R.I.P. Peter Falk (1927-2011)

by Kevin Jagernauth
June 24, 2011 6:45 AM
9 Comments
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"Just one more thing...."

Sad news today as Peter Falk, best know for his role Lieutenant Columbo in the long running series "Columbo," passed away today at the age of 83.

While most audiences recognize him as the rumpled trenchcoat wearing, cigar smoking crime solver, film fans will mourn the passing of an actor who worked in a wide variety of genres, alongside some of the biggest and most influential names in film history. However, it was pretty much a miracle that Falk made it in front of cameras at all. At the age of three, the actor's right eye was removed and replaced with a glass eye due to a malignant tumor, but he scrabbled his way on to the theater stage but getting into movies was much more difficult affair. Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures, was reported to said to Falk after a screen test, "for the same price I can get an actor with two eyes." However, when Falk got his chance, he made the most of it. Cast as Abe Reles in otherwise standard gangster pic "Murder, Inc." he broke out in the villainous role earning praise from critics as well as an Oscar nomination and it soon led him work with another acclaimed filmmaker: Frank Capra.

Cast as Joy Boy in "Pocketful Of Miracles," the last feature ever directed by Capra, Falk once again rose above a sub-standard film and notched another Oscar nomination for his efforts. During the '60s, Falk was also dabbling in television, taking a role on the quickly canceled "The Trials of O'Brien" before landing what would become his trademark part in "Columbo." But a friendship with another emerging talent found Falk making waves once again.

As a member of his regular ensemble, John Cassavetes cast Falk in a number of his films, most notably in the excellent and groundbreaking "A Woman Under The Influence" and of course, in "Husbands" as well. The actor would also cameo in "Opening Night" and team with Cassavetes on his forgettable "Big Trouble" in 1986. And later in his career, a new crop of filmmakers utilized Falk's charms as well, as he made turns in Rob Reiner's "The Princess Bride," Jon Favreau's "Made" but perhaps most memorable as all, was his appearance in Wim Wenders' beautiful "Wings Of Desire."

The term "everyman" is tossed around a lot, but no one embodied it more than Falk, an actor and person who charms touched audiences both young and old, in every facet of his career. He will be missed. [KTLA]


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9 Comments

  • jonathan | June 24, 2011 8:57 AMReply

    Good to know there's someone else out there that confuses Murder By Death with Clue. I mean they share an actress and pretty much deal with the same story. But if I recall correctly, Murder By Death is far superior.

  • Jp | June 24, 2011 8:06 AMReply

    Serpentine Shell!! Serpentine!!

  • JT | June 24, 2011 8:01 AMReply

    The In-Laws is still one of the funniest comic performances I've ever seen. And he and Arkin are so good together.

    - "They have tsetse flies down there the size of eagles."

    - "Serpentine Shelly. Serpentine!

    I must've repeated those two lines a hundred times.

  • Fred | June 24, 2011 7:51 AMReply

    After showing Murder By Death and The Cheap Detective this past weekend and marveling again at the man's comic timing, the discussion turned to his brilliance in A Woman Under The Influence, which matched that of his titular co-star who got all the awards attention. All this and much more, over and above his iconic Columbo memory and the impression that he'd just be fun as hell to get drunk with....Rest well, Mr. Falk.

  • Mr Anonymous | June 24, 2011 7:29 AMReply

    Absolute legend! RIP.

    Love Peter Falk. Love Columbo. Untouchable. A Made Man.

  • Kevin Klawitter | June 24, 2011 7:07 AMReply

    Don't forget the pilot to "Columbo" was directed by a young up-and-comer named Steven Spielberg. Falk himself told the show's producers that Spielberg was too good for TV.

  • Aaron G | June 24, 2011 7:06 AMReply

    Don't forget his fantastic performance opposite Cassavetes in Elaine May's Mikey and Nicky.

    Fucking bummer.

  • padre | June 24, 2011 7:04 AMReply

    I never saw him in his most famous role. I remember him more for "Murder by Death", which I loved, even though I always get that title confused with "Clue". I loved Falk poking fun as Sam Diamond.

  • Fred Savage | June 24, 2011 7:01 AMReply

    You mean he died? Jesus, Grandpa, what'd you post this for?

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