Guest star / Just for fun

Columbo’s Halloween connections

Columbo Halloween montage

While there was never an actual Columbo Halloween episode (aside from a costume party in Death Hits the Jackpot of course), the show has enough spooky connections to warrant a seasonal special.

So do sit back with a pumpkin-spice latte and peruse through the vault of horror as we consider Columbo‘s spookiest stars! I’m not by any means a student of classic horror so it’s conceivable I’ve missed dozens of others. Please put forward your suggestions in the comments section below!

Vincent Price


One of the genre’s most ubiquitous and iconic figures, Vincent Price appeared in dozens of horror films over several decades. The King of Horror delighted Columbo fans with his all-too-brief role as David Lang in 1973’s Lovely but Lethal.

Janet Leigh


She was perhaps the iconic horror film victim of all time as Marion Crane in 1960’s Psycho before going on to commit murder in the role of Grace Wheeler in Forgotten Lady 15 years later.

Vera Miles


Miles co-starred as Janet Leigh’s sister Lila in Psycho – evidently enjoying the experience sufficiently to reprise the role in Psycho 2 more than 20 years later. Columbo fans know her best for her uber-stylish portrayal of murderer Viveca Scott in Lovely but Lethal.

Donald Pleasence


I’ve never actually seen this, so can’t comment on how similar (or otherwise) Pleasence’s psychiatrist Dr Sam Loomis in Halloween was to Adrian Carsini in Any Old Port in a Storm. He must have enjoyed his time going head to head with psychopath Mike Myers, though, as he appeared in four further Halloween sequels. Gotta pay for that LIQUID FILTH somehow, eh Donald?

Jamie Lee Curtis


A year before Halloween helped launch her into the big-time, Jamie Lee Curtis followed mother Janet’s footsteps by appearing in Columbo. Her unforgettable cameo as a surly waitress in 1977’s Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case raises a smile every time.

Suzanne Pleshette


Legendary Hitchcock chiller The Birds featured Pleshette as Annie Hayworth – the noble teacher slain by unruly flock while saving school children. She excelled as sad divorcee Helen Stewart in Dead Weight from Columbo‘s first season – and fortunately avoided a grisly demise.

Ruth Gordon

Columbo Halloween Gordon

Try & Catch Me’s killer grandma has previous at being bad, as she exemplified perfectly in Rosemary’s Baby in 1968. Gordon’s unforgettable Minnie Castevet was so wickedly wicked that she earned an Oscar for it. And even if her Abigail Mitchell was a shade more sympathetic, it just goes to prove that age is no barrier to being an on-screen bad ass…

Thanks to JetPackSam for pointing out this omission from the original article

John Cassavetes

Columbo Halloween Cassavetes

Ruth Gordon’s co-star in Rosemary’s Baby, Cassavetes played ‘Guy’, the lover of the titular Rosemary, who was complicit in her being impregnated by the Devil himself. Bad-boy tendencies obviously die hard, as Cassavetes was committing multiple sins in Columbo 4 years later in the role of adulterous murderer Alex Benedict in Etude in Black.

Roddy McDowall

McDowall Halloween

The usually jovial McDowall was cast as down-on-his-luck TV show host / vampire hunter Peter Vincent in 1985 cult classic Fright Night. Roddy’s most terrifying screen moment, however, undoubtedly came in 1971’s Columbo Short Fuse, though. His skintight sky blue trousers are still the stuff of nightmare nearly 50 years on…

Thanks again to JetPackSam for this one

George Hamilton


Gorgeous George’s amazingly smooth good looks were put to excellent use in 1979 horror spoof Love at First Bite, which saw his Count Dracula up sticks to New York in search of a new bride. Hamilton was twice a Columbo killer: in 1975’s A Deadly State of Mind; and Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health in 1991.

Leslie Nielsen


Comedy legend Leslie Nielsen also got in on the Dracula act in Mel Brooks’ spoof Dracula: Dead and Loving It from 1995. Columbo viewers were able to take him a shade more seriously in his twin outings: Lady in Waiting (1971) and Identity Crisis (1975), where he was brutally slain by Patrick McGoohan.

Plus these…

Halloween pumpkin guardian Dr Bart Keppell
Now See skeleton
Creepy skeleton guy, Great Santini

Not forgetting… the SCARECUT BRIGADE!

Columbo chronicled some seriously bad haircuts over the years, particularly in the 1970s. Here’s a horrifying round-up of some of the scariest cuts ever immortalised on TV


And there’s (predictably) just one more thing…

Peter Falk never appeared in a horror film that I’m aware of (disabuse me, by all means, if you know better), although he was active in a beyond-the-grave role as a benevolent angel in Wings of Desire. He starred in spoof murder-mystery Murder by Death and  also had a tiny cameo in the music video to Ghostbusters (right near the end), so is worthy of inclusion in this article after all. HUZZAH and HURRAH!

