Peter Falk 'couldn't remember' award-winning role near end of his life

Columbo actor Peter Falk “couldn’t remember” his award-winning role near the end of his life

Crumpled raincoat-wearing ‘Columbo’ is one of the most famous TV detectives of our time; he never failed to leave us on the edge of our seats.

Just when you thought the bad guy might get away with it, the cigar-smoking super sleuth would show up with just “one nagging detail” that he couldn’t let go.

Throughout the 70s the show featured on prime-time television and was then shown less frequently from the late 80s right up to 2003.

For years TV detectives had always been a cut above the criminal masterminds they pursued but Columbo turned that stereotype on its head as a shrewd but scruffy blue-collar homicide detective who outwitted the most influential and wealthy of criminals.

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The much-loved detective, who became a household name around the globe, earned actor Peter Falk four Emmy awards for his work on the show.

But behind all the success and fame, there was also another side of Peter Falk. At least if we should believe authors Richard Lertzman and William Birnes, who wrote the biography ”Beyond Columbo.”

According to the authors, the book gives an in-depth look at the actor’s life, his place in history, and his artist’s life.

“He drank and smoked incessantly, loved boozing with his friends, and was an inveterate womanizer. He was a negligent husband and an absentee father”


Falk went on to secure his big break in 1960 in Murder, Inc, an American gangster movie in which Falk’s performance as vicious killer Abe Reles earned him an Academy Award nomination.

The following year he starred alongside Bette Davis in the movie Pocketful of Miracles where he was nominated for another Academy Award.

According to many, he’s up there as one of the most iconic stars of his generation. With a wage of roughly $250,000 per episode of Columbo, Falk was also the highest-paid actor in TV during that era.

Peter Falk with his wife, American actress Shera Danese, circa 1991. (Photo by Kypros/Getty Images)

But his family life wasn’t as successful.

In 1960, the actor first married his college sweetheart, Alyce Mayo. The couple first at Syracuse University, where both Peter and Alyce studied. But it took a while before they finally tied the knot. In fact, Peter and Alyce dated for 12 years before they wed on April 17, 1960.

Alyce Mayo, who worked as a designer, reportedly turned a blind eye to her husband’s infidelities, but after 16 years, she had enough.

Together, Falk and Alyce adopted two daughters, Catherine and Jackie. Jackie Falk sometimes showed up at press events with her father but then moved away from the spotlight.

Catherine, who became a private investigator, had a rocky relationship with Peter, and she even filed a lawsuit against him when he reportedly stopped paying her college expenses.

Peter Falk with his daughter Jackie (Getty Images)

”I think that most people feel that I am this money-grubbing daughter, that I’m just going after my dad to get money,” Catherine told Inside Edition in 2011.

According to Catherine, the relationship with her father became more complicated when he married his new wife, actress Shera Danese.

”My father was married to a woman that made it really difficult for my father to feel free. We weren’t allowed to go to his house,” Catherine said.

And the conflict between Catherine and Shera Danese would soon get worse.

Peter Falk cause of death

Sadly, New York-born actor with the trademark squint passed away in June 2011 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. His death was primarily caused by pneumonia, with complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to his doctor Stephen Read, the actor’s dementia and apparent Alzheimer’s disease worsened after hip surgery in 2008, and he no longer remembered playing the world-famous detective ‘Columbo’.

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The actor also battled Retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer, at just three years old and lost his eye; he wore a prosthetic one after that and was told by one agent not to expect much acting work because of it.

Peter Falk died peacefully at his Beverly Hills home at the age of 83. Tributes were pouring in, and the legendary Steven Speilberg paid his respect by saying: “I learned more about acting from him at that early stage of my career than I had from anyone else.”

His daughters said they would remember his “wisdom and humor” – but according to Catherine, she never got the chance to say goodbye to her father. Speaking with Inside Editon, Falk’s oldest daughter claimed that she was kept away from her dad during his final years and didn’t find out about his passing until hours later.

She accused his new wife of many things – but Shera responded via her attorney, Troy Martin.

“Peter’s final resting place is only about Peter, not Catherine, his estranged adopted daughter,” he stated.

Such a talent lost to such a cruel disease. He entertained millions of people around the world with his brilliant prortayal of this haphazard detective.

Please share with all the ‘Columbo’ fans you know.


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