Charlie Clay runs a ship-building business owned by his father-in-law, Commodore Otis Swanson, who is not happy with his profiteering son-in-law's shady dealings. Nor is he pleased with any of the people closest to him, including his alcoholic daughter Joanna Clay, his elderly nephew Swanny Swanson or his lawyer Kittering. Soon the Commodore is murdered, and Charlie Clay covers it up by impersonating the Commodore, taking the corpse out on the man's yawl at night and throwing the body overboard. Lt. Columbo investigates this case with the help of a veteran sergeant and a 29-year-old novice. The rumpled, redoubtable detective knows Clay covered up the crime, but his assumption that Clay committed the crime may prove premature. Written by
Did You Know?
The yacht identified in the episode as belonging to Charles Clay is in fact the Dittmar Donaldson-designed 85-foot superyacht Mojo, built in 1969 and owned by Los Angeles businessman Frank Muller. Over the decades, Mojo has played host to many celebrities, including Michael Jackson
(for the ceremonial scattering of Barry White
's ashes), as well as Brad Pitt
, Jennifer Aniston
, Ben Stiller
, and members of the band 311. She was also a favorite of US President Richard Nixon
, who sailed on Mojo no less than two dozen times.
Perhaps her most notorious celebrity guests, however, were George C. Scott
and his wife, Trish Van Devere
. Having paid US$10,000 to charter Mojo for ten days in late January, 1978, and keen to be underway to Pebble Beach for the Crosby Pro-Am Golf Tournament, Scott encouraged the yacht's captain Norm Catton to exit Morro Bay harbor into heavy 20-foot seas against the advice of both Harbor Patrol and the Coast Guard. Mojo was overwhelmed by a massive breaker, shattering the wheelhouse windows and injuring both the captain and Van Devere, and causing damage totaling US$85,000 (~US$310,000 in 2016 dollars).
Following the incident, Mojo was rebuilt and lengthened to 100 feet. A subsequent refit in the 1990s changed her styling almost unrecognizably, but she remains in service to this day with Hornblower Cruises & Events in her long-time home of Newport Beach, CA. See more
As Columbo wraps up his phone call with Ensign O'Connor aboard Charles Clay's yacht, three people can be seen on the adjacent yacht "Cameo", peering through the windows in the background. They're clearly not extras, since they stare at the camera nearly constantly, only occasionally turning to discuss what they're seeing with each other. See more
A sad story, enough to make you weep.
Featured in Big Daddy
This Old Man
Traditional English children's song/nursery rhyme.
On soundtrack in several variations at end as Columbo rows away See more