Community / Just for fun / Opinion

The best Columbo lookalikes

Columbo Try and Catch Me
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm… Run that by me again?

Hopefully regular readers will notice that I’ve upped the number of posts recently as I try to do my small part to help Columbo fans stave off cabin fever during the COVID-19 crisis of 2020.

You’ll be forgiven for thinking I have cabin fever myself when you read this post, though, which takes a tongue-in-cheek slant on that centuries-old pastime of likening folk we know to other people / animals / inanimate objects.

For your viewing pleasure, I have compiled 28 examples of Columbo character lookalikes. Some are purely fanciful. Others will have you convinced you’re seeing double. Hopefully you’ll be mildly amused either way – although I stop short of offering a guarantee.

I’d like to urge fun-hating readers not to take this all too seriously. If it’s sober Columbo writing you seek, here’s an excellent, straight-faced article about life lessons we can all learn from the good Lieutenant. If you’re still here, excellent. Set your phasers for ‘fun’ and forge bravely on…

Mark Ruffalo and Lieutenant Columbo

Columbo Mark Ruffalo

What better place to start? Ruffalo appeared to be essentially auditioning for the title role in a remake of Columbo after he starred as Inspector David Toschi in acclaimed 2007 motion picture Zodiac. I’m not sure that was the intention, but Ruffalo certainly rocked the mac / tousled hair look and he’s such a fine actor that he’s the only person I would currently trust to inherit the role from Peter Falk.

Rating: 7/10

Ken Franklin and Donald J. Trump

Columbo Ken Franklin

During the 2016 Presidential Election race, musician Michael Penn controversially described Donald Trump as looking like a Jack Cassidy Columbo villain (his views publicised in this tweet by Patton Oswalt).

Is there a resemblance between the 45th President of the USA and one of the most cherished Columbo guest stars of all? I didn’t think so until I saw the above still of Ken Franklin from Murder by the Book where there is at least a slight resemblance given how his hair is styled. That aside, though, the likeness is pretty negligible so I’d appreciate it if fans of Big Jack (of which I am one) don’t give me too much of a hard time.

Rating: 6/10

Roger White and Rowlf from The Muppets

Columbo Roger White

One of the above images is of a lovable, big-hearted, floppy-eared lug. The other is Rowlf from The Muppets – a puppet creation that looks so much like slain Double Exposure projectionist Roger White that only their skin tones set them apart.

Rating: 8/10

Parking Boy Joe and Fred from Scooby Doo

Columbo lookalike 1

Evidently Freddie saved up for his share in the Mystery Machine by acting as a parking boy at swanky art shows under the alias of ‘Joe’. And why not? He earned TWO BUCKS just for helping Dale Kingston check his car for a lost cuff link. As a result, Joe/Fred was able to secure the down payment on the van in record time in order to head off to a life of exposing sham supernatural crimes with his pals.

Freddie’s role in Suitable for Framing wasn’t quite enough to have Kingston blaming the pesky kid for his ultimate downfall, but his contribution to Columbo’s investigation was not insignificant.

Rating: 7/10

Dr Kepple and Peter Fonda

After roaring through the American south-west following a major cocaine deal in the late 1960s, Bart Kepple used his ill-gotten gains to set himself up as a reputable expert in the field of consumer behaviour. At least you’d be forgiven for thinking that when you consider that Peter Fonda’s ‘Wyatt’ from Easy Rider is an absolute doppelganger for the crooked Kepple.

Thanks to Ben Golomb on Facebook for this one

Rating: 8/10

Grace Wheeler-Willis and ET

Columbo Grace Wheeler

Those sweeping, graceful necks, beautiful eyes, pleasant smile and delicate noses means that it would be child’s play to morph dear Grace into the universe’s friendliest extra terrestrial. Or have I totally lost the plot…?

