Columbo: Season 3, Episode 1

Lovely But Lethal (23 Sep. 1973)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 1,016 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 4 critic

The formula for a miracle wrinkle cream leads the founder of a cosmetics company to murder. Lt. Columbo is on the case.



(teleplay), (story), 2 more credits »
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Title: Lovely But Lethal (23 Sep 1973)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Viveca Scott
Karl Lessing
Sian Barbara Allen ...
Shirley Blaine
Fred Draper ...
Lab Attendant Doug
Richard Stahl ...
Burton (as Dick Stahl)
Marc Hannibal ...
Fingerprint Man
David Toma ...
Layne Mathess ...
Fashion Moderator (as Layne Matthess)


Viveca Scott runs Beauty Mark, the cosmetics company whose products are in every woman's home. With sales dropping, she's counting on the miraculous new beauty cream created by her chief chemist to boost sales and overtake her rival, David Lang, but the chemist's assistant steals the formula. Scott attempts to negotiate with him but, in a rage, knocks him over the head with a heavy microscope, killing him. Her rival's secretary finds out and attempts to blackmail her, but the cosmetics queen's worst news is that the rumpled, redoubtable Lt. Columbo is on the case. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

23 September 1973 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the third scene of the movie, we get to see excerpts from a vintage Universal musical. Actually, these selections have been taken from When Willie Comes Marching Home (1950), in which Vera Miles made her first movie appearance. See more »


Safe door is already open before she turns the dial to unlock it. See more »


Viveca Scott: Do I know you?
Columbo: You don't know me, ma'am, but I sure know you. Every time I shave, there ya are. It's a pleasure.
See more »


References Frankenstein (1931) See more »


The Girl from Ipamnema
("Garota de Ipanema") (uncredited)
Music by Antonio Carlos Jobim (1962)
Portugese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes
English lyrics by Norman Gimbel
Toned down instrumental version played at fashion show
See more »

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User Reviews

above average early episode; Vera Miles shines
23 February 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This strikes me as one of the most successful of the early-ish Columbo efforts. Falk is in good form and looks suitably befuddled as he stumbles his way through the labyrinthine world of Big Cosmetics. The villain this time is Vera Miles, who portrays cosmetics industry mogul Viveca Scott. She has an eye for the young chemists who work for her, but alas, one of said chemists gets a little too ambitious and thus must be eliminated. There's exceptional chemistry between Peter Falk and Miss Miles, even by Columbo standards, but much of the success of this episode resides with the tight script and crisp direction. Nice vistas of the ocean contribute to the vaguely exotic backdrop. Bonuses include cameos by a slimy Vincent Price and young Martin Sheen. And Fred Draper registers as the washed up, alcoholic plastic surgeon-in-chief who harbors a lifelong crush on his employer. But it's Vera Miles who dominates this episode. With her scrumptious figure, she looks terrific sashaying around in those awful mod clothes. Thus she's quite believable as a beauty industry tycoon who also moonlights as a health and fitness guru. She simply steals every scene she's in, giving some of the iciest stares that would freeze over the infernal realms while at the same time projecting a smoldering presence about to explode at any minute, pushed as she is to the edge by Columbo's questions and dogged persistence. It's a tribute to her professionalism that she accomplishes all with nary a curtain chewing scene anywhere.

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