Actor, Peter Falk, who had been suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, died peacefully at his Beverly Hills, California home on the evening of June 23, 2011. He was 83 years old.

Falk is best known for his role as Lieutenant Columbo in the television series Columbo and has appeared in many films and numerous  television guest roles over his fifty year career. He was nominated for an Academy Award twice. Once for the film, Murder, Inc. (1960), and another time for Pocketful of Miracles (1961). Falk won the Emmy Award on five separate occasions, four of which were for his role on Columbo.

Arguably, his most memorable performance and greatest role might have been in John Cassavete’s A Woman Under the Influence (1974). In this film, Falk plays the husband of a woman (played by Gena Rowlands) whose psychotic and mad behavior leads him to commit her to a psychiatric ward; tearing the family apart. An emotionally heavy film that is partially carried by Falk. Aside from Columbo, my peers are probably familiar with him as the grandfather and narrator or the light-hearted family adventure, The Princess Bride (1987). Peter Falk was a charismatic actor who always infused personality, idiosyncrasies, and a uniqueness to whatever role he was playing to make the characters more colorful and vital. He will be missed in the acting world.

The New York Times: Peter Falk, Rumpled and Crafty Actor on ‘Columbo,’ Dies at 83:

It was a low-rent affect that was especially irksome to the high-society murderers he outwitted in episode after episode. In the detective-story niche where Columbo lived, whodunit was hardly the point; the murder was committed and the murderer revealed in the show’s opening minutes. How-it-was-done was paramount. Typically, Columbo would string his suspects along, flattering them, apologizing profusely for continuing to trouble them with questions, appearing to have bought their alibis and, just before making an exit, nailing them with a final, damning query that he unfailingly introduced with the innocent-sounding phrase “Just one more thing….” It was the signal to viewers that the jig was up.

Los Angeles Times: Peter Falk dies at 83; actor found acclaim as ‘Columbo’:

For Falk, who had played his share of heavies over the years, “Columbo” was a welcome change of pace.

“I’d done too many shows where I’d walk into a hospital room where a man was in bed and I’d go over and turn off the oxygen,” he told TV Guide in 1972. “I’ve shot, knifed and beat people in too many bloody scenes. There’s no fun in doing that. I like to do something optimistic, where the people try to live, not die.”

During his long run as Columbo, Falk received a lot of fan mail from police officers.

“You get cops saying, ‘I use the Columbo technique,'” he told The Times in 1990. “Or you go somewhere and a cop will come up and say, ‘We have got a Columbo on the force who we call Columbo, and on his birthday we bought him a raincoat.’ They send me pictures of cops dressed as Columbo. So they get a kick out of it.”

 


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