Edit
Peter Falk Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (6) | Trivia (42) | Personal Quotes (3) | Salary (2)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 16 September 1927New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 23 June 2011Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (Alzheimer's disease)
Birth NamePeter Michael Falk
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Peter Michael Falk was born on September 16, 1927, in New York City, New York. At the age of 3, his right eye was surgically removed due to cancer. He graduated from Ossining High School, where he was president of his class. His early career choices involved becoming a certified public accountant, and he worked as an efficiency expert for the Budget Bureau of the state of Connecticut before becoming an actor. On choosing to change careers, he studied the acting art with Eva Le Gallienne and Sanford Meisner. His most famous role is that of the detective Columbo; however, this was not his first foray into acting the role of a detective. During a high school play, he stood in for such a role when the original student actor fell sick. He has been married twice, and is the father of two children:Catherine, a private detective in real life, and Jackie. He was diagnosed with dementia in 2008, which was most likely brought on by Alzheimer's disease, from which he died on June 23, 2011.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Rachel

Spouse (2)

Shera Danese (7 December 1977 - 23 June 2011) (his death)
Alyce Mayo (17 April 1960 - 28 May 1976) (divorced) (2 children)

Trade Mark (6)

As Columbo: The raincoat, the cigar, the slouch, the false exit followed by the catchphrase, "One more thing..."
Half-closed eye which was actually removed in childhood
Short and stocky physique
High-pitched gravelly voice
Thick eyebrows
New York accent

Trivia (42)

