Opinion / Tribute

Gone but not forgotten: remembering the life of Peter Falk

Remembering Peter Falk

Gone but not forgotten. Since his death on 23rd June, 2011, Peter Falk continues to hold a large part of the hearts of millions of fans. He remains a pop culture icon, thanks in no small part to his work on Columbo.

I like to to take some time each June and September to remember what he brought to the world. It’s hard to come up with new ways of paying my respects to Peter, but in this article I thought I’d share some of my favourite images and videos of the great man throughout his life. I’ve put these forward because they’re ones that I think show off his charm and character, as well as a few of his greatest hits and variety of his work. And, naturally, Columbo looms large amongst them. I keep adding new images to this gallery as more and more lovely images come to my attention. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.
Peter Falk aged 3
Peter with his bike aged 3, circa 1931
Young Peter

Young Peter – perhaps 10?

Falk Oscar

Peter in the role of Abe Reles in 1960’s Murder Inc – the film that really put him on the map

Peter and Alyce
Peter Falk and his first wife, Alyce, at the Academy Awards, April 1962. Peter was up for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Pocketful of Miracles.
Peter Falk 1965 Peter looking totally cool in 1965.
Peter Falk Jack Lemmon
Starring alongside Jack Lemmon in The Great Race in 1965.
Peter Falk Natalie Wood
Peter with Natalie Wood, during the filming of Penelope in 1966
Peter Falk Luv

Alongside Elaine May in 1967 promotional photo for the movie Luv

Peter Falk 1968
We all recognise this one: a not-too-shabby looking younger Columbo from 1968’s Prescription: Murder.
Peter and Catherine

Playing ball with daughter Catherine

Falk, Gazzara, Cassavetes Peter with great friends Ben Gazzara and John Cassavetes during filming of Husbands, 1970

One of the iconic production stills from ‘Husbands’, 1970

Peter Falk Steven Spielberg Peter relaxes with a young Steven Spielberg during the filming of Murder by the Book in 1971

Eight months after they teamed up in Ransom For a Dead Man, Peter Falk and Lee Grant starred in ‘The Prisoner of Second Avenue‘ on Broadway


Sharing a joke with Dagger of the Mind co-star Bernard Fox in 1972

Crucial stadium

Alone at the LA Coliseum in 1972’s Columbo The Most Crucial Game

Peter’s Emmy Award acceptance speech from 1972 is legendary!

Falk Caan

Hanging with James Caan in the mid-70s. What a cool pair!


On the set of Columbo, circa 1973

Peter Falk Martin Landau Could this be Columbo’s single greatest scene? Peter having a whale of a time with Martin Landau during the ad-libbed cookery scene in Double Shock from 1973

Rocking the Oscars as an award presenter in 1974


Peter Falk image from the February 1974 issue of Photoplay magazine

Dan Wynn archive

Magnificent portrait of Peter from the Dan Wynn archive

Peter Falk Gena Rowlands Publicity photo of Peter Falk and Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence in 1974

Peter Falk talks Columbo with Johnny Carson in 1974

Jack Nicolson

Peter with Jack Nicolson and Michelle Phillips, sometime in the 1970s

Cool Falk

Peter looking gorgeous in his casual outfit in 1974


Delightful publicity shot for Columbo, mid 70s

Peter Falk golf The coolest 70s golfer of them all?
Peter Falk Jessica Walter Peter plants a smacker on Columbo co-star Jessica Walter after their joint Emmy success in May 1975.
Murder by Death

Alongside Truman Capote and David Niven in 1976’s Murder by Death


Looking utterly loveable in Inspector Lucerne’s hat in Fade In To Murder in 1976


Wearing the Columbo mac on the streets of Paris during a 1976 promotional tour for A Woman Under the Influence


Talking ‘Columbo’ on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, May 1977

Peter Falk and Shera Danese Peter with Shera Danese at a party in LA in June 1977 – a few months before their wedding.
Peter and Shera Utterly delightful image of Peter Falk and Shera Danese, circa 1978.

Lookin’ slick in a tux in 1978’s Murder Under Glass

Peter Falk Hair premiere
Peter plays up to the cameras on the red carpet at the Premiere of ‘Hair’ in 1979.

Peter having a hoot in what appears to be a mobile home, late 1970s. Could he BE having any more fun?

Peter Falk Kermit the Frog Peter starring alongside Kermit the Frog in 1981’s The Great Muppet Caper.
Peter's cameo in the Ghostbusters music video from 1984. Peter’s cameo in the Ghostbusters music video from 1984.
Columbo 1985

Fooling around on a night out in Noo Yoik, 1985


Just hanging out at home in LA, 1990s


Columbo the silver fox from 2000’s Murder With Too Many Notes

Peter and dogs

At home with Shera and the dogs, 2000s

Peter Falk Mr T Legends! Peter Falk and Mr T at NBC’s 75th anniversary press lunch in April 2002.

What a boss! At home with a cigar, 2000s

Walk of Fame

Peter was posthumously awarded a Hollywood Walk of Fame star in July 2013

columbo statue budapest

Awesome tribute: statues of Columbo and Dog were unveiled in Budapest, Hungary, in May 2014. Every city should have one…

Of course there are a million more I could have put forward, but these represent some great highlights from the life of a fine and much-loved man, who is with us in spirit as much as ever.

