*Actor Peter Falk, star of the popular TV series “Columbo,” died Thursday at age 83 in his Beverly Hills, Calif., home, according to a statement released Friday by family friend Larry Larson.
In a court document filed in December 2008, Falk’s daughter Catherine Falk said her father was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Falk earned two Oscar nominations in the early ’60s and won an Obie (an off-Broadway honor) for his performance in Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh.” But he is best remembered for the polite, raincoat-wearing, Peugeot-driving Los Angeles police detective who always wanted to know “just one more thing.”
That line — which usually meant that the seemingly absent-minded detective was about to outwit his perfect-crime-committing suspects — became so popular that Falk used it as the title of his memoir.
The series turned the standard mystery structure inside out. Instead of being revealed at the end, the criminal and the crime were shown in great detail in the show’s opening scenes. It was then up to Columbo to stumble onto the scene and figure out whodunit — something the audience already knew.
The series had a storied run, winning seven Emmys — including four for Falk. Steven Spielberg, then unknown, directed the first episode, and stars included Robert Culp, Ray Milland, Robert Vaughn and Cassavetes.
On the big screen, Falk’s roles included parts in Cassavetes’ gritty, verite films, such as “A Woman Under the Influence” (1974), as well as broad comedies, most notably “The In-Laws” (1979). In the latter, he played a CIA agent who drags a new friend, a dentist played by Alan Arkin, into a plot that involves currency printing plates and a coup in an unnamed Latin American country.
Falk is survived by his wife of 34 years, Shera; and two daughters, Catherine and Jackie, whom he adopted during his first marriage, to Alyce Mayo.