The character and show popularized the inverted detective story format, which begins by showing the crime and its perpetrator. The plot revolves around how a perpetrator known to the audience will be caught and exposed, sometimes referred to as a "howcatchem."
Columbo's first name is never mentioned. However, one episode briefly showed his badge, listing his full name as Frank Columbo. A Canadian trivia game once claimed his first name was Phillip. Series co-creator William Link has said that as far as he is concerned, neither one is correct, and Columbo has no first name besides "Lieutenant".
Columbo's car is a 1959 Peugeot 403 convertible. Only 504 two-door convertibles were made in 1959. The original was sold when NBC dropped the series, and a replacement had to be located when ABC resumed production. During the NBC years, the license plate was 044-APD. For ABC, the plate was 448-DBZ.
Columbo's wardrobe consisted of 彼得·法尔克's own clothes, including the high-topped shoes and shabby suit. Falk bought the famous raincoat, which first appeared in Prescription: Murder (1968), for $15 in 1967, when he got caught in a New York City rainstorm. A life-long cigarette smoker, Falk added the cigar as a personal touch.
When this show was renewed for a second season, NBC brass wanted Columbo to have a sidekick. William Link and Richard Levinson conferred with Steven Bochco, who was writing the script for the season opener, and together they hatched the idea of giving Lieutenant Columbo a dog as a partner. Falk felt his character had enough gimmicks, between the raincoat, cigar, and Peugeot. When he met the lethargic, drooling basset hound that had been plucked from a pound, Falk knew it was perfect for Columbo's dog.
Peter Falk wasn't too far removed from the character he played. In real life, he tended to be rumpled and disheveled, and was forever misplacing things. He often had to get a ride home from the studio after losing his car keys. He had a Master's degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University, which led to him working for the State of Connecticut's Budget Bureau as an efficiency expert until he went into acting. He was also used to being underestimated due to his appearance. He'd lost his right eye to cancer at age three, and many of his college drama teachers warned him of his limited chances in the movies due to his uneven stare. After a screentest at Columbia Pictures, Harry Cohn dismissed him by saying, "For the same price, I can get an actor with two eyes."
Peter Falk frequently added in unscripted improvisations such as asking for a pencil, searching for something in his pockets, asking a character to repeat something, rambling about irrelevant trivialities, or adding in a line about Mrs. Columbo. Falk did this to frustrate and annoy his fellow actor (usually the suspect) and generate a genuine "get to the point" moment.
The original character concept for Columbo was a smooth-talking, stylish, cultured personality. Bing Crosby was the first choice, but he declined. When Peter Falk auditioned, he brought an entirely different dimension to the role with his aimless chattering, scattered mannerisms, and disheveled appearance. The producers weren't certain if audiences would accept a police detective looking like a bum, but the show's premiere was an instant hit.
The original plan was for a new episode to air every week, which would have meant shooting an episode every five days. As a motion picture star, 彼得·法尔克 refused to commit to such an busy schedule. The network arranged for the Columbo segments to air once a month on Wednesday nights.
Season one, episode one, "Murder by the Book", was directed by 史蒂文·斯皮尔伯格 and written by 史蒂文·布奇科. Spielberg was never again involved with the series, though still honored its career influence when he attended a support event for "The Rose Theatre", attended by Peter Falk and many other cast. Bochco wrote several other episodes.
In 2007, 彼得·法尔克 claimed he had chosen a script for one last Columbo episode, "Columbo: Hear No Evil". The script was renamed "Columbo's Last Case". After ABC declined the project, the series producers announced that they were attempting to shop the project to foreign production companies. Falk was diagnosed with dementia in late 2007.
During a 2009 court trial over 彼得·法尔克's care, Dr. Stephen Read stated that Falk's condition had deteriorated so badly that he could no longer remember playing a character named Columbo, nor could he identify who Columbo was. Falk died on June 23, 2011, at the age of eighty-three.
Originally, 平·克劳斯贝 was offered the role of Columbo. However, citing the fact that he didn't want to commit to a series, he refused the role. He also said, jokingly, that doing the series would interfere with his golf game.
Richard Levinson and William Link met in junior high school, kicking off a writing partnership that lasted until Levinson's death in 1987. The two put their stamp on a variety detective programs, including Mannix (1967), Ellery Queen (1975), and Murder, She Wrote (1984).
Some of the episodes established that Columbo carried a Colt snub nose revolver in his raincoat, which he pulled in rare episodes, and would occasionally remark that his wife, "the Mrs.", would not allow him to buy a new car because it "wasn't necessary", portraying the detective throughout the series as permanently driving an aged and battered 1959 Peugeot 403 Cabriolet.
