Every episode of Columbo features a mystery. However, as we know, the Lieutenant is well capable of solving the trickiest of cases, leaving no questions unanswered. But there’s a real-life Columbo mystery that remains unresolved more than 45 years on.
Simply put: who is the above-pictured beautiful actress, who played a small but notable part in Suitable for Framing back in 1971? The alluring blonde was seen briefly at Sam Franklin’s art show, swigging Champagne at a table in the presence of famous art critic Dale Kingston, among several others.
“The mystery girl certainly made an impression on the episode, despite her appearance being little more than a cameo.”
And the next day we see her again, this time wearing far fewer clothes, as the nude model who so abashes Columbo when he drops by to question Franklin about what Kingston was doing at the time of the crime.
I always really enjoyed her performance here. As well as good-naturedly greeting the Lieutenant, she gives as good as she gets to the grouchy artist when he gives her grief. And when Columbo awkwardly shuffles away, she allows herself a sneaky glance after him with an enigmatic look suggestive that she’d taken a shine to the scruffy little detective.
She certainly made an impression on the episode, despite her appearance being little more than a cameo.
So who is this actress? We know that the character’s name was Chris, but it was an uncredited role. The same actress also appeared briefly in the series’ next episode, Lady in Waiting, where she looked rather more orange and was helping Beth Chadwick shop til she dropped in the ladies’ fashion store.
We know lots of people who it isn’t, despite some claims made online. It’s not Sharon Tate (she was dead by then, folks). Not Cybill Shepherd. Not Patricia Mattick. Not Shera Danese. Not Joanna Pettet.
For a time I thought it might have been former Bond Girl Shirley Eaton, who would have been about the right age at the time (34). She looks similar, but I can’t find any proof, and I tend to think it’s not her. For one thing she retired from acting in 1969 to raise a family. Plus she was living in Britain. No, it’s not Shirley.
But one truth remains: someone played the role, and someone out there must know who it is! I’ve even been in touch with the Screen Actors Guild in America to seek guidance on how one might go about identifying an uncredited actor. A reasonable question to ask such a respected body, no?
However, the useless bunch essentially came back with a ‘NO COMMENT’ response rather than take the opportunity to educate a layman on how to go about an innocent project without they themselves impinging on their members’ privacy.
To say I was disappointed with the response was an understatement and when I (politely) urged them to reconsider their position and try to be a modicum more helpful, I never heard back from them again. THANKS FOR NOTHING, SCREEN ACTORS GUILD!
Despite the ‘CAN’T DO’ attitude of the Guild, I believe that together we can get to the bottom of this. I will personally send a genuine 1970s’ Columbo film poster to the first person who provides definitive proof of who this actress is. So if you know someone who knows someone, who once knew someone who walked dogs for showbiz types in LA, then put out the word to them.
Together we’ll crack this mystery for once and for all! The good-humoured mystery model deserves nothing less.
Enjoy the legendary scene in full HD below!