Mr. Falk is 81 years old this year. This news is particularly poignant, as only a few months ago, Peter Falk was featured with other "mature" actors for the cover of Screen Actor magazine, (which I receive as a proud Screen Actors' Guild member).Falk is a huge supporter of the unions, and has cheerfully walked the picket lines alongside the lesser-known working (and also the unemployed) actors.
Kids, let me tell you a few more wonderful tidbits about Mr. Falk: As a child, he was often teased about his glass eye. He was a good student, and often the teachers would trust him to watch over the other students. Always the practical joker, young Peter would remove his glass eye, place it on a nearby desk, and tell the other children "You better be good, 'cause I've got my eye on you..."
He later became quite a prolific artist (as a painter of nudes). He stumbled into painting while filming a movie in New York City, over fifty years ago. He wandered past a classroom, and peered in, to see a "Life Drawing" class in session, complete with a nude model for the students to figure-draw.
"What kind of class is that?" he asked. When he was told, he signed up for a class the next day.
His paintings of women--often redheads(his wife, and if you pay attention--you'll notice in television series he's best known for-- nearly all his female co-stars, are redheads)--are delicate, finely drawn, and sensual.
His colleague, John Cassavettes, cast him in a couple of his independent films. The two were life-long friends, and in 1989, when John Cassavettes died, Falk grieved tremendously, and offered comfort to Cassavettes' widow, the lovely, richly talented Gena Rowlands.
The roles Falk would try on in his long career would vary from criminals to cops--and one very special cop, in particular--that of Lt. Columbo in the series simply titled, "Columbo".
Director Rob Reiner would later cast Falk as the endearing grandfather in "The Princess Bride",and his performance will leave you smiling!
In terms of Columbo, I am the ultimate aficionado. I can tell you, for example, that Peter Falk, long before either of the following directors had ever been heard of, hired them to direct him in the Columbo television series.
Who are they?
Jonathon (later directed Academy-Award-winning film, "Silence of the Lambs")Demme, who directed the Columbo episode, "Murder Under Glass". Steven (later directed Academy-Award-winning film, "Schindler's List")Spielberg, who directed "Murder by the Book". Those two episodes were my all-time favorites, even though I never realized who they were directed by, until a few years ago, when I got the DVD collection!
Many years ago, I watched The Tonight Show, as Johnny Carson asked Falk about his success, and him being seen "only" as Lt. Columbo. He replied he enjoyed the role very much. Falk then added that he had gone to the African Rainforest, to be in a remote place, a place where he could never be recognized. He was purchasing fruit in a small market, and several native people came up to him, crying, "Columbo, Columbo!". It seems the local relief agencies had entertained the tribes with American television, and he was much beloved by the tribesmen, who found his character a good, and wise man. "I knew then that I had 'arrived' ", he joked. Always humble, Falk said "I am honored to get to play Lt. Columbo; he's a fascinating guy." And so are you, Mr. Falk. So are you.