The Associated Press is reporting that Peter Falk, TV’s “Columbo”, died last night according to friend of the Falk family. Falk, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, died Thursday night.
“Columbo” began its history in 1971 as part of the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie series, appearing every third week. The show became by far the most popular of the three mysteries, the others being “McCloud” and “McMillan and Wife.”
Falk was reportedly paid $250,000 a movie and could have made much more if he had accepted an offer to convert “Columbo” into a weekly series. He declined, reasoning that carrying a weekly detective series would be too great a burden.
Columbo 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. Underneath his dishevelment, a good mind is at work.”
NBC canceled the three series in 1977. In 1989 ABC offered “Columbo” in a two-hour format usually appearing once or twice a season. The movies continued into the 21st century. “Columbo” appeared in 26 foreign countries and was a particular favorite in France and Iran.
Columbo’s trademark was an ancient raincoat Falk had once bought for himself. After 25 years on television, the coat became so tattered it had to be replaced.