Columbo (1971–2003)
34 user 6 critic

Forgotten Lady 

A faded dance star of film and stage murders her husband and makes it look like a suicide; Lt. Columbo doubts her seemingly perfect alibi.


Harvey Hart


William Driskill (as Bill Driskill), Richard Levinson (created by) | 1 more credit »

On Disc

at Amazon




Episode complete credited cast:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Janet Leigh ... Grace Wheeler Willis
Maurice Evans ... Raymond
Sam Jaffe ... Dr. Henry Willis
John Payne ... Ned Diamond
Linda Gaye Scott ... Alma (as Linda Scott)
Robert F. Simon ... Dr. Westrum
Francine York ... Sgt. Leftkowitz
Ross Elliott ... Dr. Lansberg
Jerome Guardino Jerome Guardino ... Harris
Danny Wells Danny Wells ... Bookstore Clerk
Harvey Gold ... Coroner


Grace Wheeler Willis was a star, a very famous star. Every night in her house she sees one of her old movies. When she decides to set up a new show and her husband refuses to finance it, Grace coldly kills him, staging a suicide. Lt. Columbo is not deceived from her performance. But at the end, the murderer will escape her sentence, or perhaps not. Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

14 September 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

L'ultima diva 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?


The mansion used was also used in 'It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia' season 9 episode 6 'The Gang Saves The Day'. See more »


One of the reasons Columbo used to accuse Grace Wheeler of committing the crime was the time she took to watch "Walking the baby", 2+ hours instead of 1 hr 45 min, the length of the movie. It can take more than N minutes to watch a movie/video of N minutes, even back in the days before VCR and DVD.

There are many reasons that people take a break when watching a film, thus it takes a longer time to complete the viewing. Pause the film to go to the bathroom is a very good reason. Furthermore, Columbo couldn't account for the possible 11 minutes (after the tape broke) that the screen went blank, and used that as the reason that Grace stepped out to kill her husband. It's after mid-night. People can doze off while watching a film. Just because the viewing time is greater than the length of the movie, it does not mean that the viewer must have stepped out and committed a murder.

True. However, her admitting that she stepped out during the film would have given her the opportunity to commit the murder. It's not proof of guilt, but it destroys her alibi. See more »


Grace Wheeler Willis: Would you care to join us? We're running a film.
Columbo: Oh, thank you very, very much. No, I can't. This is Sunday and I promised my dog I'd take him to the park.
See more »


References Earthquake (1974) See more »


Speak Low
Music by Kurt Weill
Lyrics by Ogden Nash
Performed by Janet Leigh and John Payne
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A perfect example of what made the Columbo series so enjoyable
11 October 2005 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Grace Wheeler Willis is a former star of musicals and she longs again for the limelight and the love of her public. When her husband refuses to finance her new project, she kills him – making it look like suicide – while she sets her alibi downstairs, watching one of her old movies. The police are naturally called and Columbo takes the case despite it looking like an open and shut case. A marked book and a sleeping pill give him cause to doubt the suicide and he can't help but keep picking until he is happy that he knows what happened.

As with many TV film series (such as Perry Mason), if you like one or two of them then you'll pretty much like them all. This entry in the Columbo series pretty much follows the usual formula – we know the killer and the "perfect" plan but then watch Columbo follow his hunch and gradually starts to pick holes in the story he is told before eventually finding enough to prove his suspicions. Knowing this ahead of time won't ruin anything for you; it is simply what happens in all the films. With this strict adherence to formula it is usually down to several factors whether or not the Columbo film stands out or if it is just average. Having watched a couple of lacklustre Columbo's from the "new" series, I was so grateful for this classic entry doing all the stuff that the series is well loved for. The plot is simple enough and gives Columbo plenty to get stuck up on and pick away at. It is engaging and enjoyable on this level but it also has a nice comic vein running through it that adds to the entertainment value.

Falk is excellent. He is naturally clumsy and apparently slow (in true fashion he arrives at the murder scene half awake) but he also has other moments of sharpness and cunning – elements of his character that haven't been done as well in the newer series. Leigh is also strong albeit not in the usual "adversary" type of role. Instead she is a convincing fading star and, although she plays with Columbo, she is less cocky and her character is more interesting than it could have been. Support is good from Payne, Jaffe and Evans among others and the whole cast are pretty good value – but it is Falk's film and he does very well in it on several levels.

Overall an enjoyable Columbo film that shows all the hallmarks that made the series so successful and memorable. The plot is very good, with plenty of interest and comedy and a very good ending. The cast are all on the ball and the overall effect is to produce a really enjoyable film that fans will love and new viewers will easily get into.

17 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 34 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed