Columbo (1971–2003)
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Forgotten Lady 

A faded dance star of film and stage murders her husband and makes it look like a suicide; Lt. Columbo doubts her seemingly perfect alibi.



(as Bill Driskill), (created by) | 1 more credit »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Grace Wheeler Willis
Dr. Henry Willis
Ned Diamond
Linda Gaye Scott ...
Alma (as Linda Scott)
Dr. Westrum
Sgt. Leftkowitz
Dr. Lansberg
Jerome Guardino ...
Danny Wells ...
Bookstore Clerk
Harvey Gold ...


Grace Wheeler Willis was a star, a very famous star. Every night in her house she sees one of her old movies. When she decides to set up a new show and her husband refuses to finance it, Grace coldly kills him, staging a suicide. Lt. Columbo is not deceived from her performance. But at the end, the murderer will escape her sentence, or perhaps not. Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia

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Release Date:

14 September 1975 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film Janet Leigh refers to at the end from one of the 'leather bound programs that arrived earlier' as having been set in the Caribbean and starred herself, Ned Diamond (who is presumably a substitute for Donald O'Connor since they keep referring to him being her co-star in Walking My Baby Back Home (1953)), and Donald Meek as a hotel clerk - is a fictitious film. Meek's last 3 films were in 1947 and Leigh's first 2 films were in the same year - none of them together. The only possible connection is that Leigh's second film was If Winter Comes (1947) (1947) starring Walter Pidgeon. Pidgeon had previously played the titular role in Nick Carter, Master Detective (1939) and the two sequels Phantom Raiders (1940) and Sky Murder (1940), with Donald Meek as his apiary-obsessed sidekick Bartholomew in all three. Long before those Meek played a hotel manager in And So They Were Married (1936) and a hotel clerk in _Wayward_ (1932). It is not possible that Meek visited the set for If Winter Comes (1947), since he had died in November of 1946 and production of this film didn't start until summer of 1947. As for Leigh's debut, and only other film that year - The Romance of Rosy Ridge (1947); it seems production started in the fall of 1946. So if he is in a film with Janet Leigh - it's her first. But more likely though, one might suppose this is Janet Leigh playing the part of her Columbo character who is sick and becoming quite forgetful. See more »


Dr. Willis falls asleep with both hands under the book. When Grace Willis enters the room a few minutes later to stage the suicide, his right arm is laying extended against his body above the covers and his left hand is under the covers. See more »


Ned Diamond: Lieutenant, you must be aware of the fact that... that men who retire from very active lives very often go into severe depression for no apparent reason whatsoever. I know. I've been there.
Columbo: You didn't shoot yourself, did ya? Big difference between being old and unhappy and puttin' a gun to your head. Has to be a reason.
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References This Gun for Hire (1942) See more »


Walking My Baby Back Home
(1931) (uncredited)
Music by Fred E. Ahlert
Lyrics by Roy Turk
Heard over main titles of movie that's projected and heard in mirror scene
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User Reviews

Not a forgotten episode
1 July 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This somewhat lively segment of Columbo stars Janet Leigh, a once shining star who's fading quickly and needs to turn to her husband, played by Sam Jaffe, to finance her career. He refuses, and later we find out it's because she has a terminal brain injury, and after he gives her the bad news about not financing her, she kills him as he's sedated by sleeping pills; it's obvious she didn't marry him out of love, and this was mentioned by him before she kills him. I'm not certain if Leigh's star was dimming in real life in 1975, as I believe Anne Baxter's was(she starred in another episode), but the story was convincing. Many of the scenes between her and the late Peter Falk were very good, and even though he was a rumpled mess whenever he came to talk to her, she seemed to enjoy how he gushed over her and adored the adulation; most of those questioned by Columbo can't stand him, so this is refreshing. I don't think Columbo's speculation about the extra 15 minutes of the film Grace(Leigh)was watching would carry that much weight in court, but many of these episodes seem to make suspects confess, and it doesn't seem likely. I give props for one of the most clever endings of any Columbo episode, which has Grace basically forgetting she even murdered her husband, and her dance partner of many years named Ned(John Payne), admitting to the crime because Columbo informs him that she has just a few months to live. This is a very sad conclusion and doesn't have the usual formula which would typically make the audience happy.

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