Falk as Lt. Columbo in 1973
Peter Michael Falk
September 16, 1927
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||June 23, 2011 83) (aged|
|Education||Ossining High School|
|Alma mater|| Hamilton College |
New School for Social Research (B.A., literature and political science, 1951)
Syracuse University, Maxwell School (Master of Public Administration, 1953)
|Height||5 ft 6 in (168 cm)|
|Spouse(s)||Alyce Mayo (1960–76; 2 daughters)|
Shera Danese (1977–2011; his death)
Peter Michael Falk (September 16, 1927 – June 23, 2011) was an American actor, known for his role as Lieutenant Columbo in the long-running television series Columbo (1968–2003), for which he won four Primetime Emmy Awards (1972, 1975, 1976, 1990) and a Golden Globe Award (1973). He first starred as Columbo in two 90-minute TV pilots; the first with Gene Barry in 1968 and the second with Lee Grant in 1971. The show then aired as part of The NBC Mystery Movie series from 1971 to 1978, and again on ABC from 1989 to 2003.
Columbo or Lieutenant Columbo is the eponymous main character in the successful detective crime drama series Columbo. The character is a shrewd but inelegant blue-collar homicide detective whose trademarks include his shambling manner, rumpled beige raincoat and off-putting, relentless investigative approach.
A television pilot is a standalone episode of a television series that is used to sell the show to a television network. At the time of its creation, the pilot is meant to be the testing ground to gauge whether a series will be successful; it is therefore a test episode for the intended television series, an early step in the series development, much like pilot studies serve as precursors to the start of larger activity. In the case of a successful television series, the pilot is commonly the very first episode that is aired of the particular series under its own name; the episode that gets the series "off the ground". A "backdoor pilot" is an episode of an existing successful series, featuring future tie-in characters of an up-and-coming television series or film. Its purpose is to introduce the characters to an audience before the creators decide on whether or not they intend to pursue a spin-off series with those characters.
Gene Barry was an American stage, screen, and television actor. Barry is best remembered for his leading roles in the films The Atomic City (1952) and The War of The Worlds (1953) and for his portrayal of the title characters in the TV series Bat Masterson and Burke's Law, among many roles.
Falk was twice nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for Murder, Inc. (1960) and Pocketful of Miracles (1961), and won his first Emmy Award in 1962 for The Dick Powell Theatre . He was the first actor to be nominated for an Academy Award and an Emmy Award in the same year, achieving the feat twice (1961/62). He went on to appear in such films as It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), The Great Race (1965), Anzio (1968), A Woman Under the Influence (1974), Murder by Death (1976), Mikey and Nicky (1976), The Cheap Detective (1978), The Princess Bride (1987), Wings of Desire (1987), The Player (1992), and Next (2007), as well as many television guest roles.
The Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is given in honor of an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance in a supporting role while working within the film industry. The award was traditionally presented by the previous year's Best Supporting Actress winner.
Murder, Inc. is a 1960 American gangster film starring Stuart Whitman, May Britt, Henry Morgan, Peter Falk, and Simon Oakland. The Cinemascope movie was directed by Burt Balaban and Stuart Rosenberg. The screenplay was based on the true story of Murder, Inc., a Brooklyn gang that operated in the 1930s.
Pocketful of Miracles is a 1961 American Technicolor comedy film starring Bette Davis and Glenn Ford, and directed by Frank Capra, filmed in Panavision. The screenplay by Hal Kanter and Harry Tugend is based on the screenplay of the 1933 film Lady for a Day by Robert Riskin, which was adapted from the Damon Runyon short story "Madame La Gimp". That original 1933 film was also directed by Capra, one of two films that he originally directed and later remade, the other being Broadway Bill (1934), and its remake Riding High (1950)
Director William Friedkin said of Falk's role in his film The Brink's Job (1978): "Peter has a great range from comedy to drama. He could break your heart or he could make you laugh."In 1996, TV Guide ranked Falk No. 21 on its 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time list. He received posthumously a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013.
William Friedkin is an American film and television director, producer and screenwriter closely identified with the "New Hollywood" movement of the 1970s. Beginning his career in documentaries in the early 1960s, he is perhaps best known for directing The French Connection (1971) and The Exorcist (1973), the former of which won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director. Some of his other films include the pioneering queer drama The Boys in the Band (1970), the international suspense thriller Sorcerer (1977), the highly controversial 1980 crime film Cruising (1980), the action thriller To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), the psychological horror film Bug (2006), and the dark comedy Killer Joe (2011).
