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Peter Falk (Columbo star) dead at 83

posted 6/24/2011 5:00:56 PM |
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Legendary television actor Peter Falk, who was best known for his role as a squinty, rumpled detective in the hit series “Columbo,” has died at the age of 83.

Falk died Thursday night at his Beverly Hills home, according to a statement released by family friend Larry Larson.

A cause of death has not been released.

In 2008, his daughter Catherine Falk, said he had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Falk won four Emmys for his starring role in “Columbo,” a show on which he appeared in 69 episodes.

“Columbo” began its history in 1971 as part of the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie series, appearing every third week. “Columbo” became by far the most popular of the three mysteries, the others being “McCloud” and “McMillan and Wife.”

Columbo — he never had a first name — presented a contrast to other TV detectives. “He looks like a flood victim,” Falk once said. “You feel sorry for him. He appears to be seeing nothing, but he’s seeing everything.”
He also received Academy Award nominations for 1960’s “Murder Inc.” and 1961’s “Pocketful of Miracles.”

Falk was born Sept. 16, 1927, in New York City and grew up in Ossining, N.Y., where his parents ran a clothing store. At 3, he had one eye removed because of cancer. “When something like that happens early,” he said in a 1963 Associated Press interview, “you learn to live with it. It became the joke of the neighborhood. If the umpire ruled me out on a bad call, I’d take the fake eye out and hand it to him.”

When Falk was starting as an actor in New York, an agent told him, “Of course, you won’t be able to work in movies or TV because of your eye.”
After serving as a cook in the merchant marine and receiving a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University, he worked as an efficiency expert for the budget bureau of the state of Connecticut. He also acted in amateur theater and was encouraged to become a professional by actress-teacher Eva La Gallienne.
An appearance in “The Iceman Cometh” off-Broadway led to other classical parts, notably as Joseph Stalin in “The Passion of Joseph D.” In 1971 Falk scored a hit in Neil Simon’s “The Prisoner of Second Avenue.”
Falk made his film debut in 1958 with “Wind Across the Everglades” and established himself as a talented character actor with his performance as the vicious killer Abe Reles in “Murder, Inc.” Among his other movies: “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “Robin and the Seven Hoods,” “The Great Race,” “Luv,” “Castle Keep,” “The Cheap Detective,” “The Brinks Job,” “The In-Laws,” “The Princess Bride.”
Falk also appeared in a number of art house favorites, including the semi-improvisational films “Husbands” and “A Woman Under the Influence,” directed by his friend John Cassavetes, and Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire,” in which he played himself. Falk became prominent in television movies, beginning with his first Emmy for “The Price of Tomatoes” in 1961. His four other Emmys were for “Columbo.”
He was married to pianist Alyce Mayo in 1960; they had two daughters, Jackie and Catherine, and divorced in 1976. The following year he married actress Shera Danese. They filed for divorce twice and reconciled each time.
When not working, Falk spent time in the garage of his Beverly Hills home. He had converted it into a studio where he created charcoal drawings. He took up art in New York when he was in the Simon play and one day happened into the Art Students League.
He recalled: “I opened a door and there she was, a nude model, shoulders back, a light from above, buck-ass naked. The female body is awesome. Believe me, I signed up right away.”
In 2009, the actor was placed in a conservatorship to ensure that Catherine would be able to visit the ailing star. His second wife of more than 30 years, Shera, maintained control of his personal care and affairs, but a judge granted Catherine 30-minute visits with the star every other month.
According to testimony, there were tensions between Catherine and her father. While attending Syracuse University, she sued him to force him to pay her tuition and expenses. She later said they reconciled.

At the conservatorship trial, Falk’s physician said he slipped into dementia after a series of dental operations in 2007. Dr. Stephen Read testified that it was unclear whether his condition worsened as a result of anesthesia

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Jun 24 @ 5:17PM  
R.I.P. Columbo

Jun 24 @ 5:35PM  
Thanks for sharing, what a drag I enjoyed the man in every role he played. RIP. Though obscure to many beyond his TV role in Columbo, He could play comedy.I loved his characters in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World and The Great Race. His comedy and versatility shined.

He also could play a heavy and did in the fifties in noir crime films. Here is a scene showing he was Joe Pesci before Joe Pesci, the ultimate sociopath.

Jun 24 @ 5:42PM  
I enjoyed watching his Columbo series! His 'frumpy' clothes and his demeanor, was just his way of throwing off his suspects, letting them think they were outsmarting him, tripping them up! Great program!

R.I.P. Peter Falk.


Jun 24 @ 5:49PM  
He died from complications from alsheimers

Jun 24 @ 7:25PM  
That sucks! I used to like Columbo.

RIP Peter (Columbo) Faulk.

Jun 24 @ 10:02PM  
i bought a green trench coat in 1970 when we moved from tarzana to woodland hills..the above photo of snidegrass is in a green trench coat, as i was about
1970...for many reasons of a very classified nature, i cannot reveal what i look
like at the present..but all things and intangibles are always 'subject to change'..
it assuredly is a 'mad mad mad world'...consider the california gold rush period..LOLOLOL..and the present gold fever madness....price of gold in 1967, 35 dollars an ounce, presently hovering around 1550 dollars an ounce..could it at
all be possible that inflation and ridiculous prices are connected with gold
prices??? a study was done on a correlation between destitution and crime..
dr. kadfish kadabbaman phd phd phd md md md found no correlation after a 79 year long triple bind to the 100th power study, actually creating destitution
in order to study it better...a conspiracy charge was leveled by the los angeles
police dept. and other agencies for this 'behavior' but parry mazon defended
him, he was exonerated of all charges...the charge was conspiracy to create
destitution...teaching destitution is better than wealth...the poorest of the poorest
is better to be than the richest of the fact dr. kadfish kadabbaman
still holds that the object of life should be to lose as much as possible as
quickly as you can...the only drawback to his theory is that to lose so much
you must have something to lose..and he who loses most wins..but in order
to do that you have to have the most to lose so you can win and lose the most..
the pictures above are quite a sensational really..females
do transmit their sensations they feel to the men who give them those
sensations. a trick i learned in 1969 at the university of california at santa

Jun 24 @ 11:10PM  
May he RIP!!!!! I enjoyed .....all that he did!
We have a New... Oldie TV Channel..(Local TV) I hope they include "Columbo"

Jun 25 @ 3:06PM  
This is a pretty good pictorial homage to him and his career.

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Peter Falk (Columbo star) dead at 83