Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Columbo" (Peter Falk)

An icon from my childhood (the Seventies) died this week.  I have a funny story to tell you about him.

Peter Falk was an actor who hit it big with a terrific TV cop-show called "Columbo."  He played a detective who was disarming and willy.  His character, named Columbo (no first name), investigated crimes and always found ways to implicate sleazy culprits by tricking them into revealing damning evidence.  Columbo appeared disheveled and clueless, but that was a calculated act: he closely observed everything and got people to let their guard down when they mistakenly thought he was a fool.  The show was a bit hit on TV from 1971 to 1977.

When Falk was a child, he lost an eye due to cancer.  Later, he was told by Hollywood agents and producers that he'd never work on television or film because of that.  He proved them wrong and was beloved by many viewers.  His handicap never stopped him from pursuing and achieving his dream.

Falk spent a year at the college I attended (Hamilton College).  While there, he played baseball.  During one game, he slid into second base and was called out by the umpire.  Furious, Falk popped out his glass eye, handed it to the umpire and said, "Here... you  need this more than I do."


  1. How fantastic...Thank you so much for sharing this information. It is an example to all of us.
    Have a great weekend.

  2. Aw, I heard about this. How sad to lose another great one. But, I loved the story, thanks!

  3. I didn't know about his eye! Well, I never knew much about him period. Columbo was never on when I watched a lot of television (I mean, obviously, being a youngin' and all...but I'm talking about reruns). It's too bad his health declined in his later years, but I suppose, at 83, he had a full (and successful!) life.

  4. I knew about the tv show, but not details. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I remember Columbo! I used to watch a bunch of detective shows with my family, and my aunt told me the story about his eyes. (Not the exact details, but that one eye was fake.) After she told me, I remember trying to figure out whether you could tell one eye was fake or not.

    Thanks for sharing! Very inspirational. I sometimes forget that people who have "made it" had roadblocks along the way too.

  6. I was sad to learn that he passed away. I was a big fan of Columbo. Nice post.

  7. Oh, that's so sad! That he died, I mean. The anecdote is actually quite funny.

  8. I was just listening to his interview with Terry Gross on NPR on my way to work this morning. Great interview.

    I love that baseball story.


  9. I somehow totally missed his death in the news. Sad. :(

    I'm obsessed with murder mystery shows from the late 70s to the 90s...Murder, She Wrote...Matlock (which, yes, I Tivo daily, haha)...Father Dowling...and, of course, Columbo (just to name a few). I don't know what it is about them, but I can't get enough! I watch a lot of Columbo on Netflix. I love his eccentricity. His whole "oh, just one more thing" became a running joke between my parents and me. And he's always talking about his wife, but I don't think they ever actually show her, right? Anyway, the show is absolutely brilliant, in my opinion! A quirky detective who outsmarts all the people who are annoyed by him is perfect. It's like how Matlock is so ornery (especially when waken up in the middle of the night, heehee) and Jessica Fletcher doesn't drive and has a way of making people feel stupid by saying something in the nicest way possible. lol

    Hubs always teases me when I watch these shows and says he would hate to be a friend of any of theirs because people around them drop like flies.

  10. Very inspiring story about his eye, by the way. And he also made the perfect grandpa in The Princess Bride. :)

  11. Absolutely loved Columbo. Me and my cousin were obsessed. I remember her saying to me when she was about 5: "Joey, I really want to be a detective like Columbo...but I don't want to have a glass eye..."