Peter Falk, the son of European immigrants who played the most famous detective in TV history, has died at 83 years old. Falk, who won three Emmys for his portrayal of raincoat-sporting Lt. Frank Columbo on NBC from 1971-78 and in later reprises, suffered from dementia possibly related to Alzheimer’s disease, the Associated Press reported.
Born in New York City and raised in upstate Ossining, Falk studied at the New School for Social Research and earned a master’s in public administration from Syracuse University.
He worked off-Broadway before gaining film roles in Wind Across the Everglades (1958), The Bloody Brood (1959) and Pretty Boy Floyd (1960). One of his last roles was in the 2005 film "Checking Out," in which he played an aging Jewish actor who gathers his whole family to say goodbye before he commits suicide, unless they can talk him out of it. Perhaps his most famous non-Columbo role was in 1978’s The In-Laws, with Alan Arkin.
His right eye was surgically removed after he developed a tumor at the age of 3.
The glass eye was part of his signature look for the Columbo character, along with his feigned absent-mindedness. Columbo became best known for his catch-phrase, "Just one more thing."
Falk served with the U.S. Merchant Marines at the end of World War II and then signed up to go to Israel to fight against Egypt. But in his 2006 memoir, "Just One More Thing," he said "the war, to everyone’s amazement, was over in the blink of an eye."