"Columbo" A Trace of Murder (TV Episode 1997) Poster

(TV Series)



When soliciting his help questioning the accomplice, Columbo says to Pat, the murder, "Three eyes are better than one." This is an inside joke reference to the fact that actor Peter Falk has a prosthetic eye whereas the character, Columbo, does not.
Peter Falk's actual actress-wife, Shera Danese, performs the role Cathleen Calvert, the conniving wife who wants to murder her husband.
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The filming location for the exterior and interiors of the lead characters was filmed in the former estate of Clark Gable, in the San Fernando Valley. The interior's hardwood flooring had to be covered with cardboard for protection; removed in areas being filmed, being promptly reset while the next set-up was rehearsed or lighted for camera filming. A few additional pieces of furniture replaced the owner's antiques, which were either unstable or to delicate for actual use. Otherwise, the property was filmed as decorated.
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Peter Falk always went on preliminary location scouts with his director, production manager, production designer, art director, set decorator, driver captain and location manager. The director Vince McAveety, production designer Hub Braden, the production manager Christopher Seiter, on the initial scout with Peter Falk, had to convince Peter that the location would make a great building to film exteriors and interiors. Budget restricted renting a Universal Studio's stage and building all the sets required for the scenario's set demands. Downtown Los Angeles, adjacent, north, of the Harbor Freeway, is the former Union 76 headquarters building. The front exterior and interior lobby was the location for the police headquarters. The rear delivery entrance of the building was also filmed as the police station. The lower garage area and driveway ramps were dressed with police graphics, police cars, for the headquarters garage area. The lower floor (Union 76) computer room was converted into a police lab. On the upper Union 76 executive suite floor, this open office area was converted into a penthouse setting. With stage flats, additional door entrances, closing down the expansive office area, the penthouse suite was created with the downtown city horizon as a master view. Several other offices in the building were converted into scripted offices and apartment interiors, requiring additional door flats, stage wall flats, painting, drapery and furniture dressing. The building's rooftop was also filmed. Since this "Columbo" was filmed, this building has been converted into a film production facility, which has built additional stages on adjacent property formerly owned by Union 76.
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The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel was one of the primary locations used for filming. "Columbo" was visiting a mortician's convention. Sitting in an adjacent lobby-hallway, outside the ballroom was a vintage Cadillac Hearse. The Construction Coordinator, Doug Vlaming and his "hammer tones" had to pull the hotel's Hollywood Boulevard Entrance double-doorways, in order to drive the hearse into the hotel's hallway. Replacing the entrance for filming, afterwards removing the entry, again, to back the Hearse out of the hotel, and re-installing everything that they had removed. The Hotel Management, approved any production request, because management was familiar with the "Columbo" Art Department team, (Hub Braden, Mary Dodson, Bill Gregory, and Doug Vlaming). They had been the same staff on the "Murder, She Wote" production crew which had used the hotel facility for many repeat location filming for the MSW yearly series schedule.
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