Peter Falk, the oscar nominated/ emmy award winning actor known to millions as the scruffy, raincoat wearing cigar smoking detective has sadly died at the age of 83. The actor died last night at his home in Beverly Hills, California. The exact cause of the actors death has not been released just yet but its believed the actor has been fighting Alzheimer’s disease for many years.
Though I’m too young to have seen the television show the first time around mostly Sunday Afternoon’s with the occasional Saturday if the afternoon television programmes weren’t filled with constant repeats of James Bond’s old movies it was always episodes of Colombo especially the tv movie versions. It didn’t matter what else Peter Falk tried he would always be remember for Colombo a character who would bombard potential suspects with pointless questions, but his absent- mindedness always prevailed in the end capturing those cunning sometimes cleverest of criminals. After endless attempts to revive his cinematic career he never really gained the success he got playing the shabby detective and always ended up back on the small screen
Falk was born on September 16th, 1927 in New York City and his child years health wise were n’t fair and when he was three he underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumor which resulted in him loosing his right eye and he was given a glass eye which actually became one of his trait marks through his career. Despite the limited eyesight at school Peter Falk became one of the best athletic sprinters and he used to tell a story when he played Baseball at third base he used to take his eye out giving it to the umpire!
After been rejected from the armed forces because of his eyesight he tried once again to enlist but only accepted in the merchant marines which he ended up a cook before returning to education earning a degree in political sciences then gaing a masters in public administration at syracuse University. Whilst working in Hartford Connecticut as a efficiency expert in the early 1950’s it was here Falk would take the first steps to his acting career joining joining an amateur troupe called the Mark Twain Maskers taking classes with acclaimed actress Eva Le Gallienne and now 29 he now decided acting was his career choice moving back to New York.
His career started first on stage as in 1956 in Don Juan but it was a year later as a bartender in The Iceman Cometh alongside Jason Robards. The same year small roles in television shows came along for the actor gaining praise everywhere but it was Murder Inc in 1960 was the breakthrough moment also gaining him a oscar nod did his next movie Pocketful of Miracles. Throughout the 1960’s Peter Falk would play a number of roles both on television and film including The Dick Powell Show and its ironic that a number of those television shows he starred in as detectives and in 1968 tv movie Prescription Murder he would get his first chance to wear the scruffy raincoat when he played Lieutenant Columbo for the first time. It wasn’t until 1971 before Colombo got his own series with the first episode been directed by a young upcoming director called Stephen Spielberg, a series which spanned for many years in 90 or 120 minute formats.
Peter Falk’s last appearance as an actor was in the indie comedy American Cowslip in 2009, a year after his daughter Catherine Falk petitioned to be her father’s guardian.Our thoughts go out to Danese, his second wife, and two daughters, Jackie and Catherine.