The Brink's Job is a 1978 film directed by William Friedkin and starring Peter Falk, Peter Boyle, Allen Garfield, Warren Oates, Gena Rowlands, and Paul Sorvino. It is based on the Brink's robbery of 1950 in Boston, where almost 3 million dollars was stolen.
TV Guide is a bi-weekly American magazine that provides television program listings information as well as television-related news, celebrity interviews and gossip, film reviews, crossword puzzles, and, in some issues, horoscopes. The print magazine is owned by NTVB Media, while its digital properties are controlled by the CBS Interactive division of CBS Corporation; the TV Guide name and associated editorial content from the publication are licensed by CBS Interactive for use on the website and mobile app through an agreement with the magazine's parent subsidiary TVGM Holdings, Inc.
Born in New York City, Falk was the son of Michael Peter Falk (1898-1981), owner of a clothing and dry goods store, and his wife, Madeline (née Hochhauser; 1904–2001),an accountant and buyer. Both of his parents were Jewish, coming from Poland and Russia on his father's side, and from Hungary and Łabowa, Nowy Sącz County, Poland, on his mother's side. Falk grew up in Ossining, New York.
The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.
Dry goods is a historic term describing the type of product line a store carries, which differs by region. The term comes from the textile trade, and the shops appear to have spread with the mercantile trade across the British colonial territories as a means of bringing supplies and manufactured goods to far-flung settlements and homesteads that were spreading globally. Starting in the mid-1700s, these stores began by selling supplies and textile goods to remote communities, and many customized the products they carried to the area's needs. This continued to be the trend well into the early 1900s. With the rise of department stores and catalog sales, the decline of dry goods stores began, and the term has largely fallen out of use.
A Purchasing Manager is an employee within a company, business or other organization who is responsible at some level for buying or approving the acquisition of goods and services needed by the company. Responsible for buying the best quality products, goods and services for their company at the most competitive prices, purchasing managers work in a wide range of sectors for many different organizations. The position responsibilities may be the same as that of a buyer or purchasing agent, or may include wider supervisory or managerial responsibilities. A Purchasing Manager may oversee the acquisition of materials needed for production, general supplies for offices and facilities, equipment, or construction contracts. A Purchasing Manager often supervises purchasing agents and buyers, but in small companies the Purchasing Manager may also be the purchasing agent or buyer. The Purchasing Manager position may also carry the title "Procurement Manager" or in the public sector, "Procurement Officer". He or she can come from both an Engineering or Economics background.
Falk's right eye was surgically removed when he was three because of a retinoblastoma; he wore an artificial eye for most of his life.The artificial eye was the cause of his trademark squint. Despite this limitation, as a boy he participated in team sports, mainly baseball and basketball. In a 1997 interview in Cigar Aficionado magazine with Arthur Marx, Falk said: "I remember once in high school the umpire called me out at third base when I was sure I was safe. I got so mad I took out my glass eye, handed it to him and said, 'Try this.' I got such a laugh you wouldn't believe."
Retinoblastoma (Rb) is a rare form of cancer that rapidly develops from the immature cells of a retina, the light-detecting tissue of the eye. It is the most common primary malignant intraocular cancer in children, and it is almost exclusively found in young children.
Cigar Aficionado is an American magazine that is dedicated to the world of cigars. Published since September 1992, the magazine is known for its articles about different brands of cigars worldwide, and for the celebrities that have appeared on its cover. It is also noted for its opposition to the Cuban embargo. The magazine was launched by Marvin R. Shanken's M. Shanken Communications, the publisher of Wine Spectator magazine since 1976. The current editor is David Savona.
Arthur Julius Marx was an American author, a nationally ranked amateur tennis player, and son of entertainer Groucho Marx, and his first wife, Ruth Johnson. He was named after Groucho's brother Arthur "Harpo" Marx.
