Last week, Peter Falk passed away at the age of 83. Anyone under the age of twenty probably doesn’t even know who Peter Falk was, but for everyone else, we will always remember him as Columbo.
When I saw the headline that Peter Falk was dead, it shocked and saddened me. The man lived a long life, he was eighty-three, but for me he was always one of those guys who I thought would be around forever.
As I sat and read the article, I started to think back to when I was a kid, about four or five years old. Back then, my family consisted of my mother, my father, and four children, with one television available to entertain the entire bunch. I’m sure many of you reading this had it the same way growing up.
The kids would fight over what to watch, and the older ones would usually win. Me being the youngest, I would never win, so I was stuck watching their shows or I had to wait until they were gone and the television was all mine.
But when my father had a day off from work, forget it, it was his television, and the rest of us could either watch what he watched or go play outside with our toys.
That’s where Columbo comes in.
On the days when my father ruled the television, my parents would stay up late, cuddled up on the sofa in the dark living room with the television providing the only light, watching detective shows. And, for some reason, I would be the only kid watching it with them. Maybe these were school nights and the rest of the kids were sleeping? Like I said, I was only four or five, so it was before I started school.
Anyhow, I would either stretch out across the cold floor or sit on the sofa with them, but I enjoyed the heck out of those shows. The shows usually included McCloud, Columbo, and Quincy, M.E. But Columbo I enjoyed the most, and it all had to do with Peter Falk.
I’m not sure what it was about him. Maybe it had to do with the way he chewed his cigars, wearing that trench coat, and letting everyone believe he was slow-witted as he managed to prove them guilty of the crime they committed. Whatever it was, it kept me hooked on Columbo, even as a small child, and made me a fan for life.
I’ve seen Peter Falk in other movies besides Columbo. He played great roles in The In-Laws, The Cheap Detective, Murder by Death, Pocketful of Miracles, and The Princess Bride. But I will always love and cherish him as television’s greatest detective.
After reading the article and recalling my childhood memory, I realized how many years had passed since those nights spent with my parents, and how the more time passes, the more pieces of my childhood seem to fade away.
It’s true, I can never go back to being a kid, watching late-night television with my parents, and Columbo will never again solve a new case of some murderer who thought they had committed the perfect crime, but on those nights, when I feel like reminiscing, I can always pop in a DVD of Columbo and smile again.
Oh, just one more thing…we’ll miss you, Peter Falk.