Columbo is called in to investigate the disappearance of a Hollywood gossip reporter. All evidence points to one of the last people who saw her alive a mortician-to-the-stars with more than a few skeletons rattling around in his closet. Written by
Did You Know?
The mortuary exterior setting was filmed at the Laury's Restaurant Garden Center and Retail Shop located in Glendale. The facility had been closed by the Laury's management, remaining vacant for a year, when the "Columbo" production team surveyed the sight for the film's mortuary exterior location. The Spanish themed facility had a huge parking area adjacent to the building's main entrance providing an area for a helicopter to land, and to lift off. The parking area was clear of overhead telephone and electric wires, no palm trees, nor planting that would obstruct a pilot maneuvering a helicopter into the landing sight. The buildings' interiors were impractical for filming. The art department added mortuary signs; plugged the central entrance arcade with a double door entrance which was matched on the Universal Studio stage mortuary interior foyer set; restoring landscaping to the sight's grounds with shrubs, palms, and flowering plants. Filming scenes involving the helicopter were done at the sight; one scene which required the helicopter to hover above the ground camera crew's angle shot of Sally Kellerman opening a cremation urn to scatter ashes in the wind. Not anticipating the back draft wind, when Sally opened the prop to dump sand, the dust and sand whipped back up into the helicopter and all over Sally! Another aerial helicopter sequence was filmed over the actual "Hollywood" sign with Sally Kellerman dumping the sand out of the prop urn. Creative license allowed the illegal dump! Only on a "Columbo"!!! See more
During the first 5 minutes of the film, Verity (played by Rue McClanahan) attends a funeral. She kisses the deceased who is lying in an open casket and leaves a red lipstick mark on his face. The mortician's female assistant is immediately instructed to remove the mark. When she does, the deceased's face visibly flinches as the stain is rubbed off his face with a tissue. See more