Rating: 5/10

Eddie Kane and Tim Roth

Columbo Eddie Kane

Until he metamorphosised into a grinning puppy dog upon hearing that Riley Greenleaf would publish his book on bombs, psycho hit-man Eddie Kane from Publish or Perish absolutely had the sort of glowering intensity (and floppy locks) that Tim Roth rocked during his Tarantino years. His insane grinning, though, was a terrifying look entirely of his own.

Rating: 6/10

Random audience woman and Weird Al Yankovic

You’d be forgiven for having a double-take when watching scenes from Murder in Malibu when a suitably popping-eyed Weird Al lookalike starts asking questions to soon-to-be-murdered novelist Theresa Goren. Only the absence of a ‘stash definitively tells them apart, although, strangely, the two have never been seen together – and you know what that means…

Rating: 7/10

Lloyd Harrington and Maurice Moss

Viewers of Troubled Waters must surely have believed that out-of-love pianist Lloyd Harrington’s giant wedge of curly hair was a one-of-a-kind look, never to be repeated. They’d have been wrong. Just over 30 years after Troubled Waters aired, Harrington’s haircut was resurrected in cult British comedy The IT Crowd – and plonked directly onto the swede of series’ star Maurice Moss.

Thanks to @omokushima on Twitter for this one

Rating: 7/10

Neil Cahill and Willy Wonka

Columbo Neil Cahill

Everyone’s favourite and slightly unhinged chocolate maker bears more than a passing resemblance to Neil Cahill, the shaggy-haired son of murderer Marshall Cahill in Mind Over Mayhem – especially when they both enter pop-eyed yelling mode. Wonka, however, is definitely the snappier dresser. Neil could never pull off the purple top hat look…

Rating: 8/10

Assistant Ross and the Wolfman


It’s not often that an unmasked human could be said to bear a resemblance to one of the legendary Universal Monsters, but Dr Marshall Cahill’s wimpy assistant Ross from Mind Over Mayhem achieves just that. See for yourself! Note the bushy wolfish fringe, the wolfish nose and that bulging, wolfish lower lip. Put simply, once the wolfman’s face is shaved, his identity is plainly revealed to be Ross. And that’s a fact.

Rating: 7/10

Lydia Corman and Julianne Moore

I had to do a double-take during a recent viewing of forgettable 1990 Columbo adventure Uneasy Lies the Crown when redheaded love-interest Lydia Corman (wife of the murderous dentist Wesley) emerged on-screen.

With a milk-white complexion and gentle red tresses, Lydia shares much more than a passing resemblance to Boogie Nights and Hannibal star Julianne Moore. Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as watchable as enduring Hollywood star Moore, but one can’t have everything, can one?

Rating: 7/10

Commissioner Mark Halperin and The Master

Columbo Mark Halperin

Doctor Who’s (im)mortal enemy has a beard so evil that none could ever doubt his inherent wickedness. It’s a look shared by another evil-doer – murderous police commissioner Mark Halperin from A Friend in Deed, who was a seriously bad cop, not to mention the heir apparent to The Master’s diabolical galactic schemes.

Rating: 8/10

The Master and Leon Lamarr

We all know that the Master has shape-shifting, regeneration abilities to fall back on in times of catastrophe, so it’s perhaps little surprise to see him pop up again later in the Columbo universe, too.

Here we can see Anthony Ainley version of the mean-spirited Time Lord took up the alias of Leon Lamarr in Death Hits the Jackpot – doubtless with the hope of using his lottery millions to fund some sort of hideous weapon of mass destruction. Thank God Columbo again foiled his dastardly scheme.

Thanks to Twitteratti @FrChrisR and @Antiq_Craft for this one

Rating: 8/10

Margaret Halperin and Tootsie

Columbo Margaret Halperin

Just for the record, I am NOT SAYING A Friend in Deed murder victim Margaret Halperin looks like a man in drag. I am saying that Tootsie’s hair and glasses appear to have been styled directly on her.

