrist (Gene Barry).

A story about Doctor Ray Flemming, who decides to murder his wealthy wife with his mistress' Joan's help, making a perfect alibi. Columbo, is in charge of the investigation and he is almost sure that Doctor Flemming is guilty.... with a surprise twist at the end.

The film was a success and NBC requested that a pilot for a series to be made, leading to the 1971 hour and a half film, Ransom For a Dead Man, with Lee Grant playing the killer.

A story about Leslie Williams, a brilliant attorney, who's husband, is a member of the state supreme court. She tries to gain her freedom by murdering him and to make it look as if he's been kidnapped and held for ransom. After she pays the ransom to herself, his dead body is found. She may have fooled the FBI, but.. not Lt. Columbo...

The popularity of the second film prompted the regular series on NBC, that premiered in the fall of 1971 as part of the NBC Mystery Movie series. Falk won an Emmy Award for his role in the show's first season.

The show eventually became the anchor of NBC's Sunday night line up. After its cancellation by NBC in 1978 Columbo was revived on ABC between 1989 and 2003 in several new seasons and a few made-for-TV movie "specials".

Fun Facts about Columbo :

Columbo's wardrobe was Peter Falk's own clothes, including the shabby raincoat which made its first appearance in "Prescription: Murder".

Columbo's was a fan of Joe DiMaggio.

Columbo likes gangster film.

Columbo does not carry a gun.

Columbo loves to cook.

Columbo speaks fluent Italian.

As his homicide investigations are almost always among the rich and famous, he loves to join the suspect's social circle.

Columbo's trademark is his(but not always lit) cigar.

Columbo is prone to airsickness and seasickness and he cannot swim.

He is afraid of heights.

In almost every episode of the later ABC series, Columbo is heard whistling the children's song "This Old Man".

Columbo loves classical music and has a high level of knowledge about it.

"Étude In Black" (1972) was the first appearance of the lieutenant's Basset Hound, named "Dog". "Dog" came to be a regular character in the films.

While on duty, Columbo drives a 1959 Peugeot 403 convertible equipped with a police radio. In the earlier series, the car was faded and sun-damaged royal blue. In the later series the car is a "primer"-color. Peter Falk selected the car, after seeing it in a parking lot at Universal Studios.

A few years before to his death, Peter Falk wanted to return to the role, announcing in 2007 that he had chosen a script for one last Columbo episode, Columbo: Hear No Evil. The script was renamed Columbo's Last Case. ABC declined the project.

Falk was diagnosed with dementia in late 2007. During a 2009 court trial over Falk's care, Dr Stephen Read stated that the actor's condition had deteriorated so badly that Falk could no longer remember playing a character named Columbo, nor could he identify who Columbo was. Falk died on June 23, 2011, aged 83.

Columbo received numerous awards and nominations from 1971 to 2005, including 13 Emmys, two Golden Globes, two Edgar Awards and a TV Land Award nomination in 2005.

Basset Hound, named "Dog".


  1. Growing up, I loved Columbo (though McMillen and Wife was always my fave of the "mystery movie" rotation, simply because I adored Rock...still do). I must admit, though, re-watching Columbo now as an adult, I didn't care as much for it. I found Columbo's "Just one more thing" to be annoying and overused.

    Peter Falk was perfect in the role. How sad that in his final years, he had no memory of Columbo.

    1. LOL... I think Columbo's "Just one more thing", was supposed to be annoying. That is when you knew he had the bad guy..

  2. You might enjoy, as we do in our family, a book from 2010 called "The Columbo Collection" featuring short stories by William Link.

    My favourite episode is "A Friend in Deed" guest starring Richard Kiley. Of course, I can't think of one episode that I don't enjoy.

  3. "A Friend in Deed" is another good episode.. It reminds me of Hitchcock's "Strangers On The Train"..

    The book does sound something that we would enjoy reading..

  4. I just saw that Columbo's first name is Frank, which is reviled in the episode "Dead Weight".

  5. Hi NaCF,

    Long time reader, first time poster! Always wanted to say that! :)
    Thank you for posting about Columbo. A local tv station started rerunning his tv movies a couple of months ago - two every weekends - and I have become addicted to them! Never miss it!

    And I thought I was the only one still loving it!
    I would like to add to his serie of habits you have described so well...
    1 - the boiled egg he oftens carry with him at the beginning of the movie.
    2- And I especially like the way he scratches the back of his head before raising his hand up high over his head when he makes a killer point! ;)

    Thank you,

    Molly Brown
    from The Trade Corner for Ginger Rogers

  6. Molly Brown, Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. :)

    I will add your fun facts to the list Columbo of habits.. How could I have missed them? :)

  7. Thank you!
    Keep up the good work, Dawn Sample!

    Molly B.


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