1) What is Columbo's first name?
It was never given in the show. When Columbo is asked what his first name is, he says "Lieutenant". On another occasion, he is asked if he has a first name, and Columbo says, "I do, but my wife is about the only one who uses it."
There was an edition of the game "Trivial Pursuit" which claimed that Columbo's first name is "Philip," but this had no basis in the series, and was probably inserted as a way to prove a copyright violation if the game's materials were illegally copied. Later editions of "Trivial Pursuit" correctly state that the name was never mentioned.
For a close-up look at Columbo's name, as it appeared on his ID in the original series, see Columbo's First Name and decide for yourself. Also see Columbo's First Name and The Supreme Court: The "Philip Columbo" Story
2) Have we ever seen Mrs. Columbo?
No. There have been several times when she was supposed to appear, but she never did. She was reportedly seen (off-camera) by other characters in some episodes, and we have seen Columbo talking to her on the phone. We have seen her car, and a picture of her sister, Ruth, but that's the closest we've ever come to seeing Mrs Columbo.
For the full story, see All About Mrs Columbo.
3) What is Mrs Columbo's first name?
When Columbo is asked for his wife's name, he says "Mrs Columbo".
Although Mrs Columbo's first name was never used in "Columbo," the answer might have been given in a unique television appearance, when Columbo gave a speech at the "Dean Martin Celebrity Roast" of Frank Sinatra. For more on this remarkable event, see Columbo Meets Sinatra.
4) What is the name of Columbo's dog?
Columbo and his wife had hoped to pick the dog's name by watching him to see what he does, but all the dog does is drool and snore; so they just call him by whistling, or by saying "dog" or "hey you".
Some people believe that Dog is the creature's proper name, but this is a matter of interpretation.
Columbo briefly tried naming the dog Beethoven, but the dog didn't like it. To hear this bit of Columbo history, go to Columbo Sounds.
5) What kind of car does Columbo drive?
In the show, Columbo has referred to it as "a 1950 Peugeot". In reality, there have been two cars: a 1959 and a 1960 Peugeot model 403 cabriolet.
For more on the Peugeot 403, see Inside Columbo's Car.
Fans of Columbo's infamous vehicle will also want to see Columbo's Car Crashes, and the video compilation of Columbo's collisions in Columbo Video.
6) What kind of cigars does Columbo smoke?
Many cigar smokers would like to know, but there is no good answer to this question.
Our only clues are that Columbo says he gets these fellas at the supermarket, and that several other characters have commented on the pungent aroma or poor quality of Columbo's cigars; so we know that they're a cheap, generic brand.
At least one cameraman who worked on "Columbo" has said that Peter Falk would just grab any kind of cigar that was handy; and in fact, careful observation shows that Columbo's cigars were of various thicknesses and colors at different times.
This is consistent with Peter Falk's own attitude toward cigars: he enjoys them occasionally, but he claims no special appreciation for quality or brands. This is one of many topics discussed in Peter Falk's excellent interview with Arthur Marx (son of Groucho) in Cigar Aficionado magazine.
For much more information about Columbo's cigars, and
to see an exclusive close-up of the label on one of Columbo's cigars (maybe
you can recognize the brand!), see Cigars,
Smoking, and Columbo
. You might also enjoy the related article, Columbo
and Killers and Clues in the Smoke
. You might also enjoy the related article, Columbo
and Killers and Clues in the Smoke
7) Does Columbo have any children?
Like everything else Columbo says, this is open to question. For a discussion of the evidence, and for lots more on Columbo's family, see Columbo's Family Album.
8) Did Columbo ever lose a case?
Columbo always figured out who committed the murder -- usually within his first few minutes at the crime scene, but occasionally after more prolonged puzzlement, as in Columbo Cries Wolf.
However, there were times when a perpetrator was never charged.
In Forgotten Lady, Columbo feels he has "a problem" because the killer, Grace Wheeler (Janet Leigh), is suffering from a neurological disorder, and probably doesn't even recall the murder, and because she is dying. Columbo agrees with Grace's longtime co-star, Ned Diamond, that Ned's phony confession will probably hold up just long enough that Grace will die before she ever gets arrested.
Some fans might believe that Nelson Brenner (PatrickMcGoohan), the killer in Identity Crisis, will escape any prosecution due to his connections at the highest levels of the federal government, and his value as a CIA agent. However, it is questionable that the CIA will still consider him so valuable after the details of his treacherous, double-dealing scams are revealed.
In It's All In The Game, Columbo learns that the murder was committed by two women, a mother (Faye Dunaway) and her daughter; but he agrees to let the daughter escape to Europe, in exchange for the mother's confession.
