Originally, Bing Crosby was offered the role of Columbo. However, citing the fact that he didn't want to commit to a series, he refused the role. He also said, jokingly, that doing the series would interfere with his golf game.
The car driven by Columbo is a 1959 Peugeot 403 convertible. Only 504 two door convertibles were made in 1959. The original was sold when NBC dropped the series, and a replacement had to be located when ABC resumed production.
Columbo's first name is never uttered throughout the series. In one episode, however, his badge was briefly shown, listing his full name as Frank Columbo. A Canadian trivia game once claimed his first name was "Phillip". Series co-creator William Link has said that as far as he is concerned, neither one is correct and Columbo has NO first name besides "Lieutenant".
The very first episode, (aside from the two pilots) "Murder by the Book", was directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Bochco. Spielberg was never again involved with the series, through Bochco wrote several other episodes.