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Columbo’s most handsome devils

Handsome montage lead

One of the many joys of watching Columbo was seeing the short, scruffy Lieutenant thrust into the lives of the beautiful people. And how beautiful they were!

And not just the ladies, of course. Columbo was packed with eligible bachelors, hot hunks and devilishly handsome men living it up and making the absolute most of their natural charms. And it is these finely turned-out chaps I pay tribute to today.

If you didn’t already know, this is part two of the double header which started with last week’s look at Columbo’s loveliest ladies. My thanks to all the Twitterati who contributed to the original debate that lead to these posts being put together. Your input was invaluable, not to mention thoroughly enjoyable.

This handsome bunch has been selected based on how dishy they appear in their designated episode, which means sadly no place for Louis Jourdan or Sal Mineo, despite them being incredibly beautiful men in their youth.

If you can handle that slight, please read on with confidence. These dashing chaps are listed in no particular order, except for the top three…

Eric Wagner – The Most Crucial Game (1972)

Eric Wagner Columbo Most Crucial Game

He’s a millionaire playboy with a rock star attitude, sporty physique and hair to die for. What’s not to like (casual attitude towards ‘chicks’ aside)? Plus, black silk sheets! Mrrrrow!

Yes, before he was lumped over the head with a block of ice, young Eric seemed to be living the life of Riley – even managing to convince his shapely wife that he wasn’t fooling around behind her back.

Ken Franklin – Murder by the Book (1971)


Not to everyone’s taste, but what Ken Franklin may lack in classic good looks, he more than makes up for with an irresistible joie de vivre, dashing style, devilishly cute dimples and silver-tongued charm by the shed-load.

Just picture Ken schmoozing in a social setting, glass of Champers in hand. His animal magnetism would ensure that women wanted him while men wanted to be him. And he’d doubtless walk out with a mystery blonde on his arm to have his very wicked way with…

Dr Ray Flemming – Prescription: Murder (1968)

Ray Fleming 2

Not a choice for millenials, perhaps, but for viewers of a certain age Gene Barry’s Dr Ray Flemming ticked many boxes, being erudite, wealthy, sophisticated, witty and immaculately attired. Indeed, he may be the best-dressed male Columbo killer of all.

There’s something of the George Clooney about Barry, who aged exceptionally well. Hence it’s believable that his many attributes were enough to bewitch red-haired beauty Joan Hudson, and convince her to play along with his dastardly schemes.

“Dr Flemming had many positives being erudite, sophisticated, witty and immaculately attired.”

Dr Bart Keppell – Double Exposure (1973)

cde_087Exposure 1

Good old Dr Keppell. Here’s a global thought leader and marketing mastermind who looks as good rocking the casual yellow jacket at the supermarket as he does dressed to the nines in a killer suit (pun 1 zillion per cent intended).

A Robert Culp killer always had bags of style, but bad Bart Keppell was the epitome of ice-cold cool. And if that yellow jacket is still lying around the Universal archives, I’d be only too happy to give it a good home.

“A Robert Culp killer always had bags of style, but bad Bart Keppell was the epitome of ice-cold cool.”

Dr Mark Collier – A Deadly State of Mind (1975)

Hamilton Deadly State

Fifty shades of beige…

If you like ’em smooth, then Dr Marcus Collier’s your man! ‘Gorgeous’ George Hamilton was at the height of his 70s powers here, even pulling off a perma-tan with panache when lesser mortals would have been on the receiving end of a booing.

With perfect teeth, a perfectly manicured mane and skin so smooth that even babies became envious, Dr Collier was a near perfect specimen of his type – and was suitably in demand with the laydeez as a result.

George Camponella – The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case (1976)

George Camponella

What a gorgeous boy! Ambitious young accountant George (played by Howard McGillin) has a lot going for him. He’s superbly turned out, intelligent, shrewd and extremely handsome. He also excels at ‘managing up’, so is sure to go far in his career. Ah yes, George is the sort of clean-cut young man you’d love your daughter to bring home to meet the family. Just steer clear of asking him how a young accountant gets ahead…

Fast fact: Howard McGillin holds the record for the most performances as ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway. Between 1999-2009 he clocked up 2544 appearances!

Alex Benedict – Etude in Black (1972)

Columbo Etude in Black John Cassavetes

Smoulder much, Maestro?

Not content with a hot young wife and a thigh-revealing mistress, there’s an undercurrent in this episode that suggests Alex Benedict (John Cassavetes) is a serial philanderer who’s got a long list of notches on his (presumably mahogany crafted) bedpost.

