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Tribute: Peter Falk

posted by Nell Minow

A sad farewell to actor Peter Falk, who died this week at age 83.  Perhaps best remembered for his long-running television show, Columbo, his passing reminds us of his  wide-ranging work as everything from a singing gangster to an animated shark. He was the story-telling grandfather in The Princess Bride, the spy who created pre-wedding chaos in the original (and far better) “The In-Laws” (1979), the neglected gem inspired by a true story about a grandfather who raises first his grandson and then his great-grandchildren in Roommates, and an essential contributor to the ground-breaking naturalism of pioneering indie-film director John Cassavetes in films like Husbands.  His live theater work included a Tony award- winning performance in Neil Simon’s “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” and he was twice nominated for an Oscar, for “Murder Inc.” and “Pocket Full of Miracles.” Many of his fans never realized that he had a glass eye because of cancer when he was a child or that he was a CPA.

The unusual structure of the “Columbo” detective series revealed the murderer (almost always someone wealthy and powerful) at the beginning.  Lt. Columbo (Falk) would come in, lull the culprit into feeling safe by appearing obsequious and bumbling, and then solve the crime in the last act.  The fun was in watching him outsmart the people who believed they had thought of everything.  As a producer of the show, Falk helped to ensure top quality guest stars and directors.  Steven Spielberg (pre-“Jaws”) directed one of the first episodes.  He said, “Peter was the same kind of digger as an actor as his character Columbo was in finding the truth in that great tv series. He was a blast to work with and I learned more about acting from him at that early stage of my career than I had from anyone else.”

The PBS NewsHour shared a scene from “Columbo” with William Shatner as an television actor who plays a Columbo-like character and mistakenly thought he could get away with murder.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Earth Angel

    Peter Falk was a true Legend
    and touched many lives via the films of roles
    he starred in
    he hold the hearts of his fans and his memory will live on through the dvds.
    Peter is well loved and missed by all “Global
    fans,
    Peter in Heaven ,resting in Eternity.
    and his passing has hit his true fans hard
    Peter memory will live on through the dvds
    Peter was very attractive man with a Beautiful charming smile
    Peter is a legend where up and coming actors
    can watch and take note from a top actor
    Peter will forever be in his fans hearts
    God Bless you Peter xox
    hugs to
    Earth Angel

    • Nell Minow

      A lovely tribute, Earth Angel! Thanks.

  • http://www.hotmail.com Earth Angel

    WATCHING PETER FALK IN MANY FILMS THE IN-LAWS
    WAS BRILLIANT …….HE NATURAL ALBILTY AS
    ACTOR ,HE OUT SHONE HIS OWN ROLE COLUMBO
    AND BUILDING UP A COLLECTION OF PETER,
    PETER WILL ALWAYS REMIAN IN MY HEART AND THOUGHTS FOR DECADES TO COME,ALONG WITH THE REST OF THE FANS ROUND THE GLOBE

    PETER WAS A CHARMING WARM MAN ,HAVING SUCH
    WARMTH ABOUT IT SHONE THROUGH WHEN HE WAS EVEN STARRING IN ROLES ,FILMS ,SHOWS THE FILMS COVERED ALOT OF ANGLES BUT IT WAS KEPT LIGHT HEARTED SENSE ..HUMOUR COMEDY TO ME THE IN -LAWS WIN A GLOBE.N PETER WITH HIS NATURAL ABILTIY ACTING

    I ADORE PETER IN THIS FILM
    AND WILL HOLD HIM IN MY HEART FOR DECADE

    MAY HE REST IN GOD LOVING TENDER CARE AND THE
    ANGELS TOO

    HUGS XXX TO YOU IN SPIRIT PETER
    LOVE AND MISS YOU NOW AND ALWAYS
    PETER EARTH ANGEL
    EARTH ANGEL XXXX

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