Falk's first stage appearance was at the age of 12 in The Pirates of Penzance at Camp High Pointin upstate New York, where one of his camp counselors was Ross Martin (they would later act together in The Great Race and the Columbo episode "Suitable For Framing"). Falk attended Ossining High School in Westchester County, New York, where he was a star athlete and president of his senior class. After graduating from high school in 1945, Falk briefly attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, and then tried to join the armed services as World War II was drawing to a close. Rejected because of his missing eye, he joined the United States Merchant Marine, and served as a cook and mess boy. Falk said of the experience in 1997: "There they don't care if you're blind or not. The only one on a ship who has to see is the captain. And in the case of the Titanic , he couldn't see very well, either." Falk recalls this period in his autobiography: "A year on the water was enough for me, so I returned to college. I didn't stay long. Too itchy. What to do next? I signed up to go to Israel to fight in the war on its attack on Egypt; I wasn't passionate about Israel, I wasn't passionate about Egypt, I just wanted more excitement… I got assigned a ship and departure date but the war was over before the ship ever sailed."
The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. The opera's official premiere was at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in New York City on 31 December 1879, where the show was well received by both audiences and critics. Its London debut was on 3 April 1880, at the Opera Comique, where it ran for 363 performances, having already been playing successfully for more than three months in New York.
Camp High Point was an eight-week-long summer camp on Route 28A in West Shokan, New York. Located at the foot of Mt. High Point, on the shores of the Ashokan Reservoir, Camp High Point was a 150-acre (0.61 km2) coeducational camp. It consisted of two separate campuses and a central area for administration, dining, medical, and social facilities. It also featured a large natural mountain-fed swimming pool. The camp colors were green and white.
Ross Martin was an American radio, voice, stage, film and television actor. Martin was best known for portraying Artemus Gordon on the CBS Western series The Wild Wild West, which aired from 1965 to 1969. He was the voice of Doctor Paul Williams in 1972's Sealab 2020, additional characters in 1973's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, and additional character voices in 1978's Jana of the Jungle.
After a year and a half in the Merchant Marine, Falk returned to Hamilton College and also attended the University of Wisconsin. He transferred to the New School for Social Research in New York City, which awarded him a bachelor's degree in literature and political science in 1951. He then traveled in Europe and worked on a railroad in Yugoslavia for six months.He returned to New York, enrolling at Syracuse University, but he recalled in his 2006 memoir, Just One More Thing, that he was unsure what he wanted to do with his life for years after leaving high school.
Falk obtained a Master of Public Administration degree at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University in 1953. The program was designed to train civil servants for the federal government, a career that Falk said in his memoir he had "no interest in and no aptitude for".He applied for a job with the CIA, but was rejected because of his membership in the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union while serving in the Merchant Marine, even though he was required to join and was not active in the union (which had been under fire for communist leanings). He then became a management analyst with the Connecticut State Budget Bureau in Hartford. In 1997, Falk characterized his Hartford job as "efficiency expert": "I was such an efficiency expert that the first morning on the job, I couldn't find the building where I was to report for work. Naturally, I was late, which I always was in those days, but ironically it was my tendency never to be on time that got me started as a professional actor."
While working in Hartford, Falk joined a community theater group called the Mark Twain Masquers, where he performed in plays that included The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial , The Crucible , and The Country Girl by Clifford Odets. Falk also studied with Eva Le Gallienne, who was giving an acting class at the White Barn Theatre in Westport, Connecticut. Falk later recalled how he "lied his way" into the class, which was for professional actors. He drove down to Westport from Hartford every Wednesday, when the classes were held, and was usually late.In his 1997 interview with Arthur Marx in Cigar Aficionado Magazine, Falk said of Le Gallienne: "One evening when I arrived late, she looked at me and asked, 'Young man, why are you always late?' and I said, 'I have to drive down from Hartford.'" She looked down her nose and said, "What do you do in Hartford? There's no theater there. How do you make a living acting?" Falk confessed he wasn't a professional actor. According to him Le Gallienne looked at him sternly and said: "Well, you should be." He drove back to Hartford and quit his job. Falk stayed with the Le Gallienne group for a few months more, and obtained a letter of recommendation from Le Galliene to an agent at the William Morris Agency in New York. In 1956, he left his job with the Budget Bureau and moved to Greenwich Village to pursue an acting career.
Falk's first New York stage role was in an Off-Broadway production of Molière's Don Juan at the Fourth Street Theatre that closed after its only performance on January 3, 1956. Falk played the second lead, Sganarelle.His next theater role proved far better for his career. In May, he appeared at Circle in the Square in a revival of The Iceman Cometh with Jason Robards playing the bartender.
Later in 1956, Falk made his Broadway debut, appearing in Alexander Ostrovsky's Diary of a Scoundrel . As the year came to an end, he appeared again on Broadway as an English soldier in Shaw's Saint Joan with Siobhán McKenna.
