Columbo (1971–2003)
19 user 5 critic

Ashes to Ashes 

After a much maligned Hollywood gossip columnist is murdered by her former lover, Columbo tries to find a way to prove he was responsible for the crime.


Patrick McGoohan


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

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Patrick McGoohan ... Eric Prince
Rue McClanahan ... Verity Chandler
Richard Riehle ... Sergeant Degarmo
Spencer Garrett ... Roger Gambles
Aubrey Morris ... Fred
Edie McClurg ... Mrs. Lerby
Richard Libertini ... Sheik Yarami
Ron Masak ... Eddie Fenelle (as Ron Másak)
Catherine McGoohan ... Rita
Scott N. Stevens Scott N. Stevens ... Gerald
Sally Kellerman ... Liz Houston
Conrad Bachmann ... Henry Chalfont (as Conrad Bachman)
Ken Weiler ... Singer
Sid Burston ... Driver


Hollywood gossip reporter, Verity Chandler is planning her next expose. Which is to reveal how famed mortician, Eric Prince built his empire. When she reveals to Prince her plans he kills her. He then places her in the casket of a man scheduled to be cremated. And cremates her. He then goes to her house and changes the story she was working on to make it seem someone else wanted to get her. When no one hears from her, the police are called in and Lt. Columbo is on the job. Eentually he learns that she went to a funeral at Prince's and talks to him. And he finds his behavior odd. Written by

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TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

8 October 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Aschenpuzzle See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The mortuary exterior setting was filmed at the Laury's Restaurant Garden Center and Retail Shop located in Glendale. The facility had been closed by the Laury's management, remaining vacant for a year, when the "Columbo" production team surveyed the site for the film's mortuary exterior location. The Spanish themed facility had a huge parking area adjacent to the building's main entrance providing an area for a helicopter to land, and to lift off. The parking area was clear of overhead telephone and electric wires, no palm trees, nor planting that would obstruct a pilot maneuvering a helicopter into the landing site. The buildings' interiors were impractical for filming. The art department added mortuary signs; plugged the central entrance arcade with a double door entrance which was matched on the Universal Studio stage mortuary interior foyer set; restoring landscaping to the sites grounds with shrubs, palms, and flowering plants. Filming scenes involving the helicopter were done at the site; one scene which required the helicopter to hover above the ground camera crew's angle shot of Sally Kellerman opening a cremation urn to scatter ashes in the wind. Not anticipating the back draft wind, when Sally opened the prop to dump sand, the dust and sand whipped back up into the helicopter and all over Sally! Another aerial helicopter sequence was filmed over the actual "Hollywood" sign with Sally Kellerman dumping the sand out of the prop urn. Creative license allowed the illegal dump! Only on a "Columbo"!!! See more »


A pager (also known as a beeper) is a wireless telecommunications device that receives and displays alphanumeric messages and/or receives and announces voice messages. One-way pagers can only receive messages, while response pagers and two-way pagers can also acknowledge, reply to, and originate messages using an internal transmitter. See more »


Columbo: [being bodily hauled off by two men] Hey! Hey, I'm a cop! I'm a cop, you monkeys!
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References The Young and the Restless (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

Reflective, gently humorous story
19 August 2015 | by Leofwine_dracaSee all my reviews

ASHES TO ASHES is one of the last Columbo movies made before Peter Falk retired from the role (I think there were only two subsequent stories filmed). It's not great, but it acts well as a kind of 'celebratory' piece of all things Columbo. Hell, you even get Patrick McGoohan returning to the series for what would be the sixth and final time over the years, in a capacity of both guest star and director, so that's reason to watch alone.

McGoohan plays a funeral director who spends most of his time hanging out at his crematorium, so there's plenty of ghoulish humour evident throughout the production. The way he kills off a rival and subsequently covers up the crime is unique to say the least, and direction-wise he shoots a story that's never less than interesting.

At the same time, it's not exactly a stellar effort; there's an odd, jokey tone to the whole thing and Falk's portrayal of the titular gumshoe is at odds with what we see elsewhere. Columbo seems genuinely befuddled at some points and you can't help but feel the weight of years catching up with the old-time star. Still, ASHES TO ASHES is never less than a perfectly acceptable slice of TV mystery, if not perhaps up there with the best COLUMBO had to offer.

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