Whatever the truth, he has brooding good looks, intensity and an artistic passion that make him an extremely alluring figure – as Jennifer Welles found out to her lasting detriment.

3. Carl Lessing – Lovely But Lethal (1973)

Sheen Columbo

Young Martin Sheen was a really good-looking guy, so is perfectly cast as cosmetic scientist, Carl Lessing, who manages to turn the head of beauty empress Viveca Scott.

While she hints that she’s had her pick of young men over the years, she’s met a tough cookie in Lessing who holds power over her in more ways than one – until she smashes his temple with a microscope, that is. That’s one way to solve a multitude of problems alright…

2. Milo Janus – An Exercise in Fatality (1974)

Milo J 3


Now we’re talking! While the above list of Columbo stars have good looks and engaging personalities on their side, none of them can match Robert Conrad’s Milo Janus in the slammin’ bod stakes. To use simple terms, he was all man.

Looking perfectly honed throughout, in whatever outfit he was wearing, Janus was a suitably chiselled figurehead for a gym franchise empire. His love affair with Jessica Conroy (who topped the standings in the loveliest ladies list) firmly places them as the Prom King and Queen of the Columbo opus.

1. Lieutenant Columbo

Columbo Dead Weight

An unsurprising choice, of course, but I hope readers won’t be jeering too loudly as Lieutenant Columbo tops the standings.

Columbo may have been small in stature. He may have looked disheveled, crumpled, even thrown together at times. He could have used a haircut and new suit. But the goodness of the character, and his inherent likability always come shining through. Frankly, the good Lieutenant is a gorgeous man who’s entirely comfortable with himself, and who loves his lot in life. We should all be so lucky.

One person who didn’t agree with the Lieutenant topping the poll, however, was Mrs Columbo. She says he’s the second most handsome. She claims there are 80 guys tied for first…

“Columbo’s goodness of the character, and his inherent likability always come shining through.”

Not forgetting…

Handsome montage

These luckless heart throbs just missed out on the main list, but have a dedicated fan base nonetheless…

Harold McCain: the bad boy, stetson-wearing, gambling addict star of A Bird in the Hand, some rate Greg Evigan’s Harold as extremely handsome. Other think he’s a ‘tashed, mullet-haired pillock. For those that fall into the former category, this one’s for you!

Ken Nicholls: William Smith’s beefcake Ken from Greenhouse Jungle is included here as he’s a ‘hunk’ in the truest sense of the word. With a neck like a tree trunk and a rippling physique that Conan would eye jealously, his presence definitely makes a lady feel safe.

Max Barsini: the enigmatic artist from Murder: A Self Portrait, Barsini was portrayed by Belgium-born Patrick Bauchau, and he certainly brings a certain je ne sais quoi to proceedings. He looks particularly dashing in hats, too…

Nelson Brenner: A man impossible to categorise, Patrick McGoohan’s Nelson Brenner had style and sophistication galore, plus his piercing blue eyes give him an intensity few others could match.

Walter Mearhead: the ultra-fly projectionist from Make Me a Perfect Murder was played with aplomb by two-time Columbo guest-star James McEachin. I may be biased, but I love McEachin’s mix of friendly earthiness and extreme cool cattery. He rocks!

So there we are, Columbo’s most handsome devils in all their glory. If you haven’t already read it, you can read Part 1 of Columbo‘s most beautiful people, the loveliest ladies, right here!

Thanks, as ever, for reading. If your favourite hunk missed out, let me know in the comments section below.

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Under glass

Who, me? Columbo’s most handsome star? Get outta here…

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29 thoughts on “Columbo’s most handsome devils

  1. I absolutely love the choices! Between Bart Koeppel and Bert flemming, best of the best but no one beats Ken Franklin! Thank you so much for the amazing content and thought you put into it and the effort!

  2. What about Andrew Stevens as the series most sex-starved playboy Wayne Jennings in “Murder in Malibu”?

  3. I scoured the Universal Studio archives just a week ago during a trip there! They took us to the warehouse where all of the props are kept. I couldn’t find Bart Keppel’s yellow jacket or any other memorable Columbo artifacts, for that matter. But if I had a week or two, I’m sure I could’ve at LEAST found Jenifer Welles’ typewriter.

