It will come as no surprise to fans that Columbo was a global smash hit.
From LA to London, from Paris to Bucharest, from Melbourne to Tokyo, Columbo was a ratings winner and one of the most talked-about shows of any given week it aired.
As a result, it was not uncommon for Lieutenant Columbo to appear on the front cover of TV guides, as his very presence was a guaranteed circulation boost. But beyond that, Columbo and Peter Falk became so iconic that they moved beyond mere television listings publications, gracing the cover of some of the world’s most high profile magazines.
“Columbo and Peter Falk became so iconic that they graced the cover of some of the world’s most high profile magazines.”
Often the photography and illustration work was so good that it was an artwork in its own right. Little wonder, perhaps, that I’ve often seen fans sharing imagery online of framed versions of these covers adorning the walls of their homes.
I’ve chronicled a selection of super-cool Columbo magazine covers below, and would LOVE to hear your thoughts on them.
Many a fans’ favourite, Peter Falk appeared on the front cover of Rolling Stone magazine in April 1975, looking suitably rock star cool! Better yet, you can read the full Rolling Stone interview with Peter here!
Columbo was immortalised on the cover of Time magazine in November 1973. I love that Columbo appeared on Time, but I’m not a huge fan of this illustration. His hair looks a bit too dreadlocky to me…
This uber-cool cover of Life magazine from 1970 featured Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara and John Cassavetes talking about their film Husbands.
Not familiar with People Weekly mag, but it appears to be some sort of celeb gossip weekly from August 1976, featuring Peter talking about his divorce from first wife Alyce. He would marry Shera Danese two years later. Peter’s looking HOT on the cover!
Thanks for this reader submission from my French friend Eric Saussine. In his own words: “In 1987 there were a string of new TV networks some of them very low brow and controlled by Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire and later to be Italian leader. So the cover is about – with some irony – ‘the bad Italian example’ and illustrated with Columbo, which the magazine is very fond of.” Awesome – thanks Eric!
TV guide covers
Predictably, Columbo would appear on a number of TV listings magazines, notably US publication TV Guide in the 1970s.
My absolute favourite from all the covers on this page, Peter absolutely rocks this casual sweater, windswept hair and cigarette look. I know that smoking is bad, but he makes it look so darn cool…
Al Hirschfeld’s iconic Columbo illustration appeared on the cover of TV Guide in 1976. The same illustration would also appear on William Link’s short story anthology, The Columbo Collection, released in 2010.
Peter Falk looking super cute on the cover of the annual TV Stars publication in 1973. I can’t positively ID the episode, so if anyone knows, please leave a comment! He uses a similar phone in Requiem for a Falling Star, but it’s not quite the same.
I can’t find a higher quality image, but this sweet illustration for Columbo Prescription: Murder appeared on the cover of the Herald Examiner‘s TV Weekly supplement on 18 February 1968 – two days before the episode aired. The rest is history!
Magazines from around the world
Columbo was a global hit and as such appeared on magazine covers around the world. Here is a small selection.
French magazine Tele Poche featured Columbo/Peter Falk on the cover in February 1973 (above) and November 1979 (below). Price of the mag nearly doubled in 6 years!
TV Heroes was a British magazine. Not sure what year this was released, but the price was just 25p, so likely sometime in mid 70s.
Peter Falk on the cover of Australian magazine TV week in 1978.
The TV Times supplement of the Los Angeles Times featured Columbo in December 1990.
And a sad one to finish. This French magazine featured a cover story about the declining health of Peter Falk in July 2009. The headline translates to: The terrible fate of Columbo. His fight against disease.
Of course, in true Columbo style there’s just one more cover, but it’s almost too ghastly to share. Those of a weak disposition should exit this page now, and go to this ‘safe page’ of imagery featuring Columbo and Dog.
If you’re still here, please scroll down to find a Columbo magazine cover so frightful that it should never have been conceived…
I did warn you! If you have any of these mags in your personal archive, or others I haven’t featured, please let me know! And thanks, as always, for reading!