In 1972, Falk appeared in Broadway's The Prisoner of Second Avenue . According to film historian Ephraim Katz: "His characters derive added authenticity from his squinty gaze, the result of the loss of an eye ...".
Despite his stage success, a theatrical agent advised Falk not to expect much film acting work because of his artificial eye.He failed a screen test at Columbia Pictures and was told by studio boss Harry Cohn: "For the same price I can get an actor with two eyes." He also failed to get a role in the film Marjorie Morningstar , despite a promising interview for the second lead. His first film performances were in small roles in Wind Across the Everglades (1958), The Bloody Brood (1959) and Pretty Boy Floyd (1960). Falk's performance in Murder, Inc. (1960) was a turning point in his career. He was cast in the supporting role of killer Abe Reles in a film based on the real-life murder gang of that name that terrorized New York in the 1930s. The New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther, while dismissing the movie as "an average gangster film", singled out Falk's "amusingly vicious performance". Crowther wrote:
Mr. Falk, moving as if weary, looking at people out of the corners of his eyes and talking as if he had borrowed Marlon Brando's chewing gum, seems a travesty of a killer, until the water suddenly freezes in his eyes and he whips an icepick from his pocket and starts punching holes in someone's ribs. Then viciousness pours out of him and you get a sense of a felon who is hopelessly cracked and corrupt.
The film turned out to be Falk's breakout role. In his autobiography, Just One More Thing (2006), Falk said his selection for the film from thousands of other Off-Broadway actors was a "miracle" that "made my career" and that without it, he would not have received the other significant movie roles that he later played.Falk, who played Reles again in the 1960 TV series The Witness, was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his performance in the film.
In 1961, multiple Academy Award-winning director Frank Capra cast Falk in the comedy Pocketful of Miracles . The film was Capra's last feature, and although it was not the commercial success he hoped it would be, he "gushed about Falk's performance".Falk was nominated for an Oscar for the role. In his autobiography, Capra wrote about Falk:
The entire production was agony ... except for Peter Falk. He was my joy, my anchor to reality. Introducing that remarkable talent to the techniques of comedy made me forget pains, tired blood, and maniacal hankerings to murder Glenn Ford (the film's star). Thank you Peter Falk." :480
For his part, Falk says he "never worked with a director who showed greater enjoyment of actors and the acting craft. There is nothing more important to an actor than to know that the one person who represents the audience to you, the director, is responding well to what you are trying to do." Falk once recalled how Capra reshot a scene even though he yelled "Cut and Print," indicating the scene was finalized. When Falk asked him why he wanted it reshot: "He laughed and said that he loved the scene so much he just wanted to see us do it again. How's that for support!"
For the remainder of the 1960s, Falk had mainly supporting movie roles and TV guest-starring appearances. Falk turned in a gem of a performance as one of two cabbies who falls victim to greed in the epic 1963 star-studded comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World , although he only appears in the last fifth of the movie. His other roles included the character of Guy Gisborne in the Rat Pack musical comedy Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964), in which he sings one of the film's numbers, and the spoof The Great Race (1965) with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis.
Falk first appeared on television in 1957, in the dramatic anthology programs that later became known as the "Golden Age of Television". In 1957, he appeared in one episode of Robert Montgomery Presents. He was also cast in Studio One, Kraft Television Theater, New York Confidential, Naked City, The Untouchables , Have Gun–Will Travel, The Islanders, and Decoy with Beverly Garland cast as the first female police officer in a series lead. On The Twilight Zone he portrayed a Castro-type revolutionary complete with beard who, intoxicated with power, kept seeing his would-be assassins in a newly acquired magic mirror. He starred in two of Alfred Hitchcock's television series, as a gangster terrified of death in a 1961 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and as a homicidal evangelist in 1962's The Alfred Hitchcock Hour .
In 1961, Falk was nominated for an Emmy Awardfor his performance in the episode "Cold Turkey" of James Whitmore's short-lived series The Law and Mr. Jones on ABC. On September 29, 1961, Falk and Walter Matthau guest-starred in the premiere episode, "The Million Dollar Dump", of ABC's crime drama Target: The Corruptors , with Stephen McNally and Robert Harland. He won an Emmy for The Price of Tomatoes, a drama carried in 1962 on The Dick Powell Show .
