25 Jun 2011

'Columbo' actor Peter Falk dies

10:29 am on 25 June 2011

Peter Falk, the star of the 1970s hit TV drama Columbo has died at the age of 83.

The actor passed away peacefully at his home in Beverly Hills, a statement from his wife's lawyer said.

Born on 16 September 1927, in New York City, Falk was the son of a store owner. He began acting as a child in school and later joined the US Merchant Marine, after which he returned to school, eventually receiving a master's degree from Syracuse University in 1953.

His love of acting took him to community theatre and from there to off-Broadway productions, then Broadway and on to Hollywood screen roles.

He earned two Oscar nominations for supporting roles in 1960's Murder, Inc.and in Pocketful of Miracles the following year.

Falk gained fame as police lieutenant Columbo, whose seeming absent-mindedness was actually a ruse to cover for his shrewd questioning of suspects and investigations.

As a child, the actor's right eye had been surgically removed due to a malignant tumor and was replaced with a glass eye - a physical trademark that ended up enhancing his role as the disheveled, oddball crime sleuth.

After Columbo, Falk enjoyed numerous TV and film roles, continuing to working up until 2009.

Along with his two daughters, Falk is survived by Shera, his wife of 34 years and daughters Catherine and Jackie from a previous marriage.

In 2008, his daughter Catherine Falk filed court papers seeking to place his business and personal affairs under conservatorship and away from his wife Shera because, Catherine revealed, he was suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia.

On Friday, his daughters issued a statement saying they had not been informed of their father's death and instead learned of it through the media.