Season 1

Can anyone solve this real-life Columbo mystery?

Columbo Suitable for Framing nude model

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.
Suitable for Framing model

The sweet model helped make this scene a total winner!

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.
Columbo Lady in Waiting mystery girl

How can this two-time Columbo actress remain totally unknown?

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! Columbo mystery model 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!


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175 thoughts on “Can anyone solve this real-life Columbo mystery?

  1. Watching old Star Trek tonight, saw Celeste Yarnall in episode “The Apple” and thought she was a possibility. Sadly, she passed away in 2018. However, turns out she was in a 1971 Columbo “Ransom for a Dead Man” so maybe that increases the chances this is she.

     
  2. Am I correct in saying that the female cop in Suitable, brought in by Columbo to the scene of the crime, isn’t credited either? Is it known who she is?

     
  3. Has anyone suggested Chris Noel? She was active around that time — mostly in small roles — has the right general look, eye colour, and body type… and shares the name of the character!

     
    • Based on appearance, this is one of the better suggestions I’ve seen on this thread. She’s still alive according to IMDB, so if anyone can dig up contact information, maybe she’d respond.

       
  4. Dennis ruckner who played the parking boy Joey is still alive (oh yeah the guy who gave me 2bucks) now he was a young red blooded man at the time and would surely remember a pretty woman like that on the set with him

     
  5. I was just watching a short film from 1968 called “Star Spangled Salesmen,” a promotion for a scheme the US Treaury had to sell savings bonds to the public. From 6:02 to 6:12, a blonde girl walks across the screen. She looks quite a bit like this actress. Wikipedia and Internet Movie Database identify her as Alexandra Hay. The video on Vimeo may not be high enough quality to identify her, but here’s a link to it:

     
    • Oh sorry, I just went to the Older Comments and found that someone had already named Alexandra Hay, while someone else had denied it was her. If it isn’t her in this episode of Columbo, it might not be her in “Star Spangled Salesman,” either- the girl in that film looks a lot like the model in Suitable for Framing, and the part is uncredited.

       
    • After another look at “Star Spangled Salesman,” I’m convinced it is the same woman, and that she isn’t Alexandra Hay. Don’t know if that helps!

       
      • Imho, the woman in Star Spangled Salesman is Alexandra Hay, but Alexandra Hay isn’t the woman in Columbo. For science, I purchased the issue of Playboy with Alexandra Hay and am pretty sure about both conclusions.

         
    • The woman in the Columbo episode has blue eyes, while it looks like Alexandra Hay’s are light brown.

       
        • I still contend that it was the friend of a producer., executive, etc. Either way, “Columbo” was notoriously cheap when crediting actors, often dubbing in dialogue or having actors such as Mike Lally go uncredited after speaking dialogue that made final cut.

           
        • That’s been my assumption too Tim. I took some time looking up the show’s producers and their girlfriends a while back, as you might guess I didn’t find much! Speaking of Mike Lally, Mike’s son was in a bunch of episodes and is still among us here on earth, he might be one of the last people capable of matching the face with a name. maybe columbophile.com did an interview with Lally’s son, thought i saw one over the years?

           
  6. On a similar line, I have always been curious about who’s the actress that played Janice Caldwell in “A friend in deed”. She too is not credited. Anybody has any ideas?

     
  7. This is one of my favorite episodes. The gotcha at the end with the gloves is amazing.(Even through a wax orange falls on the floor) This is also something I refer to as a “double murder” episode.

    There are episodes where the murderer, feeling Columbo’s presence, commits a second murder. Here it’s Tracy the young accomplice. Leonard Nimoy kills Harry Alexander. Jack Cassidy kills Mrs LeSenc on the boat, there are many. I always felt that Colombo always had an extra passion to catch these people. He was like “you killed someone, and I get that, but then you went and killed some other innocent person, now I really have to catch you”.

    Also, this episode contains one of the a great Planet of the Apes connection. With Aunt Edna, she was Zira. Other episodes contained Maurice Evans, Janet Leigh’s stuffy butler, Dr Zaius, and Rodney McDowall, Cornelius was rigging cigar boxes.

    I would love to see an article looking into all the double murder episodes, I find them fascinating. You can exclude the Commodore episode, I don’t think anyone will miss that mess.

    Keep up the great work. And I’m going to poke a few LA peeps I know to see if we can track this actress down.

     
    • Would it be possible that a journalist wrote a small (online) article about this for a (local) newspaper? If so, it would be possible to put this mystery on wikipedia. At the moment people remove it because it is not sourced with an article (they do not allow an online blog as a source, sadly enough).

       
  8. Still trying to find out who the exotic dancer in blue was in Identity Crisis. She was just perfect.

     
  9. I have read somewhere that the same actress was also the shop assistant in Lady in Waiting, but is this the case?

     

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