Columbo (1971–2003)
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A Friend in Deed 

A police commissioner provides a false alibi for a wife killer, but then expects an alibi in return.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Mark Halperin
Margaret Halperin
Hugh Caldwell
Artie Jessup
Bruno Wexler
Eleanor Zee ...
Lt. Duffy
Salesgirl (as Arlene Martell)
Victor Campos ...
Joshua Bryant ...
Dr. MacMurray
John Calvin ...
Charlie Shoup
Amos Lawrence
James V. Christy ...
Alma Beltran ...
Mrs. Fernandez


Hugh Caldwell kills his wife Janice and in despair asks for the help of his friend and neighbor Mark Halperin. Mark helps a friend in deed, of course, so the death appears to be the job of a thief, but Lt. Columbo has some doubts. There is not a single fingerprint of the deceased in her house and he begins to suspect Halperin. Unfortunately for Lt. Columbo, Halperin is the deputy police commissioner. Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia

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Release Date:

5 May 1974 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The funeral home featured in the stock shot (at around 36 mins) is not California. It is the luxurious Ephrussi de Rothschild villa and gardens in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the French Riviera. This location is notably featured in the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again. See more »


After arguing with his wife at the bar, Artie Jessup (Val Avery) goes to the pool table to shoot nine ball, but he places the balls in the rack incorrectly. Traditionally, the one ball is placed at the apex of the diamond on the table spot, the other balls are placed sequentially behind the one ball, from 2 through 8, except for the 9 ball which goes in the middle of the diamond. The 8 ball is placed at the back of the diamond. See more »


Columbo: Commisioner, I believe you killed your wife, and I believe you either killed Janice Caldwell or you're covering up for it.
Mark Halperin: You just lost your badge, my friend.
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References Strangers on a Train (1951) See more »


Jesus, Joy of Man's Desiring
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
Played at funeral
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The Guts of a burglar
14 October 2012 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Peter Falk really put himself on the line to get his man in this Columbo episode. One of two perpetrators is one of the civilian police commissioners of the LAPD so he'd better get this one right.

There are two murders in this episode, one a crime of passion, the other a crime of opportunity. Michael McGuire kills his wife right at the beginning of the episode. He runs to the house of his neighbor Commissioner Richard Kiley, maybe Kiley will get him a lawyer, maybe a fix will be put in for leniency.

But Kiley has another scheme in mind. In their Bel Air neighborhood there have been a series burglaries and it could easily be made to look like this was the work of the burglar. And maybe another murder could fit the pattern as well, that of Kiley's wife Rosemary Murphy who apparently he's been contemplating murder for some time about.

So Murphy is done away with and the police are looking to pin this on a burglar. That is every cop except Columbo who has his own ideas.

Kudos have to go to Val Avery who plays a professional burglar who Columbo gets for some professional advice. The two make quite a team in taking down Kiley and McGuire.

Avery in his own way is a mirror image of Columbo, a working guy who happens to be on the other side of the law. One of the best performances from that under-appreciated character actor.

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