Actor Peter Falk, best known for playing Lieutenant Columbo, has died aged 83.

Peter Falk began his career on stage in the 1950s, and despite his success in the theatre, he was told by an agent not to expect to succeed on screen because of his glass eye; his right eye was removed when he was three years old because of a malignant tumour.

Falk’s Oscar nominated performance in Murder, Inc (1960) was the turning point in his career, but although his amusingly vicious performance became his breakout role – and he was Oscar nominated again the following year for Pocketful of Miracles – most of his acting career was spent appearing on the small screen.

Falk appeared in TV shows throughout the 1950s and 1960s, but he is best known for his role as the slightly rumpled detective, Columbo. The show originally ran from 1971 – 1978, then returned as a series of sporadic made for TV movies from 1989 to 2003. Instead of the audience being left to wonder ‘whodunit’, in Columbo, the question was actually ‘how is he going to get him’? Falk made the character sophisticated, funny and clever, which helped to make Columbo so beloved. Peter Falk won 5 Emmy awards for his performances as Columbo.

In his later career, Peter Falk appeared in The Princess Bride, Next and provided a voice in the animated film Shark Tale. Falk’s last film performance was in the 2009 film American Cowslip which also starred Val Kilmer and Rip Torn.
After a series of dental operations in 2007, Falk rapidly slipped into dementia and his wife, Shera Danese Falk was appointed conservator of his estate. Falk was also suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and sadly could no longer remember Columbo, the character he was most famous for.

Falk died yesterday at his home in Beverly Hills, his family declined to discuss the cause of his death.

This DVD trailer showcases some of Columbo’s finest moments and one liners:

 

Words – Brogen Hayes