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What’s your favourite memory of Peter? Were you lucky enough to meet him? Let me know in the comments section below. And thanks, as always, for reading. Last Salute to the Commodore closing scene
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31 thoughts on “Gone but not forgotten: remembering the life of Peter Falk

  1. Thank you for this post, i love columbo. Like you, i prefer the earlier episodes although there is a charm to the later episodes also. A true star with a naughty sexy look, loved peter falk in the never ending story as the grandad reading the story. Loved and not forgotten, columbo is timeless and so glad i can watch episodes over & over. His was the first dvd box set i ever bought.

  2. I was honored to have been apart of the camera dept. that filmed Peter Falk’s last film, American Cowslip. His character was opposite Val Kilmer, Diane Ladd, Bruce Dern, Cloris Leachman. I would love to share a few photos from the set i grabbed.

  3. I’m surprised that Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood, his three co-stars from “The Great Race” were never guest-murderers on Columbo. If anyone knows why each of them never were, I’d love to hear any stories regarding this.

    I’m aware that Tony Curtis’ ex-wife Janet Leigh was a guest-murderer, though it was long after they were divorced. By the way, I always thought that was very well done, the way they used actual footage of her singing and dancing from 1953 in “Walking My Baby Back Home” that she had made with Donald O’Connor.

    But I digress. What I’m really interested in is why Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood never guested. On IMDB, if you go to the webpage for “The Great Race” and click on the movie poster, there are 148 photos, many of them off-camera, and the four of them look to be very good friends, and Peter Falk always seemed to be very loyal to his friends. Hence, I can’t understand why we were deprived of what would have surely been outstanding Columbo episodes with the three of them, particularly Jack Lemmon, with whom he had such great chemistry as Professor Fate and Max.

  4. Truly excellent photos. Thanks a bunch. Aside from Columbo, my favorite Peter Falk appearances were “Murder by death” and when he, Ben Gazarra, and John Cassavetes showed up drunk as a skunk and frightened the milquetoast Dick Cavett on his dreary talkshow in the ’70’s. It was the most exciting thing that ever happened on Dick’s show, if not his entire timid life.

    Sadly, they just don’t make ’em like Mr. Falk anymore. So glad his work (and play) will be preserved as a ‘celluloid hero’ for eternity. (forgive the Ray Davies/Kinks reference)



  5. Hi, I loved looking at these photos. I love Columbo and watch every week. There are usually 3 episodes played on 5usa channel on a Sunday in the UK and an episode on ITV3 on a Saturday. I will have to check out more of Peter’s films. I remember he had a small part in Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

  6. I was at Riviera Country Club following the Pros at the LA Open when I saw Peter Falk and followed him around the rest of the day..He was a fine golfer and very personable with the crowd…After the 18th hole he walked up to the Clubhouse and gave a short interview with a reporter…When asked where he would like to go, he looked at me and smiled and said Marrakech, which made my day…Great person, I think of him and grin, and tonight is COLOMBO…

  7. Thanks so much for putting the effort into this page and posts. This is one Canadian who in loving Columbo but I have to admit, I’ve never seen PF in anything but Columbo. Now I have a new summer to do list. We don’t get Columbo on Netflix in Canada but I bought up every DVD years ago and watch them over and over.

    • Check him out in The Brink’s Job. I watched him film this on the Streets of Boston. he was a terrific guy.
      Gianni c.

  8. Peter Falk was on The Tonight Show at least one other time, previewing the episode, The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case, although he mischaracterized the puzzle involving finding the counterfeit gold.

  9. Pingback: Gone but not forgotten: remembering the life of Peter Falk – Bríd Boland Writer

  10. Wonderful post and lovely photos–many thanks. My favorite Pete Falk work is in “Columbo”, but very much enjoyed him in “The Great Race” in my childhood “Push the button Max!” My mother, Rosina, an actress, worked with him in the 2002 film “Three Days of Rain” and told him she would never forget him in the 1962 show “The Price of Tomatoes”, she told him she couldn’t take her eyes off him and nearly burned a hole in the shirt she was ironing while watching. He winked at her and said no one’s mentioned that show in many years and gave her a big hug when filming wrapped.

    • Great story! I was at a movie gathering earlier this year when I saw “The In-Laws” for the first time. Definitely prefer Columbo!

  11. As Tony Pino on The Brink’s Job,a movie that I wish it was shown more often last time I watched it must have been before Y2K

  12. I had the great fortune of seeing Peter on Broadway in Neil Simon’s “Prisoner of Second Avenue” in January 1972. It was during Columbo’s first season, and the play reunited Peter with his “Ransom for a Dead Man” co-star Lee Grant. It remains the funniest Broadway performance I’ve ever seen.

  13. Thank you for the great pictures. It says a lot about an actor when his made for TV movies are still being watched 45 years later on Netflix by a new generation. I will be honest I am not a fan of the second Mrs Falk’s acting and I cringe when she appears in the later Columbo episodes. That being said, they look like they were happy together. You have to wonder what his acting friends thought of her.

  14. What a great collection of photos! You picked some really nice shots here. And I can’t get over the fact that, for the first time in a while, I dialed up a classic Columbo on Netflix tonight (also have every season on DVD), not even realizing it was the anniversary. Good post!

  15. This was just lovely. I got a little misty as I scrolled through all of those pictures. I really love the TV Guide cover you posted. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that!

    As much as I love Columbo, my favorite PF memory is probably seeing Griffin and Phoenix with my dad when I was a kid. I only caught the end, but later in life that film would become very important to me, and it always reminds me of my father.


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