In 1963, Falk and Tommy Sands appeared as brothers who disagreed on the route for a railroad in "The Gus Morgan Story" on ABC's Wagon Train . Falk played the title role of "Gus", and Sands was his younger brother, Ethan Morgan. Ethan accidentally shoots wagonmaster Chris Hale, played by John McIntire, while the brothers are in the mountains looking at possible route options. Gus makes the decision to leave Hale behind- even choking him, believing he is dead. Ethan has been overcome with oxygen deprivation and needs Gus' assistance to reach safety down the mountain. Unknown to the Morgans, Hale crawls down the mountain through snow, determined to obtain revenge against Gus. In time, though, Hale comes to understand the difficult choice Morgan had to make, and the brothers reconcile their own differences. This episode is remembered for its examination of how far a man will persist amid adversity to preserve his own life and that of his brother.
Falk's first television series was in the title role of the drama The Trials of O'Brien , in which he played a lawyer. The show ran in 1965 and 1966 and was cancelled after 22 episodes. In 1966, he also co-starred in a television production of "Brigadoon" with Robert Goulet.
In 1971, Pierre Cossette produced the first Grammy Awards show on television with some help from Falk. Cossette writes in his autobiography, "What meant the most to me, though, is the fact that Peter Falk saved my ass. I love show business, and I love Peter Falk."
Although Falk appeared in numerous other television roles in the 1960s and 1970s, he is best known as the star of the TV series Columbo , "everyone's favorite rumpled television detective".His character was a shabby and ostensibly absent-minded police detective lieutenant driving a Peugeot 403, who had first appeared in the 1968 film Prescription: Murder. Rather than a whodunit, the show typically revealed the murderer from the beginning, then showed how the Los Angeles police detective Columbo went about solving the crime. Falk would describe his role to Fantle:
Columbo has a genuine mistiness about him. It seems to hang in the air… [and] he's capable of being distracted… Columbo is an ass-backwards Sherlock Holmes. Holmes had a long neck, Columbo has no neck; Holmes smoked a pipe, Columbo chews up six cigars a day.
Television critic Ben Falk (no relation) added that Falk "created an iconic cop… who always got his man (or woman) after a tortuous cat-and-mouse investigation". He also noted the idea for the character was "apparently inspired by Dostoyevsky's dogged police inspector, Porfiry Petrovich, in the novel Crime and Punishment .
Falk tries to analyze the character and notes the correlation between his own personality and Columbo's:
I'm a Virgo Jew, and that means I have an obsessive thoroughness. It's not enough to get most of the details, it's necessary to get them all. I've been accused of perfectionism. When Lew Wasserman (head of Universal Studios) said that Falk is a perfectionist, I don't know whether it was out of affection or because he felt I was a monumental pain in the ass.
With "general amazement", Falk notes: "The show is all over the world. I've been to little villages in Africa with maybe one TV set, and little kids will run up to me shouting, 'Columbo, Columbo!'"Singer Johnny Cash recalled acting in one episode, and although he was not an experienced actor, he writes in his autobiography: "Peter Falk was good to me. I wasn't at all confident about handling a dramatic role, and every day he helped me in all kinds of little ways."
The first episode of Columbo as a series was directed in 1971 by a 24-year-old Steven Spielberg in one of his earliest directing jobs. Falk recalled the episode to Spielberg biographer Joseph McBride:
Let's face it, we had some good fortune at the beginning. Our debut episode, in 1971, was directed by this young kid named Steven Spielberg. I told the producers, Link and Levinson: "This guy is too good for Columbo"... Steven was shooting me with a long lens from across the street. That wasn't common twenty years ago. The comfort level it gave me as an actor, besides its great look artistically—well, it told you that this wasn't any ordinary director."
The character of Columbo had previously been played by Bert Freed in a single television episode of The Chevy Mystery Show in 1960, and by Thomas Mitchell on Broadway. Falk first played Columbo in Prescription: Murder, a 1968 TV movie, and the 1970 pilot for the series, Ransom for a Dead Man. From 1971 to 1978, Columbo aired regularly on NBC as part of the umbrella series NBC Mystery Movie . All episodes were of TV movie length, in a 90- or 120-minute slot including commercials. In 1989, the show returned on ABC in the form of a less frequent series of TV movies, still starring Falk, airing until 2003. Falk won four Emmys for his role as Columbo.
