Columbo (1971–2003)
41 user 5 critic

Last Salute to the Commodore 

Charlie Clay runs the ship building business of his father-in-law, Commodore Swanson, who turns up murdered; Lt. Columbo is on the case.


Patrick McGoohan


Jackson Gillis, Richard Levinson (created by) | 1 more credit »

On Disc

at Amazon


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?



Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Robert Vaughn ... Charles 'Charlie' Clay
Wilfrid Hyde-White ... Kittering, Esq.
John Dehner ... Commodore Otis Swanson
Dennis Dugan ... Sergeant Theodore "Mac" Albinsky
Diane Baker ... Joanna Clay
Bruce Kirby ... Sergeant George Kramer
Joshua Bryant ... Wayne Taylor
Susan Foster Susan Foster ... Lisa King
Fred Draper ... Swanny Swanson
Rod McCary ... Coast Guard Officer
John Finnegan ... Guard (as J. P. Finnegan)
Joseph Roman Joseph Roman ... Shop Foreman
Hanna Hertelendy Hanna Hertelendy ... Woman
Jerry Crews Jerry Crews ... Watchman


Charlie Clay runs a ship-building business owned by his father-in-law, Commodore Otis Swanson, who is not happy with his profiteering son-in-law's shady dealings. Nor is he pleased with any of the people closest to him, including his alcoholic daughter Joanna Clay, his elderly nephew Swanny Swanson or his lawyer Kittering. Soon the Commodore is murdered, and Charlie Clay covers it up by impersonating the Commodore, taking the corpse out on the man's yawl at night and throwing the body overboard. Lt. Columbo investigates this case with the help of a veteran sergeant and a 29-year-old novice. The rumpled, redoubtable detective knows Clay covered up the crime, but his assumption that Clay committed the crime may prove premature. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

2 March 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der alte Mann und der Tod 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 Commodore who was murdered is named Otis Swanson. In the Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Dead Ringer", the murder victim is also named Otis Swanson. Jackson Gillis is credited as the writer in that episode as well as this one. See more »


When Charles Clay drives away from Otis Swanson's house his car has wire wheels, but when he pulls up to the guard shack it has hub caps. See more »


Columbo: Commodore's watch.
Kittering, Esq.: Big deal.
See more »


Featured in Big Daddy (1999) See more »


This Old Man
Traditional English children's song/nursery rhyme.
On soundtrack in several variations at end as Columbo rows away
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A Bizarre Disjointed Episode
25 December 2014 | by abbamanic-195-198132See all my reviews

As an utter Columbo devotee I was almost shocked to watch this episode.

It revolves around the murder of an elderly ship-yard owner who has plans to sell-out to a conglomerate, to the horror of various family and friend leeches who see their meal ticket flying out the window.

Even the first cut scene to the murder location has you wondering if a chunk of tape hasn't ended up on the floor without the editors noticing.

A stellar cast including Vaughan (who starred in a previous cruise-ship murder Columbo episode) utterly fails to make this work, and Vaughan himself looks extremely uncomfortable in this outing.

The scenes are awkward, apparently ad-libbed, Falk open with a knowing self-satisfied stare when stood at the door of the Commodore's (ship-yard owner's) home as though by divine inspiration he thinks he knows who's guilty even before the killer has made his/her trademark slip-up.

Stilted dialogue, long, long awkward silences, uncomfortable character dynamics (Columbo keeps draping an arm around Vaughan in most scenes in a bizarre fashion), oddly timed cut-scenes, absence of incidental music and worst of all absence of endearing Columbo characteristics made this a cringe-worthy outing. I felt uncomfortable several times watching it.

Some reviewers will rate this quirky episode simply by virtue of it trying to be different-what that ignores is that the very appeal of Columbo, especially the 1970s outings, is its formulaic presentation. Falk is smarmy, condescending to his young detective trainee, all-knowing well before any clues have been presented...all in all it presents like a drama-class ad-libbed thrown together session. A very bad episode, possibly because it suggests the end of the Columbo series, with Columbo rowing off at the end whistling that annoying Nik-Nak Paddywhack tune (despite having a cigar clenched between his teeth!). Going by the 1980s/1990s episodes maybe it should have been the end.

When you compare this episode to the gems starring Robert Culp and Jack Cassidy, it almost poisons the entire series, and definitely feels non-canon. Fans avoid, this was bad, very very bad.

14 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 41 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

Recently Viewed