Rating: 9/10

Hassan Salah and General Zod

Although he’s usually adorned in Middle Eastern attire, underneath Hassan Salah’s robes lurks an all-powerful super-villain with galactic domination at the top of his to-do list.

Fortunately for the global populace, Salah ran into his own version of the Son of Jor-El in Lieutenant Columbo, who was able to bring his man to justice after an almighty battle.

Rating: 7/10

Shirley Blane and Danielle Haim

Mildly creepy Viveca Scott groupie Shirley Blane (of Lovely but Lethal fame) could easily deputise for HAIM lead singer Danielle should the rock chick lose her voice or succumb to stage fright.

Rating: 7/10

Graham McVeigh and Fozzie Bear

Tubby McVeigh’s abysmal stick-on beard proves that he has a long way to go before he can be considered a master of disguise. He seems to have found inspiration from another of those rascally Muppets – this time Fozzie Bear. Strange Bedfellows indeed…

Thanks to Susan Dal Dosso for this one

Rating: 6/10

Grace Wheeler-Willis and a scarfed dog

Columbo Janet Leigh

Poor Grace just can’t get no rezpeck, can she? This likeness dates back to September 2016 and a #ColumboTV livetweet event of Forgotten Lady. One of the regulars tweeted the above comparison during the event, and the tweet was so well received that she won the spot prize for best contribution. Admittedly 90% of participants were drunk, but it raised a few smiles – except in the Wheeler-Willis household…

Rating: 6/10

Ken Nicholls and Pink Panther beefcake

Greenhouse Jungle Ken

Big Ken, the tree-necked former Barbarian lover of Kathy Goodland in Greenhouse Jungle, was all man, boasting a physique as chiselled as a block of marble. After being ditched by Kathy he fruitlessly attempted to impress chicks with his muscular frame at Bicep Beach in Pink Panther episode Come on In! The Water’s Pink (which I heartily recommend viewing here). His whereabouts since then are unknown.

Rating: 8/10

Bertie Hastings and a boiled egg

Columbo Bertie Hastings

I never promised this would be highbrow, did I? While the skin tones leave much to be desired, Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case’s diminutive (and ticklish) victim was simply the human personification of the phrase ‘egghead’. Poor Bertie…

NB – Yes, I actually did draw a face on an egg and photograph it specifically for this article. Gotta problem with that?

Rating: 7/10

Miss Cochrane and Michael Jackson

Columbo Trish O'Neill

Most folk reckon that the King of Pop’s reconstruction work was done to make him look more like Elizabeth Taylor. I beg to differ. Jacko’s look circa 1995 was clearly inspired by Miss Cochrane, Trish O’Neill’s lovely dog-handler from 1978’s How to Dial a Murder.

Rating: 7/10

Harold Van Wick and Boris Johnson

Columbo Harold Van Wick

Bumbling BoJo – the UK Prime Minister, for those with limited political knowledge – must be immensely proud of his blond mop as he’s sported it almost unchanged for well over a decade. But I’d argue that it was worn better some three decades earlier by gadgets kingpin Harold Van Wick in 1975’s Playback.

Rating: 7/10

Abigail Mitchell and Gimli, son of Gloin

Columbo Abigail Mitchell

Given that she’s the same height as the dwarfish star of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Try & Catch Me villainess Abigail Mitchell cements the similarities further with her identikit plait, her chain mail-esque woollen night-dress and her playful approach to killing. Come to think of it, it’s really only her lack of beard and her softer voice that set the two apart.

Rating: 8/10

Oliver Brandt and Jethro

Separated at birth: esteemed accountant Oliver Brandt and Cornish comedian, Jethro. The statures, beards and cowlicks are uncanny and both share an innate ability to make others laugh: Jethro with his non-PC wisecracks, and Oliver with his devilish tickling and put-downs of petit, balding business partner, Bertie.