  4. Gene Barry suggests Carry Grant to me. Something about the way he moves, looks in his suits? Of course the murderous plot we would never see Cary Grant carry out to the finish, but still I see…

  5. Ricardo Montalban as the full-of-shame killer Luis Montoya in A Matter of Honor. I heard that well into his life all eyes would follow him as he walked into even a crowded room. To get that sort of bearing takes a special kind of training. You almost believed him when he protested his innocence.

  6. Absolute “no” to Jack Cassidy, because I find him creepy. The only choice on this list I agree with is Lieutenant Columbo. He’s handsome and charming.

    I’m surprised Hayden Danziger from “Troubled Waters” didn’t make the list. Just watched the episode and thought he was attractive.

  7. Whadda bout that lean, mean, hunky Edmund Galvin (Charles Frank)? The nephew-in-law Abigail Mitchell(Ruth Gordon) locked in the safe. The REAL crime was wasting that prime slab of 70’s beefcake! And,I think MOST of us would much rather find Louis Jourdan fiddling with our wine opener, than Jack Cassidy!?!? I always found him creep-campy, though this site really seems to “dig” him? His ex, Shirley Jones, had some interesting things to say about his, er…um…real-life sexual prowess, in her autobiography! 🤔

  8. Only two from this list – Carl Lessing and Bart Keppel, in that order (also because Lessing is not a murderer). I have been watching Columbo in order for a year or so now – and Doctor Keppel really was a fun ride throughout the entire episode (like Beth Chadwick among the ladies, I guess). However, the only time my heart paced faster was when Viveca Scott was “bargaining” with Lessing, who kept saying “no” and “uhm”, while piercing her with his eyes. I remember that feeling well. I was really disappointed that his screen time was so short! I appreciate his choice as No. 3 all the more, Columbophile – I guess many others would simply skip such a minor role!

    • He was pretty young at the time. I’ll bet he was pleased to have been cast against the famous Vera Miles, whom I’d only seen at that time in less glamorous roles. What a fabulous figure she had, which she somehow managed to maintain with only that simple treadmill machine. They made a good pair.

  9. Robert Vaughan as Mr. Danziger in “Troubled Waters”. Remember too what his wife said about how satisfying it is to feel like a woman, and how he never disappoints.

    For me the dishiest actor in “A Case of Immunity” was not Sal Mineo, it was Hector Elizondo’s character, the diplomat Hassan Salah.

    p.s. I love the George Camponella nomination as a fun choice. It was in fun, right? (And that’s great trivia about him and Phantom of the Opera.)

  10. Eddie Albert. Near the beginning of the episode, there is a moment when he walks across his living room,smoothly as a cat. He was at least 70 years old already-great moment.
    I can remember him on Green Acres in his outdoor shower-eye catching.
    He was also a beautiful young man; found that out later. Thanks google images!

    • You got that right. That can’t be easy to create a character just by walking across a room. The juxtaposition of the proud portrait helped create the dichotomy of what was to come. And to charm Suzanne! That didn’t take long.

  11. Does anyone know how old the actor playing Milo Janus actually was at the time of filming? I’m intrigued as he said to be if I recall correctly that he is 50 something. Just curious. He’s way too body conscious for my liking. He’s good looking and he knows it. Never an attractive trait. Columbo is my fave, I’m all over the dishevelled look, and his heart is kind, now THAT’S attractive! 😉

  12. George Hamilton and Bob Conrad would be my top two choices in no particular order. Give Conrad Hamilton’s height and you’d have the perfect man!

    • There’s something about the big hair, aviator glasses, driving gloves and the ultra-suede, safari jackets that spell 70’s cool-chic. George Hamilton sure had it, still does! But what about killer-architect Patrick O’Neil? Suave, sophisticated and one of the sexiest,cultured, masculine voices on screen. Doris Day called him, “the love of her life.” He use to be a partner in the restaurant business,The Ginger Man, with Caroll O’Connor, who, come to think of it, would have been great on Columbo,himself!

  13. Some good choices there. But I am surprised to see no mention of Wayne Jennings (played by Andrew Stevens) from Murder in Malibu, also Andy Parma (Thomas Calabro) and Dennis Mulrooney (Doug Savant) from No Time to Die.

  14. I don’t have much of a dog in this fight but I’m going to venture a guess as to say Cadet Roy Springer (“Dawns Early Light”) had no problem getting dates with the ladies at the all girls school across town, and we know Kay Freestone (“Make Me A Perfect Murder”) wasn’t the only woman who found Marc McAndrews “attractive”.

  15. Pingback: Who’s the fairest of them all? Chronicling Columbo’s loveliest ladies | The columbophile

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