Columbo was so popular, co-creator William Link wrote a series of short stories published as The Columbo Collection (Crippen & Landru, 2010) which includes a drawing by Falk of himself as Columbo, and the cover features a caricature of Falk/Columbo by Al Hirschfeld.
Falk was a close friend of independent film director John Cassavetes and appeared in his films Husbands , A Woman Under the Influence , and, in a cameo, at the end of Opening Night . Cassavetes guest-starred in the Columbo episode "Étude in Black" in 1972; Falk, in turn, co-starred with Cassavetes in the 1976 film Mikey and Nicky . Falk describes his experiences working with Cassavetes, specifically remembering his directing strategies: "Shooting an actor when he might be unaware the camera was running."
You never knew when the camera might be going. And it was never: 'Stop. Cut. Start again.' John would walk in the middle of a scene and talk, and though you didn't realize it, the camera kept going. So I never knew what the hell he was doing. [Laughs] But he ultimately made me, and I think every actor, less self-conscious, less aware of the camera than anybody I've ever worked with."
In 1978, Falk appeared on the comedy TV show The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast , portraying his Columbo character, with Frank Sinatra the evening's victim.
Falk continued to work in films, including his performance as a questionable ex-CIA agent of dubious sanity in the comedy The In-Laws . Director Arthur Hiller said during an interview that the "film started out because Alan Arkin and Peter Falk wanted to work together. They went to Warner Brother's and said, 'We'd like to do a picture', and Warner said fine ... and out came The In-laws ... of all the films I've done, The In-laws is the one I get the most comments on." :290 Movie critic Roger Ebert compared the film with a later remake:
Peter Falk and Alan Arkin in the earlier film, versus Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks this time ... yet the chemistry is better in the earlier film. Falk goes into his deadpan lecturer mode, slowly and patiently explaining things that sound like utter nonsense. Arkin develops good reasons for suspecting he is in the hands of a madman."
Falk appeared in The Great Muppet Caper , The Princess Bride , Murder by Death , The Cheap Detective , Vibes , Made , and in Wim Wenders' 1987 German language film Wings of Desire and its 1993 sequel, Faraway, So Close!. In Wings of Desire, Falk played a semi-fictionalized version of himself, a famous American actor who had once been an angel, but who had grown disillusioned with only observing life on Earth and had in turn given up his immortality. Falk described the role as "the craziest thing that I've ever been offered", but he earned critical acclaim for his supporting performance in the film.
In 1998, Falk returned to the New York stage to star in an Off-Broadway production of Arthur Miller's Mr. Peters' Connections . His previous stage work included shady real estate salesman Shelley "the Machine" Levine in the 1986 Boston/Los Angeles production of David Mamet's prizewinning Glengarry Glen Ross .
Falk starred in a trilogy of holiday television movies – A Town Without Christmas (2001), Finding John Christmas (2003), and When Angels Come to Town (2004) – in which he portrayed Max, a quirky guardian angel who uses disguises and subterfuge to steer his charges onto the right path. In 2005, he starred in The Thing About My Folks . Although movie critic Roger Ebert was not impressed with most of the other actors, he wrote in his review: "... We discover once again what a warm and engaging actor Peter Falk is. I can't recommend the movie, but I can be grateful that I saw it, for Falk." In 2007, Falk appeared with Nicolas Cage in the thriller Next .
Falk married Alyce Mayo whom he met when the two were students at Syracuse University,on April 17, 1960. The couple adopted two daughters, Catherine (who was to become a private investigator) and Jackie. Falk and his wife divorced in 1976. On December 7, 1977, he married actress Shera Danese, who guest-starred in more episides of the Columbo series than any other actress.
Falk was an accomplished artist, and in October 2006 he had an exhibition of his artwork at the Butler Institute of American Art.He took classes at the Art Students League of New York for many years.
Falk was a chess aficionado and a spectator at the American Open in Santa Monica, California, in November 1972, and at the U.S. Open in Pasadena, California, in August 1983.
His memoir Just One More Thing ( ISBN 978-0-78671795-8) was published by Carroll & Graf on August 23, 2006.
Rumors of Falk's dementia plagued the actor in the final years of his life and were exacerbated when in late April 2008 he was photographed by paparazzi looking disheveled and acting animated in the streets of Beverly Hills. Although the actor said his behavior resulted from his frustration over being unable to remember where he had parked his car, the images of his erratic appearance and behavior were published by the media; Falk was seldom seen in public after the incident.
