Columbo is an old TV show about a Homicide cop with no first name (played by Peter Falk) who pretends to be autistic so criminals don't suspect that he's actually a genius cop. He has a fake eye that really adds to the "harmless retarded cop" vibe.

Much like Heath Ledger, Peter Falk got so deep into his big role as Columbo that he became convinced he really WAS mentally-handicapped. He's still alive, has Alzheimer's and poops himself. Too bad he isn't dating Mary-Kate Olsen, because this story needs an ending!

Just The Facts

  1. The character first appeared on TV in 1960 but didn't get his own show until 1971, for which Peter Falk gouged out an eye to get the part.
  2. His car, a 1959 Peugeot 403 Cabriolet, was one of only 504 ever made. Having one eye and no depth perception, he ran it into random things throughout the series.
  3. He repeatedly claims there's a Mrs. Columbo, but no one ever actually sees her. Hmm.....

Columbo, before Peter Falk played him

Long before Peter Falk brought this amazing, multifaceted character to life and shambled into the hearts of TV audiences who realistically had like 3 channels and not many choices anyway, Columbo was played by some even-less-important guys.

In 1960, the character of Lieutenant Columbo was played by Bert Freed in an episode of The Chevy Mystery Show. Someone saw it and said, "A homeless-looking, unintelligent cop.....this screams out to be made into a stage play," and proceeded to make the 1962 stage play but replace Bert Freed with another nobody named Thomas Mitchell. But you know what? America couldn't handle Columbo in 1962; he was so revolutionary that the entertainment industry had to patiently wait another 6 years before making the TV movie they were dying to make.

Who to cast in the lead role, though? Simple. A relatively young and most-likely homeless Peter Falk rushed into the audition room and used a spork (Did they have those then? Who cares? It makes this more exciting to read) to pop his eye out dramatically. It reportedly made a sound like a Tupperware container being opened. Impressed by his dedication, the producers gave him a polite golf-clap.

Finally, finally, the world would receive the Columbo they deserved....

Peter Falk as Columbo

In 1968, some Columbo movie was made for TV, starring Peter Falk; you may have guessed this from the strong foreshadowing in the previous section. After 3 more years, probably filled with intense contract negotiations, the Columbo TV series began. That means 1971, if you suck at math....and if you care enough to read a Columbo page, well let's just say things look bad for your intelligence level.

The series ran from 1971 to 1978. As mentioned previously, there weren't a lot of options in the 70's. People seemed to love the character, who was known for:

* Having a fake eye

* "Shambling" a lot, which your guess is as good as ours what that means

* You'll love this! He's referred to a lot as having "a keen eye for details." Really.

* Dressing like a homeless man

* Acting impossibly stupid when interrogating people, then returning to say, "One more question," and ask some really awesome question.

So basically, America loved having someone to feel superior to. If you feel sentimental, sit through this weepy ode to Columbo. Don't worry if you end up laughing at him...he has Alzheimer's and doesn't even recognize his own family, so he sure won't be hurt by you laughing at him now.

Now get ready for this: a commercial for an episode of Columbo written by Steven Bochco and directed by Steven Spielberg. It features shambling, a lady with a horse-mouth, some dude looking smarmy, and other tantalizing details......

The show had a bunch of "famous" guest stars who you don't recognize unless you were born before 1970, so why bother listing them?

Peter Falk as sufferer of dementia AND Alzheimer's

As if being known for that role wasn't a cosmic curse on Peter Falk, God saw fit to really kick him while he was down.

Alzheimer's! BAM!

Oh, here, have a sprinkling of dementia..... (sprinkle sprinkle)

Or so the story goes. Falk seems to not remember playing Columbo because of the Alzheimer's and also maybe because of the dementia. Two different convenient memory-fucking-up conditions at once? Sounds kind of fishy, by which we mean it's total BS. You can claim to forget playing Columbo, but we have Wikipedia and we'll never forget!!!!!

This was a really funny joke and if you're old and didn't want to squint at the caption (or young and have ADHD so you skimmed past it) you probably missed it, so we'll repeat it:

If only he'd hooked up with Mary-Kate Olsen, this pathetic situation could have been avoided and he could be in a grave by now.