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

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist June 24, 2011 at 6:45AM

"Just one more thing...."
9


"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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This article is related to: Vintage Actors, Peter Falk


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