Trawl through the #Columbo hashtag on Instagram and it won’t be long before you spy a multitude of tourists cuddling up to a familiar-looking bronze figure, striking a classic pose, raincoat as rumpled as ever, cigar safely in hand.
The statue is quite clearly Lieutenant Columbo. Dog’s there, too. But the location? Budapest, Hungary – not exactly a known hot-spot of Columbo afficionados. Little wonder, perhaps, that the good Lieutenant’s likeness is looking as confused as he’s ever done.
“If a statue of Columbo and Dog isn’t reason enough to put a trip to Budapest on your bucket list, then nothing is.”
So why is there a Columbo statue in Budapest, but not one in LA, or New York, or another part of the world with a larger fan-base and more obvious ties to the show?
Well, there is a genuine reason for it, although it’s a pretty tenuous one. According to a Hungarian urban legend (i.e. chance of it being true is about as likely as Robert Culp not exploding with rage in an episode of Columbo), Peter Falk is a distant relative of Miksa Falk, the well-known Hungarian politician, journalist and author, who lived from 1828-1908.
Although Peter Falk has some eastern European heritage, no one seems to know for sure whether there’s a genuine link between the two. Even when the statue was officially unveiled in May 2014, the Mayor of Budapest admitted there was no real evidence that Miksa and Peter had familial ties. But since when did real evidence ever get in the way of Columbo? Since never, that’s when! And that seems as good a reason as any why the Columbo statue got the thumbs up.
“With the 50th anniversary of the first airing of Prescription: Murder set for 2018, wouldn’t it be nice to see a Columbo statue unveiled in LA?”
Sculpted by Géza Feket, and said to have cost upwards of $60,000, the statue is located on Falk Miksa Street, on the eastern side of the Danube. It’s handily marked on Google Maps, so if you are a Columbo fan and you do happen to be paying a visit to what is said to be Central Europe’s most liveable city, there’s no excuse to not swing by for the obligatory photo op.
After all, if a statue of Columbo and Dog isn’t reason enough to put a trip to Budapest on your bucket list, then surely nothing is…
Where Hungary leads, others should follow. With the 50th anniversary of the first airing of Prescription: Murder set for 2018, wouldn’t it be nice to see a Columbo statue unveiled in Los Angeles to commemorate a momentous televisual milestone?
PS – I’m also active on Instagram, so if you are too, pay me a visit! I haven’t yet been able to post a snap with me at the Columbo statue, though…
I thought Peter Falk had Hungarian Jewish roots, hence the connection?
I just visited the statue two days ago at Friday. Dog’s head is shining from frequent touches. That has the meaning people still love both Columbo and Dog!
There is a life-size bronze statue of a squirrel lying flat out on its side with a tiny gun clutched in its hand a few feet behind Columbo. Why it’s there is an even bigger mystery than a statue of Columbo and Dog in Budapest.
According to what’s in the trackbacks, the statue’s in the Jewish quarter, and Falk is provably of Hungarian Jewish descent on his *mother’s* side (if teh Wiki is to be believed). Since the show was exceedingly popular according to the helpful commenters here, perhaps someone was moved to put up a commemoration of a well-loved “native son” and his adorable fictional dog. But since the ancestor was maternal, the Falk-Falk connection does seem unlikely.
Speaking as a Hungarian I suspect that the statue has more to do with the show’s enduring popularity- the alleged connection was probably just added as an excuse (after all, what city would approve a statue of a fictional character that its citizens simply LIKE?)
At the moment of me writing this, Columbo is STILL airing on TV (my parents were just watching it yesterday in fact). Given how the average Hungarians’ self-image matches up with the good lieutenant (simple honest working folk, a taste for simple joys, AND throw there some envy and suspicion towards the well-to-do as well), it’s no wonder how many find it easy to identify with Columbo.
I don’t know what you mean by larger fanbase, but here in Hungary, Columbo is VERY popular, and we have a very large fanbase. The show was among the few American series broadcast here in the 1970s and ever since, we, Hungarians have a genuine and everlasting love for the Lieutenant. In fact, the reason the statue is there, is more probably that the mayor of Budapest wanted to please the fans, rather than the rumoured Miksa Falk connection, which is more likely an excuse to erect the statue.
(P.S. I love your blog! Keep on the good work!)
I got pretty close. I was on a European package tour last year and between Prague and Vienna, we stopped for lunch in Bratislava, Slovakia, a mere 2 hours from Budapest! Hopefully LA will get its own Columbo (and hopefully Dog too) to give me another reason to re-visit the USA.
LA definitely needs a Columbo statue!
very cool info…sorry to get off the subject but I have a question for anyone out there who knows…in the episode the Conspirators. When Joe Devlin shows up at Pauleys room Columbo says he was startled because he wasnt expecting anyone. How did Devlin explain where he knew to go? Columbo didnt ask him why he was there or how he knew my only explanation after rewatching that scene several times is that they cut out part of the episode which they do a lot for ad reasons I guess….Y
I haven’t watched that episode for a couple of years, so I’m a bit hazy on the details. I’ll have to get back to you once I’ve seen it again.