9) Which actor appeared the most times as a killer on "Columbo"?
Patrick McGoohan (4 episodes), followed by Robert Culp and Jack Cassidy (3 episodes each). Culp also appeared in a fourth episode, but not as the killer.
10) How long has "Columbo" been on television? How many episodes are there?
Peter Falk first appeared as Columbo in a television movie, Prescription: Murder, copyrighted 1967 and broadcast early in 1968. Then there was a second movie, done as a pilot for the series, called Ransom For A Dead Man (1971).
The original series ran for 7 seasons on NBC, from 1971 to 1978, ending with The Conspirators. "Columbo" was one of several shows that ran in rotation as part of the NBC Mystery Movie; for more details, see Columbo Encyclopedia.
After an 11-year hiatus, ABC began a new "Columbo" series with Columbo Goes To The Guillotine in 1989, which continued as a series for 4 seasons, ending with Columbo: Undercover. After that, "Columbo" has appeared in a series of special television movies.
Including the pilot movies, and including the latest production "Columbo Likes The Nightlife", there have been 69 episodes of "Columbo".
For some interesting "then and now" images of Columbo, see Columbo's 30th Anniversary.
11) Where can I get tapes of "Columbo"?
Columbia House presently offers 30 of the original 45 episodes from the NBC series, and there are about 5 episodes that can be purchased from Amazon or similar sources, or which have been sold as a 5-tape set from A&E. For details, see Buy Columbo Episodes On Tape.
The ABC episodes have not been sold commercially.
Tape collectors might want to try the Columbo Classified Ads and look for opportunities to trade tapes.
Another good source is Ebay -- do a search for Columbo, and usually you will find a selection of episodes on tape, available for bidding.
Can I get "Columbo" on DVD?
It depends on where you are.
The Japan series of DVDs,
from "CDJapan", reportedly will include all of the "original" 45
episodes - a great coup, since only about 30 episodes have been made
available (on VHS tape) in the USA.
For details, go to http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/Listups/movie/columbo.html
In the UK, the first place
to ever have Columbo on DVD, go to the "Universal Playback" site at http://www.universal-playback.com/product.asp?productID=118.
offers 9 episodes, on 4 DVDs. Sorry, we don't know their plans for future
releases, but presumably good sales will encourage more DVDs.
In the USA, the sad news is
that there are no locally produced DVDs of Columbo - yet.
Columbia House has been
actively working on the project, with "Columbo Phile" author Mark Dawidziak (who also supervised production and wrote the excellent liner
notes for the Columbia House video tapes of "Columbo").
This DVD series should be a
true gem when it comes out, as the current plans include "bonus"
materials such as Mark Dawidziak interviewing Peter Falk and Bill Link about
production is currently stalled, as Universal is "sitting on" the DVD
rights for the USA. Universal does have its own series of DVDs for other
shows, which may be why they don't want to let someone else produce "Columbo" DVDs in the USA. But as of now, Universal has neither produced
"Columbo" DVDs themselves, nor have they licensed Columbia House to do
We hope that Universal will
do something soon, in the best interests of Columbo's fans in America.
Meanwhile, some fans wish to
know whether they can watch the Japanese DVDs at home, in the USA. The
answer isn't very simple.
DVDs are manufactured with
"regional coding", so that generally they can only be viewed on locally made
DVD players - "Region 1" in the USA, "Region 2" in the UK,
etc. Regional coding is, incidentally, overlaid on separate issues of video
format (NTSC in the USA, PAL in the UK, SECAM in France, etc.)
Japanese DVDs can be viewed
in the USA only if you have a "multi-regional" DVD player, or a player
that has been adapted to disable the regional coding. This gets into a grey
area, as the "multi-regional" setting seems to be a largely undocumented
feature. From anecdotes we have read, it might involve the salesman entering
a "secret" code, using the DVD player's remote, or sharing that code
with you. Or, some players might need to be modified with a hardware fix to
the chip. Also, you might find sources on the internet that sell
"multi-regional" DVD players, already pre-set to have this ability.
So, yes it is possible to
view Japanese DVDs in the USA. But, before buying Japanese DVDs, fans should
be sure that their machine will be able to play them.
Japanese DVDs have dual
sound tracks - you can choose English instead of Japanese when you play
them. There are no subtitles for the dialogue, although some episodes do
have subtitles just occasionally and briefly, to explain (in Japanese) the
meaning of a written clue, such as a sign or a note.
can I find "Columbo" on television?
these sites have similar "search listings" functions: you enter your
ZIP code, and whether you want cable, satellite or just regular broadcast
channels, and then you can search for key or title terms such as "columbo".