One of his greatest passions was drawing and sketching; has studio on grounds of Beverly Hills estate.
His right eye was surgically removed at the age of three, because of cancer.
Attended and graduated from Ossining High School on Ossining, New York.
President of his high school class.
Worked as an efficiency expert for the Budget Bureau of the state of Connecticut before becoming an actor. Studied acting with Eva Le Gallienne and Sanford Meisner.
Was a certified public accountant.
Falk put the damper on a rumor that his trademark Columbo raincoat had been placed in the Smithsonian Institution: said that it was in his upstairs closet.
In his first foray into acting, he took the role of detective in a high school play when original student-actor fell sick. He left college to serve as a cook in the Merchant Marines. He later received political science degree from New School in New York, then graduated from Syracuse University. He applied at the CIA, but was turned down. He took state budget department job in Hartford, Connecticut. Five years after he started taking acting lessons, he earned first Oscar nomination.
Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures and renowned for his boorishness and vulgarity, rejected Falk, declaring, "For the same money, I can get an actor with two eyes!".
Peter's paternal grandparents, Louis and Ida Falk, were Russian Jewish immigrants. Peter's maternal grandfather, Peter Hochhauser, was a Hungarian Jew, and Peter's maternal grandmother, Rosa Heller, was a Czech Jewish immigrant (from what was then Bohemia).
Once when he was playing in a Little League game, the umpire called him out. Falk thought that he was safe. He pulled his glass eye out of its socket and handed it to the umpire, telling him, "Here, I think you might need this.".
His daughter Catherine Falk is a private detective in real life.
Lt. Columbo's first name is explicitly and even doggedly never revealed in the series (i.e. "What's your first name? Lieutenant...") However, with modern freeze-frame capabilities, when Columbo flashes his badge in the episode "Dead Weight", the name "Frank" can clearly be seen on his ID.
Columbo's wife, of whom he often speaks, is never seen in the series. Interestingly, most of the facts that are supposedly known about Lt. Columbo's private life are up in the air and sometimes contradictory. This may be due to his character being somewhat forgetful or may be due to him leading a suspect with a "likely story" hoping they will trip up and reveal a clue. His car, a 1959 Peugeot 403 Cabriolet, is in most every episode and is treated almost as a character.
Had two daughters with his wife Alyce Mayo: Catherine Falk and Jackie Falk.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith, pg. 153-154. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387.
Began acting when he was 26, but did not officially declare himself an actor and move to New York until he was 28.
During the June 5, 2000, episode of The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn (1999), Craig Kilborn's third question to Falk during "Five Questions" was this: "Use the words 'Falk' and 'you' in a sentence". Falk chuckled a bit, touched his nose, and replied simply: "Falk... you!".
Has his look-alike puppet in the French show Les guignols de l'info (1988).
He and his good friend John Cassavetes made six movies together: Husbands (1970), Machine Gun McCain (1969), Mikey and Nicky (1976), Opening Night (1977), Big Trouble (1986), A Woman Under the Influence (1974) and one television movie: Columbo: Étude in Black (1972).
Had a street renamed after him in his hometown of Ossining, New York. To unveil the Peter Falk Place street sign, he pulled off a trademark raincoat covering the sign (2005).
Was close friends with the late Patrick McGoohan.
Avatar's voice in the animated movie Wizards (1977) (voiced by Bob Holt) was modelled after Falk.
Has inspired at least two Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters. Dick Dastardly in Wacky Races (1968) was based on Falk's Max Meen from The Great Race (1965), and Mumbly, the detective dog on The New Tom & Jerry Show (1975) was loosely based on Columbo.
In 1961, he became the first actor nominated for an Oscar and an Emmy in the same year, receiving best supporting nominations for the movie Murder, Inc. (1960) and the television series The Law and Mr. Jones (1960). He followed up in 1962 by being doubly nominated again for supporting actor for the movie Pocketful of Miracles (1961) and best actor (he won) for "The Price of Tomatoes", an episode of The Dick Powell Theatre (1961).
Auditioned for the role of Ted Henderson in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), which went to Elliott Gould.
He was involved in a car accident in June 2008 when he lost control while driving, sustaining a head injury.
Had a hip replacement in June 2008.
Diagnosed with dementia, probably brought on by Alzheimer's disease, in 2008.
Had been a heavy cigarette smoker since his mid-teens, but after he started playing Columbo, he mainly switched to cigars in real life.
Wanted to join the United States Marine Corps when he was 17, but was rejected because of his blind eye.
Underwent a series of major dental operations in 2007.
He was awarded Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Ministry of Culture of France; the medal was given to him by Gérard Depardieu in March 1996.
After high school, he briefly attended Hamilton College in upstate New York. He was a merchant marine after he dropped out of college. He went to New York City where he received his Bachelor's degree in Political Science from the New School for Social Research in New York City. He received his Master's degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University in Syracause, New York.
At 29 years old, he studied acting with the Mark Twain Masquers in Hartford, Connecticut, and studied with Eva Le Gallienne at the White Barn Theater in Westport, Connecticut.
Numerous press obits incorrectly stated that Falk won a 1972 Tony Award for Best Actor in a play for Neil Simon's "The Prisoner of Second Avenue". As listed on a Tony Awards website search, Cliff Gorman won the 1972 Tony Award for the play "Lenny". In addition, Falk was never nominated for a Tony Award in his career.
When actors are required to move from one location to another during filming on a sound stage, the exact spot they are to move to is marked on the floor, usually with a piece of tape. This is to ensure that they stand in the area that is preset for the correct camera angle, lighting, sound, etc. Part of Falk's trademark behavior as Columbo was out of necessity, as he pretended to scratch or touch his forehead over his left eye. In reality, he blocked the camera view of his good eye, so as he was looking down, he could locate the tape on the floor. That is how his trademark "pensive Columbo look" got its start.
Adopted daughter, Catherine Falk, files for conservatorship, explaining that Falk has been suffering from Alzheimer's disease and, at age 81, he no longer recognizes anyone. Later sworn statements from the Falk family, family friends and associates report Catherine has been long-estranged from her father and would not handle his affairs in his best interest. [December 2008]
Shera Danese, Falk's wife of 32 years, files paperwork with the court, including sworn statements from longtime CPA, attorney, friends and family members, stating she is already attending to Falk's affairs, Falk named her as his guardian when first diagnosed with the disease, and long-estranged adopted daughter's attempt to gain conservatorship and control of his affairs is not in Falk's best interests. [January 2009]
Shera Danese, his wife, is awarded conservatorship of his affairs. [May 2009]
Interred at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.
Best known by the public for his starring role as the title character on Columbo (1971).

Personal Quotes (3)

[upon losing to Peter Ustinov for the 1961 Oscars] When I hit the seat, I turned to the press agent and said "You're fired!". I didn't want him charging me for another day.
[on Columbo's appeal] What are you hanging around for? Just one thing. You want to know how he gets caught.
Being chased by Columbo is like being nibbled to death by a duck.

Salary (2)

Wind Across the Everglades (1958) $300 /week
Murder by the Book (1971) $350,000 per 2 hour episode

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page