We all remember him as “Columbo”, but Peter Falk had a long and varied career on television and in movies. He started in television in the 1950s on shows such as “Robert Montgomery Presents” and “Kraft Theater”. In the 1960s he did comedic movies including Stanley Kramer’s “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” and “Robin And The 7 Hoods”. And in 1968 he created the role of “Columbo”, which he would return to over the next 35 years.
Falk did some of his most compelling work in partnership with his good friend John Cassavetes: “Husbands” in 1970, “A Woman Under The Influence” in 1974, and “Mikey And Nicky” in 1976 (directed by Elaine May).
In 1984 Falk appeared as the grandfather character who narrates “The Princess Bride”. Prior to that he appeared in the whodunnit send-ups “Murder By Death” (1976) and “The Cheap Detective” (1978). In 2009 Falk made his final appearance in the film “American Cowslip” with Diane Ladd, Bruce Dern, and Val Kilmer.
Equally at home in comedy and drama Falk never had those “dry” periods that actors often experience – he was always in demand as his IMDB entry shows. His gruff voice, everyman looks, glass eye, and ability to fit these attributes to almost any role kept him in demand. He lost the eye when he was three due to cancer.
Contrary to popular belief Falk was not of Italian ancestry: his father “was of Russian Jewish ancestry and his mother was of Polish Jewish, with a mix of Hungarian and Czech Jewish ancestry further back” according to IMDB.
Also contrary to popular belief his “Columbo” rain coat is not in the Smithsonian – he claimed it was in his “upstairs closet”. If you’d like a “Columbo” raincoat of your own you can get a brand new one from Freeman’s Sporting Club. And did you ever wonder why a detective in Los Angeles wore a raincoat, anyway?