Columbo (1971–2003)
24 user 5 critic

Old Fashioned Murder 

The spinster head of a family-run museum murders her brother when he threatens to dissolve the financially strapped institution.


Robert Douglas


Peter S. Feibleman (teleplay by), Peter S. Fischer (story by) (as Lawrence Vail) | 2 more credits »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Joyce Van Patten ... Ruth Lytton
Jeannie Berlin ... Janie Brandt
Tim O'Connor ... Edward Lytton
Celeste Holm ... Phyllis Lytton Brandt
Peter S. Feibleman Peter S. Feibleman ... Milton Shaeffer
Jon Miller Jon Miller ... Sgt. Miller
Jess Osuna Jess Osuna ... Dr. Tim Shaeffer
Anthony Holland ... Darryl
Lucy Saroyan Lucy Saroyan ... Elise
Gary Krawford Gary Krawford ... Watch Salesman
Eloise Hardt Eloise Hardt ... Cathy - Maid
Morris Buchanan ... 2nd Detective
Giles Douglas Giles Douglas ... Photographer


The Lytton family owns a museum. Siblings Ruth and Edward (curator and trustee, respectively) have devoted their lives to it, but with things not going so well, Edward has decided to sell it. Ruth doesn't agree and plans otherwise (the old-fashioned way). She has a niece, Janie, whom she loves more than her mother does, who has hired Milton Schaeffer, a petty thief and inveterate gambler (and the brother of her (Janie's) lover), as their new security guard. With a subsequent double-homicide on hand utilizing these details, Columbo delves into the family's personal history to help unravel spinster Ruth's ruthless scheme. Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia / with additional information by statmanjeff

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

28 November 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bei Einbruch Mord 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?


Joyce Van Patten, who plays Ruth Lytton in this episode, was also in the Season 4 episode "Negative Reaction," in which she played the Nun (Sister of Mercy). See more »


Supposedly the burglar is shot by the accountant who is shot in return. Columbo listens to the inventory tape many times but listens to the answering machine tape only once. If the two men shot each other at nearly the same time, the answering machine (fake) message would have two gunshots to account for the dual deaths. It had only one. Columbo failed to pick up on this (even if to consider simultaneous gunfire). See more »


Columbo: You know, when I say "Homicide Department," most women, they act a little upset, so I try and calm 'em with a little chit-chat. I've been doing that for so long that I forgot to notice that you weren't upset. Forgive me for wandering off.
Ruth Lytton: I've disappointed you. My sister won't. You needn't even bother saying "homicide." "Foul play" will do it. She faints.
See more »


This Old Man
English folk children's counting song.
Whistled by Peter Falk
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User Reviews

one of the best
9 September 2004 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

This is one of the best Columbos. You can't beat the cast, the storyline, or anything about it. I can't be as erudite as the other poster, so I'll just say I loved it.

The cast is top notch - Joyce van Patten, Jeannie Berlin, Tim O'Connor and Celeste Holm, who is a riot. "I am not without influence, Lieutenant Columbus!" And a line I use myself even today: "I have told you, I cannot leave a room without a man to escort me." That line gets a neat twist at the end of the movie.

Joyce Van Patten, Holm and O'Connor are all family members who own a museum.

It's Van Patten's whole life, but it's a money pit and O'Connor wants to get rid of it. There lies the conflict.

I highly recommend this particular Columbo.

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