Two episodes, season eleven, episode two, "No Time to Die", and season twelve, episode three, "Undercover", were based on the 87th Precinct novels by Ed McBain (a.k.a. 伊万·亨特), and therefore did not strictly follow the standard Columbo/inverted detective story format.
"Mrs. Columbo" (1979) was not technically related to the original Peter Falk series. Richard Levinson and William Link opposed the entire concept. NBC's Fred Silverman gave the okay to use the Columbo name and imply that Kate Mulgrew was his widowed/divorced wife (the series changed names and backstories several times during its short run).
The character of Columbo was created by the writing team of 理查·莱文森 and 威廉·林克, who said that Columbo was partially inspired by 陀思妥耶夫斯基's Crime and Punishment character Porfiry Petrovich, as well as G.K. Chesterton's humble cleric-detective Father Brown. Other sources claim Columbo's character was also influenced by Inspector Fichet from the French suspense-thriller movie Diabolique (1955).
The only time the subject of Columbo's first name is brought up by anyone is in the S4 episode "By Dawn's Early Light" when Colonel Rumford (Patrick McGoohan) asks him if he has a first name. Columbo responds "I do, but usually only my wife uses it."
Character actor Mike Lally appeared in 25 of the show's 69 episodes, making him the second most recurring person to appear in the series, behind Peter Falk. He was mostly cast as a background actor or extra with little or no dialogue. However, in "Now You See Him", Lally played the retired acrobat Columbo goes to interview at a boarding house where he lived.
In 1971 writer Steven Bochco was brought in by producers Dick Levinson and Bill Link to write the first episode "Murder by the Book", directed by Steven Spielberg. Bochco, who had no previous experience writing murder mysteries or police dramas, said he received "invaluable advice" from Levinson when he told Bochco that Peter Falk and Columbo were essentially the same man. Levinson told Bochco not to write for the Columbo character but write for Falk and trust Falk to use his own instinct and creativity to deliver the story. "Murder by the Book" won an Emmy for best writing.
A life-sized, bronze statue of Peter Falk as his iconic character stands on Falk Miksa Street in Budapest, Hungary. The figure features Columbo looking befuddled, wearing his rumpled raincoat and holding a cigar. Installed in 2014 at an estimated cost of $63,000, it is believed that the actor is a relative of the street's namesake, a 19th-century Hungarian political figure.
Peter Falk was diagnosed with dementia in 2007. By 2009, two years before his death, his doctor had reported that his condition had deteriorated to the point that Falk did not recognize photos of himself as the character nor had any recollection of ever playing Columbo.
There are theories that Mrs. Columbo wasn't real, but a technique used by Columbo to confuse the murderers or direct the conversation in a particular way. However, these are invalid, as there are numerous episodes wherein other characters have seen and/or spoken with Mrs. Columbo. An example of this is the scene in season four, episode four, "Troubled Waters", in which Columbo (Peter Falk) is on the ship looking for his wife and Captain Gibbon (Patrick Macnee) (the Captain of the ship) states that he has spoken with Mrs. Columbo, as "Columbo" is a name he could not forget. However, this does not mean that the anecdotes his used about his wife were true, but could be used to steer conversations towards his questions.
Columbo's Basset Hound make his first appearance in the season two premiere episode "Etude in Black". In real life the dog, named Henry, was a rescue dog, the same as Columbo had done on the show. The network wanted Columbo to have a partner for the second season, an idea Falk strongly opposed. However, as a compromise, he did agree to take on a dog as a sort of part time sidekick. Henry would also appear in several episodes of "Emergency!" as the Station 51 mascot. As with Columbo, the dozy hound was never given a name and is simply called "Dog".
It was established in two episodes that Columbo speaks fluent Italian. With his NYC accent and olive complexion he played a convincing Italian-American. In reality, Peter Falk was of Polish, Czech, and Hungarian ancestry and was not an Italian speaker.
Patrick McGoohan was actually considered to replace Peter Falk in 1977, one year before the first series was cancelled. McGoohan refused saying only Falk could play Columbo and he was satisfied with making guest appearances. McGoohan also directed five episodes including three of those in which he starred.
Columbo's iconic catchphrase "One more thing" was actually conceived when the show's creators, Dick Levinson and Bill Link, were writing the 1962 stage play "Prescription: Murder", which was adapted into the 1968 TV movie of the same name and starring Falk. According to Levinson: "We had a scene that was too short, and we had already had Columbo make his exit. We were too lazy to retype the scene, so we had him come back and say, 'Oh, just one more thing . . .' It was never planned."
Characters mention meeting Mrs. Columbo in various episodes, dispelling speculation that she doesn't exist. However, she never appears on screen, her name is never revealed, and her voice is never heard when Columbo talks to her on the phone.