In December 2008 it was reported that Falk had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.In June 2009, at a two-day conservatorship trial in Los Angeles, one of Falk's personal physicians, Dr. Stephen Read, reported he had rapidly slipped into dementia after a series of dental operations in 2007. Dr. Read said it was unclear whether Falk's condition had worsened as a result of anesthesia or some other reaction to the operations. Shera Danese Falk was appointed as her husband's conservator.
On the evening of June 23, 2011, Falk died at his longtime home on Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills at the age of 83.His death was primarily caused by pneumonia, with complications of Alzheimer's disease being a secondary and underlying cause. His daughters said they would remember his "wisdom and humor". Falk's body was buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.
His death was marked by tributes from many film celebrities including Jonah Hill, Roger Ebert, and Stephen FrySteven Spielberg said, "I learned more about acting from him at that early stage of my career than I had from anyone else." Rob Reiner said: "He was a completely unique actor", and went on to say that Falk's work with Alan Arkin in The In-Laws was "one of the most brilliant comedy pairings we've seen on screen".
Shera Danese was Falk's second wife and conservator, and allegedly, according to his daughter Catherine, stopped some of his family members from visiting him, did not notify them of major changes in his condition, and did not notify them of his death and funeral arrangements. Catherine later encouraged the passage of legislation called Peter Falk's Law, that provides guidelines that guardians and conservators for an incapacitated person must comply with regarding visitation rights and notice of death.As of 2016 over ten states had enacted such laws.
|1958||Wind Across the Everglades||Writer||film debut|
|1959||The Bloody Brood||Nico|
|1960||Pretty Boy Floyd||Shorty Walters|
|1960||Murder Inc.||Abe Reles||Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor |
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor
|1960||The Secret of the Purple Reef||Tom Weber|
|1961||Pocketful of Miracles||Joy Boy||Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1962||Pressure Point||Young Psychiatrist|
|1963||The Balcony||Police Chief|
|1963||It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World||Third Cab Driver|
|1964||Robin and the 7 Hoods||Guy Gisborne|
|1964||Attack and Retreat||Medic Captain|
|1965||The Great Race||Maximilian Meen|
|1966||Penelope||Lieutenant Horatio Bixbee|
|1967||Too Many Thieves||Danny|
|1968||A Hatful of Rain||Polo Pope||Television movie|
|1968||Anzio||Corporal Jack Rabinoff|
|1969||Machine Gun McCain||Charlie Adamo|
|1969||Castle Keep||Sergeant Rossi|
|1970||Operation Snafu||Peter Pawney|
|1971||A Step Out Of Line||Harry Connors||Television movie|
|1974||A Woman Under the Influence||Nick Longhetti|
|1976||Griffin and Phoenix||Geoffrey Griffin|
|1976||Murder by Death||Sam Diamond|
|1976||Mikey and Nicky||Mikey|
|1977||Opening Night||Cameo appearance||Uncredited|
|1978||The Cheap Detective||Lou Peckinpaugh|
|1978||The Brink's Job||Tony Pino|
|1978||The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast||Columbo||Television movie|
|1978||Scared Straight!||Himself – Host|
|1979||The In-Laws||Vincent J. Ricardo|
|1981||The Great Muppet Caper||Tramp||Uncredited|
|1981||...All the Marbles||Harry Sears|
|1986||Big Trouble||Steve Rickey|
|1987||Wings of Desire||Himself|
|1987||Happy New Year||Nick|
|1987||The Princess Bride||Grandfather / Narrator|
|1989||Cookie||Dominick "Dino" Capisco|
|1990||In the Spirit||Roger Flan|
|1990||Tune in Tomorrow||Pedro Carmichael|
|1992||Faraway, So Close!||Himself|
|1995||Cops n Roberts||Salvatore Santini|
|1995||The Sunshine Boys||Willie Clark||Television movie|
|1997||Pronto||Harry Arno||Television movie|
|1998||Money Kings||Vinnie Glynn|
|2000||Enemies of Laughter||Paul's Father|
|2000||A Storm in Summer||Abel Shaddick||Television movie|
Nominated—Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Special
|2001||Corky Romano||Francis A. "Pops" Romano|
|2001||A Town Without Christmas||Max||Television movie|
|2001||The Lost World||Reverend Theo Kerr||Television movie|
|2002||Three Days of Rain||Waldo|
|2003||Finding John Christmas||Max||Television movie|
|2004||Shark Tale||Don Ira Feinberg||Voice|
|2004||When Angels Come to Town||Max||Television movie|
|2005||Checking Out||Morris Applebaum|
