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Columbo star Peter Falk dies at 83

Peter Falk, the stage and movie actor who became identified as the rumpled detective Columbo in the hit series which spanned 30 years of prime-time television, has died at the age of 83.

Falk died at his Beverly Hills home on Thursday night, according to a statement released by family friend Larry Larson.

In a court document filed in December 2008, Falk's daughter Catherine Falk said her father was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Columbo began its history in 1971 as part of the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie series, appearing every third week alongside McCloud and McMillan And Wife. It became by far the most popular of the three mystery series.

Falk was reportedly paid 250,000 US dollars a movie and could have made much more if he had accepted an offer to convert Columbo into a weekly series. Columbo - he never had a first name - presented a contrast to other TV detectives. "He looks like a flood victim," Falk once said. "You feel sorry for him. He appears to be seeing nothing, but he's seeing everything. Underneath his dishevelment, a good mind is at work."

Columbo's trademark was an ancient raincoat Falk had once bought for himself. After 25 years on television, the coat became so tattered it had to be replaced.

Peter Michael Falk was born on September 16 1927, in New York City and grew up in Ossining, New York, where his parents ran a clothing store. At three he had one eye removed because of cancer.

"When something like that happens early," he said in a 1963 interview, "you learn to live with it. It became the joke of the neighbourhood. If the umpire ruled me out on a bad call, I'd take the fake eye out and hand it to him."

When Falk was starting as an actor in New York, an agent told him, "Of course, you won't be able to work in movies or TV because of your eye." Falk would later win two Oscar nominations (for Murder, Inc in 1960 and Pocketful Of Miracles in 1961) and win five Emmys.

Falk is survived by his wife Shera and his two daughters.


From Belfast Telegraph