So, Peter, who you gonna call?

So thanks for reading and here’s wishing a Happy Happy Halloween to Columbo fans everywhere (spooky Vincent Price laughter to fade)…


The Columbo pumpkin carving was done by my Twitter buddy @stevemy – give him a follow! You can even watch his pumpkin carving tutorial video on YouTube here! Love your work, Steve…

In fairness, this costume would terrify any right-minded individual
How did you like this article?

31 thoughts on “Columbo’s Halloween connections

  1. Yes, Dr. Sam Loomis was just as obsessed with catching Michael Meyers as Adrian Carsini was obsessed about wine and keeping his business alive. Pun intended. 😂

  2. Ah yeah I see, this is about the stars not the music. Sorry! I was so surprised to hear that music used in the episode, four years before the movie, I immediately googled to see if anyone else had noticed and consequently found your ‘halloween connection’ article.

  3. Also, just been watching the episode ‘A Friend in Deed’ and you can hear what sounds exactly like Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ theme playing in the background, about the point where Richard Kiley’s character first drives up to his neighbour’s house, at the beginning. They’ve perhaps used the music in other epiodes too.

  4. Robert Culp played detective of the occult William Sebastian in Spectre (1977, not the Bond movie), a flopped tv pilot film. I tried to upload a picture showing Culp performing some demonic ritual, but it didn’t seem to work, sorry.

    • Robert Culp also starred in “A Name for Evil” in which he played a man who quit his city job and took his wife to go live in the county in a house he inherited from his great-grandfather. Unbeknownst to them, the house was haunted.

  5. Terrific stuff, I particularly love the Scarecut Brigade.

    Also Vera Miles from “Lovely But Lethal” was in a terrific Twilight Zone episode, “Mirror Image”. And Anne Francis from “Short Fuse” – she should also be a candidate on the ‘loveliest ladies’ list – was in the Twilight Zone episodes “The After Hours” and “Jess-Belle”.

  6. A few more that could be included:

    Patrick O’Neal as Diz Coba in The Stepford Wives.
    Columbo favourite Val Avery had a minor role as Sergeant Gionfriddo in The Amityville Horror.
    Honor Blackman was Anna Fountain in the Hammer Horror Movie: To The Devil A Daughter.
    Anthony Zerbe also appeared in The Dead Zone (as Roger Stuart).

    And finally, who can forget Dick Van Dyke’s horrific cockney accent in Mary Poppins? It gave me nightmares, anyway!

  7. Great thinking doing a piece like this for Halloween. Leonard Nimoy had a decent role in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. He was also in an episode of The Twilight Zone. As was Peter Falk, though I’ve always found Falk’s episode to be a bit of a disappointment.

    • Claudia Christian was in cult favourites The Hidden and Maniac Cop II.

      Jennifer Sky (as seen in Columbo Likes The Night Life) was in My Little Eye.

      William Shatner was in The Devil’s Rain and Incubus but especially deserves a mention for being in one of the mast famous Twilight Zone episodes ever – Nightmare At 20,000 Feet. The other episode he did, Nick of Time, is also seen as a classic by many.

  8. >Martin Landau won an Oscar for the roll of Bela Lugosi in “Ed Wood” {Not reallly a horror film but Bela obviously was}
    >Gene Barry was in the original War Or The Worlds, SciFi/Horror.
    >Lee Grant {Leslie Williams} played The mother of Satan’s best friend who kills her family and herself to advance his agenda in Omen II
    Mr. Nielson was also in Creepshow

  9. Martin Sheen was in The Dead Zone, Firestarter and other horror films.
    Roddy McDowell was in Fright Night.
    Bradford Dillman Was in Piranha and Mephisto Waltz
    Robert Vaughn was in C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud

    There are more no doubt.

  10. you forgot #1:
    “Try And Catch Me’s Ruth Gordon {Abigail Mitchell} previously won an Oscar {Best Supporting Actress} for her highly disturbing performance as Minnie Castevet in “Rosemary’s Baby”.

  11. Speaking of angels, he also appeared as a benevolent one in two or three Hallmark Christmas movies. Love the way he disappears at the end of each one.

  12. Nice job! I thought maybe the pumpkin display behind Columbo and Dr. Kepple…or Dr. Kepple’s scary yellow jacket with the pink belt outfit…or Hanlon’s ice cream vendor, Santini’s waiter or Brenner’s Steinmetz disguises…


Leave a Reply