Thanks to Darren Cameron on Facebook for this one

Rating: 8/10

Beth Chadwick and Strawberry Shortcake

Columbo Beth Chadwick

Once Beth Chadwick was freed from police custody after lover Peter Hamilton refused to give evidence against her, she completed her boardroom coup and switched the family business from advertising to toy production. Using her own favourite power-dressing ensemble as the inspiration, Beth created Strawberry Shortcake in her own likeness – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Rating: 7/10

Unnamed detective and OJ Simpson

For a while I was convinced that I’d unearthed a jaw-dropping find from 1973 Columbo outing Lovely but Lethal – in the shape of a young OJ Simpson making a cameo as an unnamed detective at the end of the episode.

Given that OJ was on his way to winning the NFL Player of the Year Award in the same year, I have to admit it’s almost certainly not him – but by gum, they look similar.

Rating: 9/10

Steinmetz and Eric Prince

Columbo Steinmetz

Notwithstanding the fact they were both played by the same actor, many eagle-eyed fans have noted the striking similarity between Nelson Brenner’s alter ego Steinmetz, from 1975 spy romp Identity Crisis, and Ashes to Ashes’ 1998 Funeral Directors Man of the Year Eric Prince.

Knowing Patrick McGoohan’s penchant for the eccentric, would anyone bet against the assumption that he based his appearance as Prince directly on Steinmetz as a cheeky in-joke? I certainly wouldn’t…

Rating: 10/10

That’s all for now, dear friends. If you can think of other Columbo lookalikes I might have overlooked, please alert me. As serious or silly as you like. If they’re absolute gems I’ll add them into the article and give you due credit. And of the ones I’ve provided, which do you think is the most lookalikey of the lot?

I’m going to have a lie down after all that silliness. Normal service will be resumed presently on the blog with a review of Sex & The Married Detective set to be posted this coming weekend. For those hanging tough in these self-isolating times, I salute you! Keep out of trouble until we meet again…

Contribute to the upkeep of this site from just $3, you lovely person, you!

Dozens of Columbo gift ideas right here

Columbo Eddie Kane
He doesn’t look like Tim Roth now, does he?
How did you like this article?

55 thoughts on “The best Columbo lookalikes

  1. I think you missed the most obvious one of them all. The recovering addict who gets killed in A Stitch in Crime looks like he could be Art Garfunkel’s twin brother back in the 70’s.

  2. (talking about football, or soccer, in this month of June 2021)
    Did you know Columbo had a second career as a football coach? He took the name of Raymond Goethals, and especially in his Marseille years (1990-1993) one could see he really was Columbo.

  3. I need to share that after a tough day, I pulled this out and it completely turned my mood around…my daughter and I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time!!! 😂 Thank you!

  4. Shirley Blaine looks a bit like a friend of mine and the car salesman from “A Bird in the Hand” reminded me of Supt. Chalmers off of the Simpsons.

    • Oh and the housekeeper from “Murder of a Rock Star” reminded me of Nanny from “Count Duckula” only much grumpier.

  5. My first thought at first sight of Margaret was of “Tootsie,” and then to wonder whether she really was an actor in drag!

  6. Brilliant! In fact, CP really sold himself short on these ratings.

    Nicholls/PP beefcake = 10/10
    Halperin/Tootsie = 10/10
    Hastings/egg = 10/10 (nice artistry)
    Van Wick/Johnson = 9/10
    Cochrane/Jackson = 10/10
    F*cking Rowlf!!! = 10/10

    And, finally, Beth Chadwick and Strawberry Shortcake is an eeeeasy 11 out of 10.

    Nailed it.

  7. Oh, the hard boiled egg had me dying! Strawberry Shortcake was brilliant. You forgot about Colambo from Sesame Street.

    • I didn’t count Colambo because he’s such a direct spoof, although he is a lovey fellow. He pops up on this site in the ‘Columbo facts’ section.