|2005||The Thing About My Folks||Sam Kleinman|
|2007||Three Days to Vegas||Gus 'Fitzy' Fitzgerald|
|2009||American Cowslip||Father Randolph||(final film role)|
|1958||Kraft Suspense Theatre||Izzy||Episode: "Night Cry"|
|1959||Decoy||Fred Dana||Episode: "The Come Back"|
|1960||Naked City||Gimpy, a gangster shot in the opening scene||Episode: "A Death of Princes". Played opposite Eli Wallach. No credit given in cast.|
|1960||Have Gun–Will Travel||Waller||Episode: "The Poker Fiend"|
|1960||The Untouchables||Duke Mullen||Episode: "The Underworld Bank"|
|1961||The Twilight Zone||Ramos Clemente||Episode: "The Mirror"|
|1961||The Barbara Stanwyck Show||Joe||Episode: "The Assassin"|
|1961||The Law and Mr. Jones||Sydney Jarmon||Episode: "Cold Turkey"|
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
|1961||The Untouchables||Nate Selko||Episode: "The Troubleshooter"|
|1961||Target: The Corruptors!||Nick Longo||1x01 The Million Dollar Dump|
|1961||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Meyer Fine||Episode: "Gratitude"|
|1962||The Alfred Hitchcock Hour||Robert Evans||Episode: "Bonfire"|
|1962||The New Breed||Lopez||Episode: "Cross the Little Line"|
|1962–1963||The Dick Powell Theatre||Various||3 episodes|
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (1962) for the episode "The Price of Tomatoes"
|1963||Dr. Kildare||Matt Gunderson||Episode: "The Balance and the Crucible"|
|1963||Wagon Train||Gus Morgan||Episode: "The Gus Morgan Story"|
|1964||Ben Casey||Dr. Jimmy Reynolds||2 episodes|
|1965–1966||The Trials of O'Brien||Daniel O'Brien||22 episodes|
|1968–2003||Columbo||Lt. Columbo||69 episodes|
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (1973)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (1972, 1976, 1990)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie (1975)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (1972, 1974–76, 1978, 1991)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film (1992, 1994)
Nominated—People's Choice Award for Favorite Male Television Performer (1990–91)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (1973–74, 1977–78, 1991, 1994)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie (1974)
|1971||The Name of the Game||Lewis Corbett||Episode: "A Sister from Napoli"|
|1992||The Larry Sanders Show||Peter Falk||Episode: "Out of the Loop"|
|1961||Murder, Inc.||Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|1962||Pocketful of Miracles||Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|1961||The Law and Mr. Jones||Supporting Role in a Single Program||Nominated|
|1962||The Dick Powell Theatre||Lead Actor - Miniseries TV Movie||Won|
|1972||Columbo||Lead Actor - Drama Series||Won|
|1973||Columbo||Lead Actor - Drama Series||Nominated|
|1974||Columbo||Lead Actor - Limited Series||Nominated|
|1975||Columbo||Lead Actor - Limited Series||Won|
|1976||Columbo||Lead Actor - Drama Series||Won|
|1977||Columbo||Lead Actor - Drama Series||Nominated|
|1978||Columbo||Lead Actor - Drama Series||Nominated|
|1990||Columbo||Lead Actor - Drama Series||Won|
|1991||Columbo||Lead Actor - Drama Series||Nominated|
|1994||Columbo||Lead Actor - Drama Series||Nominated|
|1961||Murder, Inc.||Most Promising Newcomer - Male||Nominated|
|1972||Columbo||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Nominated|
|1973||Columbo||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Won|
|1974||Columbo||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Nominated|
|1975||Columbo||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Nominated|
|1976||Columbo||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Nominated|
|1978||Columbo||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Nominated|
|1991||Columbo||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Nominated|
|1992||Columbo||Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film||Nominated|
|1994||Columbo||Best Actor - Miniseries or Television Film||Nominated|
James Todd Spader is an American actor. He is best known for portraying eccentric characters in films such as the drama Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), the action science fiction film Stargate (1994), the controversial psychological thriller Crash (1996), and the erotic romance Secretary (2002). In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he played the titular character of Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), which he portrayed through voice and motion capture.
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