Peter Falk died yesterday.
He was 83 and I know the last few years weren’t at all pleasant for him.
But still, another one of my childhood heroes, gone.
I was in love with Columbo. Flat-out, plan our wedding for when I reach legal age, in love. That little, rumpled, absentminded genius who used other people’s arrogant assumptions against them, sending them chasing after their own clues until they tripped and fell at his feet?* Oh, yeah. There will never be another actor worthy of wearing his trenchcoat.
His first roles, though, were on the other side of the law: heavies, gangsters, mobsters, thugs. Some of them were redeemable, or had their own personal codes of conduct, but some were thoroughly, amorally frightening. Abe in Murder Inc. remains one of the most ruthless and unrepentant criminals I’ve ever seen. As much as I loved Peter Falk, I’ve never been so glad to see anyone get theirs.
But Mr. Falk had the talent and confidence to poke fun at himself, too. Sam Diamond, in Murder by Death—which is one of my favorite movies of all time— is the perfect parody of the hard-boiled detective without a clue. If I’d been his secretary, I’d have brained him with the poker and walked away He plays Guy Gisborne in Robin and the Seven Hoods—also in my top five—as pure, evil, lecherous ham.
And he made me cry at the end of Princess Bride with three little words. You know the ones:
Goodbye, Mr. Falk. I’ll miss you.
And I forgive you for not marrying me when I grew up.
*Columbo’s axiom: if you commit the perfect crime, shut up, sit still, and don’t improvise.
5 thoughts on “Goodbye, Mr. Falk”
I’m right here with you. When I was in my 20’s I toyed with the idea of being an artist and enrolled in The Arts Student’s League of New York. One day I strolled into the studio early. Who was sitting there but Mr. Falk, himself and, wouldn’tchaknow it, asked if I would sit and model for him. Yup, he sketched me. I’ve still got it, too, tucked somewhere in my attic. It’s a rough one but I don’t care. I was smitten. He will be sorely missed.
That is awesome! What a wonderful memory!
Very cool MSB!
I loved him too. I loved Columbo. Did you know that the trenchcoat he wore n the show was his own – and he wore it for 25 years!
And yes, I loved that moment in Princess Bride as well.
I didn’t know that—but it just proves that he’s the only one who could ever play that role.
(I always secretly thought the grandpa’s name in Princess Bride was Colombo . . . )