Columbo (1971–2003)
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Murder, a Self Portrait 

Columbo investigates the apparent drowning of a famous painters first wife.



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Episode complete credited cast:
Max Barsini
Vanessa Barsini
Isabel García Lorca ...
Julie (as Isabel Lorca)
Dr. Sydney Hammer
David Byrd ...
Don Bovingloh ...
Lenny Hicks ...
Morgue Attendant
Danny Hassel ...
Roger Etienne ...
Night Visitor
Officer (as Frank L. Wiltse)
Harold Harris ...
Harry Chudnow
Don Schneider ...
Bystander at Beach


Max Barsini is an artist who has a most unusual living arrangement with three women. He is married to Vanessa, and Julie is his live in model. Louise is his first wife who lives next door. Max takes delight in the way they fight for his attention, but also likes to control them. So when Louise starts seeing a psychologist, Max not only fears that she will break away but also that she will reveal a secret that Max will kill to keep hidden and he does. He makes it appear that she drowned but Columbo knows something is wrong. Written by <>

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Release Date:

25 November 1989 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of the few episodes where we see Columbo before we see the murder or murderer. See more »


The front doorway of Max Barsini's house has a mezuzah, a Jewish religious symbol. There is nothing in the episode, including other decor in the home, to suggest Barsini or any of the episode's other characters are Jewish. See more »


Lt. Columbo: You would never tell.
Vanessa Barsini: Wild horses couldn't get it out of me.
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User Reviews

Interesting episode that isn't entirely successful
26 February 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

As a longtime Columbo fan, I in general liked Murder, A Self Portrait, but I don't consider it one of the better episodes. Starting with the problems, I do agree about the ending, the character of Barsini was so strong a vast majority of the episode but the ending where he gives up all too easily I felt weakened his character. I had very mixed feelings on the dream sequences, they are stylishly shot and convincingly played but also convoluted and solved too simply. However Murder, A Self Portrait is beautifully shot with striking scenery and has an atmospheric music score. The dialogue is generally clever and thoughtful, Columbo and Barsini's scenes are fun to watch but I would've loved to have seen more of the other suspects. The story has a few patchy moments here and there and feels a little strtched towards the end, but it is briskly paced and interesting on the whole, and the acting while I have seen better with Columbo episodes is good. Peter Falk as he always is as Columbo is brilliant, and Patrick Bauchau is engaging as Barsini. The support cast don't have as much to do, but Fionnula Flannagan and particularly Shera Danese are good. All in all, an interesting and worthwhile episode, but not one of my favourites. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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