Columbo (1971–2003)
20 user 7 critic

Murder, a Self Portrait 

Columbo investigates the apparent drowning of a famous painter's first wife.


James Frawley


Richard Levinson (created by), William Link (created by) | 1 more credit »

On Disc

at Amazon




Episode complete credited cast:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Patrick Bauchau ... Max Barsini
Fionnula Flanagan ... Louise
Shera Danese ... Vanessa Barsini
Isabel García Lorca Isabel García Lorca ... Julie (as Isabel Lorca)
Vito Scotti ... Vito
George Coe ... Dr. Sydney Hammer
David Byrd David Byrd ... Ralph
Don Bovingloh Don Bovingloh ... Customer
Lenny Hicks Lenny Hicks ... Morgue Attendant
Danny Hassel Danny Hassel ... Lifeguard
Roger Etienne Roger Etienne ... Night Visitor
Frank Wiltse Frank Wiltse ... Officer (as Frank L. Wiltse)
Harold Harris Harold Harris ... Harry Chudnow
Don Schneider Don Schneider ... Bystander at Beach


Max Barsini is an artist who has a most unusual living arrangement with three women. He is married to Vanessa, and Julie is his live in model. Louise is his first wife who lives next door. Max takes delight in the way they fight for his attention, but also likes to control them. So when Louise starts seeing a psychologist, Max not only fears that she will break away but also that she will reveal a secret that Max will kill to keep hidden and he does. He makes it appear that she drowned but Columbo knows something is wrong. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

25 November 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Murder, a Self Portrait See more »

Filming Locations:

Burbank, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Shera Danese is Peter Falks wife in real life See more »


At 1:02:18, Columbo lifts Dog up at a railing to look at the ocean. The camera switches to face the dog, and Columbo sets Dog on something, and Dog stands there with his paws over the rail. But there is nothing to stand on. Columbo lifts the dog down, with the camera from behind, and again there's no platform where the dog could have stood. However, there are 2 slats beneath the top railing --- the dog's hind paws could have been "propped up" on those. See more »


Vanessa Barsini: You're like a swollen house guest who eats up all the food, and while the rest of us go hungry, you complain about heartburn.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Interesting episode that isn't entirely successful
26 February 2012 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

As a longtime Columbo fan, I in general liked Murder, A Self Portrait, but I don't consider it one of the better episodes. Starting with the problems, I do agree about the ending, the character of Barsini was so strong a vast majority of the episode but the ending where he gives up all too easily I felt weakened his character. I had very mixed feelings on the dream sequences, they are stylishly shot and convincingly played but also convoluted and solved too simply. However Murder, A Self Portrait is beautifully shot with striking scenery and has an atmospheric music score. The dialogue is generally clever and thoughtful, Columbo and Barsini's scenes are fun to watch but I would've loved to have seen more of the other suspects. The story has a few patchy moments here and there and feels a little strtched towards the end, but it is briskly paced and interesting on the whole, and the acting while I have seen better with Columbo episodes is good. Peter Falk as he always is as Columbo is brilliant, and Patrick Bauchau is engaging as Barsini. The support cast don't have as much to do, but Fionnula Flannagan and particularly Shera Danese are good. All in all, an interesting and worthwhile episode, but not one of my favourites. 7/10 Bethany Cox

7 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 20 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