An egotistical but successful star of a TV detective show murders his blackmailing producer and makes it look like a robbery.


(teleplay by), (teleplay by) (as Peter Feibleman) | 3 more credits »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Alan Manson ...
Sid Daley
Clare Daley
Danny Dayton ...
Tony (as Timothy Agoglia Carey)
Sgt. Johnson
Assistant Director (as J.P. Finnegan)
Jimmy Joyce ...
Camera Operator
Frank Emmett Baxter ...
Walter Gray
Fred Draper ...
Joseph (first scene, flubbed line)


Ward Fowler is an actor of a soap opera and his character is Detective Lucerne. His producer is Claire Daley, once his lover and now his blackmailer. Fowler decides to kill Claire and to do in such a way as to accuse her husband. Lt. Columbo begins to investigate and he is helped by Detective Lucerne who at a certain moment suspects the actor Fowler... Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia

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Release Date:

10 October 1976 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:


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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Judd Hirsch has an uncredited appearance as Kenny, the on-set make-up artist for Ward Fowler (portrayed by William Shatner). See more »


The baseball announcer refers to one team as "Los Angeles" and mentions their game the previous week in Kansas City. At that time, the teams could only be the Los Angeles Dodgers of the National League and the Kansas City Royals of the American League, but they would not play a regular season game against each other until more than twenty years later. See more »


Lieutenant Columbo: How does a smart man like Lieutenant Lucerne make a mistake like THAT?
Ward Fowler: Because you're not talking to Lieutenant Lucerne at the moment, are you, Lieutenant? You're talking to Ward Fowler.
Lieutenant Columbo: Well, what's the difference, sir?
Ward Fowler: The difference is Ward Fowler's under suspicion of murder, and a man under that kind of threat is... apt to make mistakes. He's apt to get rattled.
Lieutenant Columbo: Well, who ever said anything about Ward Fowler being under suspicion of murder?
Ward Fowler: Lieutenant Lucerne did.
Lieutenant Columbo: He did? Well, how did he ...
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References Jaws (1975) See more »


This Old Man
Traditional English children's counting folk song.
[Sung without words by Columbo (Peter Falk) while walking towards Fowler's dressing room.]
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User Reviews

Shatner dominates
20 September 2016 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I thought FADE IN TO MURDER was a very good episode of the Columbo show. The thing that you'll either love or hate about this is William Shatner as the guest villain. He plays a movie detective and is so larger than life that he dominates the whole thing. Shatner has never been so mannered as he is here and yet his character is completely likable throughout; in fact he plays one of the most likable characters of his whole career. I loved the bizarre interludes in which he gets interviewed by Columbo and adopts his TV detective persona, helping out the crumpled detective.

The rest of the production is above average. The opening murder sequence is surprisingly violent and arresting and unlike any other in the show. There's a fantastic little cameo from Walter Koenig which STAR TREK fans will love, and Columbo himself seems to be particularly bashful here and awed by Shatner's exuberance. The ending is one you won't see coming and FADE IN TO MURDER as a whole has the feel-good factor which makes it a delight to sit through.

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