Columbo (1971–2003)
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Old Fashioned Murder 

The spinster head of a family-run museum murders her brother when he threatens to dissolve the financially strapped institution.



(teleplay by), (story by) (as Lawrence Vail) | 2 more credits »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Ruth Lytton
Janie Brandt
Edward Lytton
Mrs. Brandt
Peter S. Feibleman ...
Milton Shaeffer
Jon Miller ...
Sgt. Miller
Jess Osuna ...
Dr. Tim Shaeffer
Anthony Holland ...
Lucy Saroyan ...
Gary Krawford ...
Watch Salesman
Eloise Hardt ...
cathy - Maid
2nd Detective
Giles Douglas ...


The Lytton family owns a museum. Siblings Ruth and Edward (curator and trustee, respectively) have devoted their lives to it, but with things not going so well, Edward has decided to sell it. Ruth doesn't agree and plans otherwise (the old-fashioned way). She has a niece, Janie, whom she loves more than her mother does, who has hired Milton Schaeffer, a petty thief and inveterate gambler (and the brother of her (Janie's) lover), as their new security guard. With a subsequent double-homicide on hand utilizing these details, Columbo delves into the family's personal history to help unravel spinster Ruth's ruthless scheme. Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia / with additional information by statmanjeff

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Plot Keywords:

museum | trustee | curator | murder | death | See All (64) »


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Release Date:

28 November 1976 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The mansion that the Lyttons live in is the same one that Bruce Wayne lived in on the Batman TV series. See more »


Even though Columbo's hair is cut by Daryl, later on in the episode it is the same length as is was before the hair cut. See more »


Columbo: Well, you've got some family, Miss Lytton. Everybody thinks I'm getting ready to arrest them.
Ruth Lytton: Everybody but me.
Columbo: Yes. It's a relief talking to you. I was beginning to feel like a policeman.
Ruth Lytton: You ARE a policeman - and a good one. You say a thing when you're ready to say it and not before.
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This Old Man
English folk children's counting song.
Whistled by Peter Falk
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User Reviews

An Excellent Columbo!
17 July 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Lyttons are not a normal Southern California family. They are of the old money and had a place in society. Peter Falk's Columbo could not be more out of place than with eccentric bunch. Joyce Van Patten is a brilliant, under-rated actress who deserves awards and nominations for always leaving her mark in any role. After watching her in this role as Ruth Lytton, you want to see more of her. Celeste Holm does an exceptional job of playing her sister who won her sister's fiancé, married, and produced Janie, the heir to the Lytton fortune. Ruth and her brother Edward are caught in a conflict over the family's legacy which includes a museum that is constantly losing money. Ruth is determined to keep the museum alive because it is her life. Edward wants the best for his family and thinks by selling it that they would all benefit from it. Well, the only weak casting is the role of Janie, the niece. I liked her performance but I can't get that one awful vision of her reaction to finding her uncle's body in the museum. It is the most awkward reaction regarding murder. I won't say anymore but I think the writing was excellent. I think Joyce's Ruth and Peter Falk's Columbo was a good pair. I can sympathize with Ruth's loss of love and her devotion and loyalty to her family.

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