IMDb > "Mrs. Columbo" A Riddle for Puppets (1979)

"Mrs. Columbo" A Riddle for Puppets (1979)

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Gregory S. Dinallo (written by)
Richard Alan Simmons (developer)
View company contact information for A Riddle for Puppets on IMDbPro.
Original Air Date:
15 March 1979 (Season 1, Episode 3)
A ventriloquist finds his dummy is acting independently of his will and kills the man who carved it. It's up to Kate Columbo to solve the murder. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Erich Von Stroheim, Michael Redgrave, Cliff Robertson, Jackie Cooper, Anthony Hopkins—and now Jay Johnson, in yet another ventriloquist vs. dummy tale See more (1 total) »


 (Episode Cast) (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Kate Mulgrew ... Kate Columbo

Henry Jones ... Josh Alden

Lili Haydn ... Jenny Columbo
Jay Johnson ... Noel Abbott

Michael Durrell ... Sergeant Caplan

Al Ruscio ... Victor March
Erica Yohn ... Aunt Lucy
Helena Carroll ... Nora Phelps

Nancy Jeris ... Nurse
David Himes ... Knapp
Tom Scott ... Officer Morrison

Barbara Mallory ... Nun

Episode Crew
Directed by
Edward M. Abroms  (as Edward Abroms)
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Gregory S. Dinallo  written by
Richard Alan Simmons  developer

Produced by
Stuart Cohen .... associate producer
David Levinson .... producer
James Duff McAdams .... supervising producer (as James McAdams)
Richard Alan Simmons .... executive producer
Original Music by
John Cacavas 
Cinematography by
Thomas Del Ruth 
Film Editing by
Howard Deane  (as Howard S. Deane)
Larry Lester 
Casting by
Bob Manahan 
Art Direction by
Seymour Klate 
Set Decoration by
Richard B. Goddard 
Costume Design by
Brienne Glyttov  (as Brienne Von Glyttov)
Production Management
Daniel Franklin .... unit production manager (as Dan Franklin)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Phil Bowles .... first assistant director
Robert Villar .... second assistant director
Sound Department
Chuck Haggin .... sound
Jack C. May .... sound effects editor
Music Department
John Cacavas .... composer: theme music
Robert Mayer .... music editor
Other crew
Howard Berk .... executive story consultant
Rene .... ventriloquial figures (as René)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

60 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Finland:K-18 (2006) (DVD) (self applied)

Did You Know?

This episode is included as a bonus in the season 4 box set of "Columbo".See more »


List: Ventriloquists who have disturbing relationships with their dummies
Is this episode available on DVD?
See more »
10 out of 10 people found the following review useful.
Erich Von Stroheim, Michael Redgrave, Cliff Robertson, Jackie Cooper, Anthony Hopkins—and now Jay Johnson, in yet another ventriloquist vs. dummy tale, 19 January 2007
Author: J. Spurlin from United States

The ventriloquist Noel Abbott (Jay Johnson) is performing at a children's hospital when his dummy, Archie, begins saying unpleasant things. Archie turns slowly to his manipulator and says, "I hate you"—and the hunk of wood means it. Noel knows it's time to get help, but he doesn't seek a psychiatrist. His next stop is the home of the woodcarver Victor March (Al Ruscio), who is crestfallen to see his one-time protégé gone mad. He learns too late the young man is also homicidal. When the police show up, they have no reason to suspect this personable entertainer is the one who murdered the kindly Mr. March. But Kate Columbo (Kate Mulgrew), an intrepid reporter for a neighborhood newspaper (and the unlikely wife of Lt. Columbo from another TV series), notices a few things the police don't.

How many of these ventriloquist vs. dummy stories are there? Let's see, there's "The Great Gabbo," "Dead of Night," two different episodes of "The Twilight Zone," "Magic"—too many to mention. As these obscure old TV shows keep popping up on DVD, we'll probably find dozens of them. This one has a good twist: the ventriloquist thinks his own dummy is the killer and that Mr. March's dummy, Clown, is the witness; and he wants to silence both of them. The burial of Clown and the ventriloquist's method of "silencing" the dummies are both good ideas. Some enterprising TV writer might want to steal a couple things from this story, since this crew did nothing with it.

Jay Johnson, who toted another uncanny dummy in the TV series, "Soap," may be a fine ventriloquist, but he's only a passable actor. His performance is good only for a laugh. Kate Mulgrew is supposedly the star of this series, but she seems extraneous to this story. A quick rewrite could have removed her character and had the sergeant (Michael Durrell) figure everything out. He would have been much more likely than she to meet the killer in a basement—which is what she does in the final scene.

The makers of "Columbo" had nothing to do with this series, and it shows. With her husky voice and elegant manners, Kate Mulgrew is a young Patricia Neal type. How many people think the wife Columbo describes is a young Patricia Neal type?

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