Friday, 24 June 2011

Peter Falk R.I.P.

I am saddened this evening to hear of the passing of the great Peter Falk aka Columbo.
Peter Falk as Columbo(Rex)

According to reports, he died on Thursday night at his home in Beverly Hills.

Family members have so far declined to discuss the cause of death.

However, he had been suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease, according to his adopted daughter, Catherine Falk.

The archetypal man in a raincoat, Lieutenant Columbo is a creation that straddles the hard-boiled private detective genre of the 1930s and the modern-day TV investigator.

In terms of influence, there are few other TV detectives that can hold a candle to him, and none that can crack a case as thoroughly.

He remains utterly unique. ITV continues to air Columbo and millions continue to enjoy.

The man behind the shambolic, yet steely Lieutenant was actor Peter Falk. Born in New York City.

It's fair to say that throughout his life, Peter Falk built his career on his innate acting skills rather than his looks. Depression was starting to exert its grip, Falk's father was Hungarian-Polish and his mother was Russian. Peter Falk fell into acting at an early age, appearing in a stage production of The Pirates of Penzance before reaching his teenage years. This course was perhaps first set for him when, at just three years of age, he had to have his right eye removed due to a malignant tumour. However at Ossining High School, the young actor became better known for his sporting prowess than his stage presence.

After leaving school, Falk was knocked back for service in World War II due to his glass eye. But undeterred and with an appetite for action, he served as a cook in the United States Merchant Marine.

After a year or so in what turned out to be a less exciting job than imagined, he returned to the US and tried unsuccessfully to join the CIA. Instead, he had to settle for the job of management analyst with the Connecticut State Budget Bureau.

And there he stayed until his 29th year, all the while performing in his spare time with community theatre group the Mark Twain Masquers.

Eventually, the momentous decision was made to quit the day job. As the 1950s drew to a close, Falk prepared to join the breadline with all the other aspirant stage actors.

Just one more thing, Peter Falk - wherever there are TVs, there will be Columbo.

Peter Falk, actor, born 16 September 1927; died 23 June, 2011

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