Columbo (1971–2003)
28 user 6 critic

Swan Song 

A gospel singer wants to be rid of his zealous wife. But a murder made to look like an airplane accident does not fool the wily Lt. Columbo.


Nicholas Colasanto


David Rayfiel (teleplay by), Stanley Ralph Ross (story by) | 2 more credits »

On Disc

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Johnny Cash ... Tommy Brown
Ida Lupino ... Edna Basket Brown
John Dehner ... Roland Pangborn
Sorrell Booke ... J.J. Stringer
Bill McKinney ... Luke Basket
Vito Scotti ... Mr. Grindell
Janit Baldwin ... Tina
John Randolph ... Colonel Mayehoff
Lucille Meredith Lucille Meredith ... Jean the seamstress
Richard Caine ... Bennett
Don Mantooth Don Mantooth ... Phil (as Donald Mantooth)
Jefferson Kibbee Jefferson Kibbee ... Frank
Bonnie Van Dyke Bonnie Van Dyke ... Maryann Cobb
Douglas Dirkson Douglas Dirkson ... Jeff the airport mechanic (as Doug Dirkson)


A popular folk singer's plane has crashed. Two passengers have died, and one has escaped with minor injuries. Was it really an accident? How could it not have been? Or, was it really a nearly perfect murder? Columbo is called in to find out. Written by Cindy

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

3 March 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Il canto del cigno See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Johnny Cash has a younger brother named Tommy. See more »


The cabin heater in the aircraft being flown is operated by pulling a mechanical knob. Tommy Brown turns off the heater with a switch. The switch appears to be one appropriate for the aircraft, relabeled from some other function. See more »


Tommy Brown: You got a good ear for music.
Lt. Columbo: Well, you know I'm Italian.
See more »


I Saw the Light
Written by Hank Williams
Performed by Johnny Cash
See more »

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User Reviews

A guitar, a thermos flask and a home-made parachute....
15 September 2004 | by The Welsh Raging BullSee all my reviews

Johnny Cash's limited acting ability is remarkably offset by his semi-autobiographical portrayal of a gospel crusader who wishes to use half of the concert earnings to finance his lavishly reckless lifestyle, rather than plough all of the monies into building an ornate tabernacle. His blackmailing wife and one very young concert group member are killed off so that his reputation remains unblemished and his lifestyle can be maintained.

Everything you would want in a Columbo story is in evidence here: a refreshingly original, well-thought-out plot with an ingeniously conceived "murder" scenario; a very tightly structured script with each scene leading on nicely from the last; circumstantial clues which are clever and instinctively-developed; an abundance of well-crafted scenes between a typically persistent Columbo and a relatively self-assured murderer which have a progressive intensity about them; and well-timed injections of humour.

A crackerjack Columbo episode, that is all the better for making it look like the murderer has won(nb: the marvelous airport scene); and for not being sentimental when Columbo pities the murderer. Almost flawless in its conception and execution, this must be one of the top-three Columbo episodes.

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