Home   >   Movie Stars   >   F   >   Peter Falk

Peter Falk

Known as the rumpled television detective Columbo, character actor Peter Falk has also enjoyed a successful film career, often in association with groundbreaking independent filmmaker John Cassavetes.

Born September 16, 1927, in New York City, Falk lost an eye at the age of three, resulting in the odd, squinting gaze that later became his trademark. First pursuing a career in public administration, serving as an efficiency expert with the Connecticut Budget Bureau, he became bored in the early 1950s and decided that acting would be exciting. By 1956, Falk had turned professional, and an appearance in a New York production of The Iceman Cometh earned him much attention. He soon graduated to Broadway and in 1958 made his feature debut in the Nicholas Ray/Budd Schulberg drama Wind Across the Everglades. Falk earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination in 1960 for Murder Inc., a major career boost. He was nominated in the same category the following year, this time as a sarcastic bodyguard in Frank Capra's Pocketful of Miracles. In 1962, Falk won an Emmy for his work in the television film The Price of Tomatoes, and a steady stream of accolades made him a hot property.

In 1968, Falk first assumed the role of Columbo, the disheveled police lieutenant whose seemingly slow and inept investigative manner masked a steel-trap mind. Debuting in the TV movie Prescription: Murder, the character was an immediate hit, and after a second telefilm, Ransom for a Dead Man, a regular Columbo series premiered in 1971. The show ran for seven years, and earned Falk a second Emmy in the process.

In the meantime, he also continued his film career, most notably with John Cassavetes. In 1970, Falk starred in the director's Husbands and in 1974 they reunited for the brilliant A Woman Under the Influence. In between the two pictures, Falk also returned to Broadway, where he won a Tony award for his performance in the 1972 Neil Simon comedy The Prisoner of Second Avenue. After Columbo ceased production in 1978, Falk starred in a few more films, including Cassavetes' 1986 effort Big Trouble. He was remembered warmly in Rob Reiner's cult favorite The Princess Bride and appeared as himself in Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire (1988) before taking up Columbo's trench coat again in 1988. In the new millennium he has appeared in Made (2001), Corky Romano (2001) and Undisputed (2002).

Note: This profile was written in or before 2005.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Peter Falk Facts

BirthdaySeptember 16, 1927
BirthplaceNew York, New York, USA
Date of deathJune 23, 2011 (Beverly Hills, California, USA, age 83)
Height5' 6" (1m68)  How tall is Peter Falk compared to you?
Awards1973 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor in a Television Series - Drama (for Columbo)

Selected Filmography

The Princess Bride
Columbo: The Complete Series
Shark Tale
White House Down
Murder By Death
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
The Great Race
Knight and Day
Continue » Find more details on the Peter Falk Movies page