Columbo (1971–2003)
16 user 4 critic

Candidate for Crime 

Senatorial candidate Nelson Hayward murders his domineering campaign manager, staging it to appear that Hayward himself was the intended victim of a mob hit gone wrong.



(teleplay by) (as Irving Pearlberg), (teleplay by) | 5 more credits »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Vickie Hayward
Linda Johnson
Harry Stone
Sgt. Vernon
Jay Varela ...
Sgt. Rojas
Deputy Commissioner
Dr. Perenchio
Jude Farese ...
Highway Patrolman
Clete Roberts ...
TV Anchor Man
Angelo Grisanti ...
1st Detective


Nelson Hayward is running for the senate as a man tough on crime. His dictatorial campaign manager, Harry Stone, orders the candidate dump his mistress, backing up his demand with threats to expose the politician's shady past. Stone little guesses that his own publicity-minded lie about anonymous killers threatening the politician's life will lead Hayward to murder him and blame it on the invented assailants. Hayward sets up a tricky alibi for himself around a surprise birthday party for his wife. No one suspects the clever deception except that annoyingly observant Italian-American cop in the rumpled raincoat - the redoubtable Lt. Columbo. Written by J. Spurlin / revised by statmanjeff

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Release Date:

4 November 1973 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Katey Sagal, who plays a secretary at the campaign headquarters, is the daughter of this episode's director, Boris Sagal. See more »


When Haywood fires his gun into the wall, it's a silenced revolver. Revolvers cannot be silenced using a silencer. That only works on automatics or semi-automatics. See more »


Lt. Columbo: Would you believe it? The first thing I did this morning when I left your campaign headquarters, I run right over to your tailor's.
Nelson Hayward: I'm sure he was delighted. He loves a challenge.
Lt. Columbo: Whattaya mean, sir?
Nelson Hayward: Uh, nothin'. It's a small joke.
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Referenced in Columbo: Publish or Perish (1974) See more »


This Old Man
Traditional children's song hummed by Jackie Cooper before TV commercial.
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User Reviews

Candidate for one of the best in the series!
6 December 2004 | by (Port Talbot, South Wales,UK) – See all my reviews

A vintage Columbo episode that pits him against a candidate for the US senate (played by Jackie Cooper) who murders his domineering, heavy-handed campaign manager.

On reflection, this is a highly effective addition to the series. The tension is efficiently created and maintained through excellent pacing: Columbo's progressive unbalancing of all of the people involved in the love-triangle (murderer, murderer's wife and murderer's lover) is effectively interwoven with the tension evoked by a soon-to-be-decided election.

There is plenty of wonderful interplay between Columbo and murderer: the balance of power see-saws intermittently, as the murderer offers one or two sharp answers to Columbo's questions before Columbo's intuitive nature proves too difficult to overcome.

Jackie Cooper gives an excellently stern-faced performance as the murderer, perfectly exhibiting the dubious sincerity that often riddles the image of politicians. In the end, the script-writer cleverly convinces the viewer that the murderer's desire to be become a US senator has been overtaken by the need to expel Columbo's suspicions about the whole case.

Undoubtedly, Columbo is handed to the case by a a somewhat impetuous act, but this a credible resolution given the desperation that the murderer feels, in order to revitalise the theory that he has been the murder target all along.

In conclusion, a decisively scripted, superlative Columbo story which is strong in all departments and is certainly one of the best in the long-running series.

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