  8. From “Murder Under Glass,” Mario is a dead ringer for Ashton Kutcher.

    From “Murder: A Self Portrait,” Max Barsini looks like the vampire Lucien LaCroix from “Forever Knight.”

    From “Columbo Cries Wolf,” Sean Brantley looks like a young Sean Connery.

    From “Butterfly in Shades of Grey,” Gerry Winters looks like Albert Brooks and Chris Lemmon. And Fielding Chase looks like President Skroob from “Spaceballs.”

    From “Undercover,” Irving Krutch looks like pro-wrestler Jeff Jarrett (specifically, from his later years in the TNA promotion).

  9. Priceless stuff, mega kudos. Margaret Halperin here in the picture looks very much to me like Ed Begley Jr.

  10. Assistant Ross could be Shirley Blaine’s brother.
    Beth Chadwick and Rudy from Fat Albert.
    Love them all but the pup in the scarf takes it.

  11. One I can remember both from different episodes is the fella( Murder victim ) in RIP Mrs Columbo, sorry cant remember his name as i am not a great fan of that particular episode is basically a younger version of Nelson Hayward Candidate for crime perhaps he was his son or a genetic clone who knows .

    • Almost forgot , Liam Brady Murder smoke and shadows resembles harry potter .
      IF i think of any more i will update thanks cp for this very humorous post lets hope cp never runs out of ideas , co incidentally I saw sergeant Kramer (Bruce Kirby) in an episode of Kojak yesterday and i beleive he is still with us .

    • Daniel maslany would make a great Columbo. Watch him murdoch mysteries. Built like Columbo and corky just like him.

  12. Neil Cahill (I didn’t know the characters name, but I’ll take your word for it) looks incredibly like Charlie off of the Star Trek! Or is that cheating??

  13. Very entertaining; but a bit mean to Assistant Ross (Mind over Mayhem) comparing him to the Wolfman!

  14. Fun stuff! My favorite was your finding someone other than Richard Widmark to compare with Eddie Kane. Since Kane is played by professional Richard Widmark impersonator John Davis Chandler, that must have been as tough as it would have been to compare Eric Prince to someone other than Steinmetz!

  15. Thanks for the many laughs. But on the downside, you pretty much crushed by image of O’Neill forever.

  16. This had me in tears laughing. My favourite has to be Gimli, son of Gloin. Thanks once again for another brilliant post, definitely the funniest yet!

  17. This was hilarious. Thought you were a little mean to Janet Leigh — twice — and anyone who blasphemes against the goddess Trish O’Neil will suffer the pains of Purgatory for a thousand years, but Strawberry Shortcake and Boris Johnson were spot on.

  18. An “arrogant televangelist suspected of murder by Columbo”? Put that one in the “story ideas” file for the reboot.

  19. Thank you, Columbophile, for amusing us in these corona-times.
    About the lookalikes. I fear you will not appreciate, but there is some resemblance between lawyer Charles Huston in “Mrs. Columbo; Word Games” (that’s the pilot) and dr. Bart Keppel in “Double Exposure”. However, reassure you: the Huston-character doesn’t have the same quality, the same vigour. (There’s also some resemblance between his car and several cars in the Columbo-series.)

    [You announce us the review of “Sex and the Married Detective”. It’s one of my favorites (let’s say top 3). I’ve understood you don’t like it that much. Do you? I think it will be pleasant to read your comments on it.]

  20. Fred from Scoobie Doo, Strawberry Shortcake, Tootsie…simply amazing!!! How do you think of these things. Those are perfects matches. Really good post.

  21. Thanks again, you gave me quite the laugh. Very well researched! You are a great sleuth yourself! Columbo would be proud!

  22. This is definitely one of my favourite of your blogs. I always thought Tootsie was in A Friend in deed. Yes we need silliness right now. I swear there is two actors on the episode “uneasy lies the crown” who look awfully a lot like Darren Stephens and Rhonda’s mother. HaHa. Stay safe.


Leave a Reply