News: Legendary ‘Columbo’ Actor Peter Falk Passes Away at 83

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CHICAGO – He will surely be most-remembered for the trenchcoat-wearing eccentric detective “Columbo” but Peter Falk was a successful and underrated actor outside of the role that defined him. The great Falk passed away today at the age of 83 and the worlds of film and television will miss him greatly.

Born in New York City in 1927, Peter Falk made his first stage appearance at the age of 12. His glass eye (his was removed at the age of three due to a tumor) kept him out of World War II, but he wanted to serve and joined the Marines as a cook. After serving, he would work various jobs but found his love when he made his Broadway debut in 1956. 16 years later, he would win a Tony for his work on Broadway’s “The Prisoner of Second Avenue.”

Peter Falk
Peter Falk
Photo credit: Getty Images

Of course, image-conscious Hollywood was hard for Peter Falk and he faced rejection before getting small roles in the late ’50s. His career turned after a performance in “Murder, Inc.” (1960) earned him critical praise and his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He would follow that a year later with another for Frank Capra’s “Pocketful of Miracles.” The ’60s saw Falk’s star rise with roles in hits like “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963), “Robin and the 7 Hoods” (1964), and “The Great Race” (1965).

Everything would change for Peter Falk when “Columbo” debuted in 1971 (although the character first debuted in a TV movie called “Prescription: Murder” a few years earlier). “Columbo” aired regularly on ABC until 1978 and returned in several forms over the next few decades, most often as stand-alone TV movies.

Being friends with the legendary John Cassavetes brought Peter Falk to an arthouse audience with films like “Husbands” (1970) and “A Woman Under the Influence” (1974). Other career highlights include “Murder by Death” (1976), “The In-Laws” (1979), “The Princess Bride” (1987), “Wings of Desire” (1987) and “Made” (2001).

According to reports, Peter Falk recently suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease and there had been a legal tug-of-war over his estate. We send our condolences to his friends and family. content director Brian Tallerico

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