On the TVGuide site, you may have to first go to the current "TV
Listings" before the "Search Listings" option appears.
sites will search for all "columbo" broadcasts scheduled for about a
week to a month beyond your search date, depending upon the site and the
2001, A&E contracted to run the ABC "Columbo" movies, thus ending
the long run of those episodes on "FoxFamily Channel". As of March
2001, A&E also runs the original 1970s "Columbo" at odd hours,
thus making A&E possibly the first network to combine the "old"
and "new" series of "Columbo". The schedule is still evolving, so
check your listings.
do not find "Columbo" anywhere in your broadcast area or cable system
(or if you want MORE Columbo!), your only choice might be to invest in a
satellite system. Currently, the popular satellite services offer the
original "Columbo"" series on channels including WCCO (a CBS
station in Minneapolis) and KTVU (a Fox affiliate in San Francisco).
is the "phony gold" puzzle, from "The Bye Bye Sky High IQ Murder
room are several sacks of gold pieces, as many sacks as you like. Each
sack contains several of these gold pieces -- again, as many as you like.
One sack, however, is full of artificial gold pieces, and they weigh
differently. The solid gold pieces weigh, let's say, a pound each. And the
artificial pieces weigh, let's say, a pound and an ounce.
have a penny scale. You put the penny in, and you get a card, and that
tells you how much the weight of the gold is. But, you only have one
penny. You have one reading
on the weight.
sack has the artificial gold pieces?
answer (as deduced by Mrs Columbo):
let's just say there are three sacks. And each real gold piece weighs
one pound. But one of these sacks has the phony gold. And the phony gold
weighs one pound and one ounce.
going to the scale. Now, we take one piece from bag one, we take two
pieces from bag two, we take three pieces from bag three. That's six
pieces. We take all six pieces, we put em on the scale.
all six pieces were real the gold, it would weigh six pounds. But if the
first bag had the phony pieces, it would weigh six pounds and one ounce,
because I only took one piece from the first bag. And if the second bag
has phony gold pieces, it would weigh six pounds and two ounces, because I
took two pieces from the second bag. And if the third bag were the phony
bag, it would weigh six pounds and three ounces. And so on, and so on, and
Sir...it's a terrific puzzle.
question is asked quite often, which tends to surprise us since most of
the chorus consists of the title, "I Saw the Light".
One reason for the question, perhaps, is that so many "Columbo"
fans see the show dubbed into other languages.
the Light" is the song that Tommy Brown sings repeatedly, and which
becomes an important clue because Columbo notices that Tommy changed the
musical arrangement, before the plane crash, to better showcase the singer
who replaces his wife.
also sings part of "Sunday Morning Coming Down" at the picnic, a Kris
Kristofferson song which can be found on numerous Johnny Cash albums.
the Light" was composed by country music legend Hank Williams, Sr
(1923-1953), who wrote many popular songs including "Your Cheatin'
Heart" and "Jambalaya (Down On the Bayou)".
Williams also wrote "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", known to
"Columbo" fans as one of the songs that Vivian Dimitri listens to
while lamenting over her dead husband in "Rest In Peace, Mrs Columbo".
We don't know of an easy way to buy a recording of Johnny Cash singing "I Saw the Light".
Johnny did a great rendition of the song, with Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl
Perkins, Jr, , on an album called "The Survivors", recorded live at a
concert in Stuttgart, Germany in 1981. This album is now out of print, but
its version of "I Saw the
Light" floats around the internet as an .MP3. (Thanks to Steve Baratta
for letting us know about the "Survivors" performance.)
the lyrics as originally written by Hank Williams Sr, complete with chord
and music by Hank Williams Sr.
wandered so aimless life filed with sin
wouldn't let my dear savior [G] in
Jesus came like a stranger in the night
the Lord [D7] I saw the [G] light.
the light, I saw the light
more darkness no more [G] night
so happy no sorrow in sight
the Lord [D7] I saw the [G] light.
like a blind man I wandered along
and fears I claimed for my own
like the blind man that God gave back his sight
the Lord I saw the light.
I was a
fool to wander and stray
is the gate and narrow the way
have traded the wrong for the right
the Lord I saw the light.
16) Where can I write to Peter Falk?
The best way to write to Peter Falk is through Universal Studios, where he maintains offices.
Peter Falk, Universal Studios, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608
Who sings "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" in the episode "Rest In Peace,
is one of the most frequently asked "Columbo" questions of all time.
Columbo fans in large numbers are captivated, almost haunted by the
recording that Vivian Dimitri listens to as she sits alone, deep in
depression, sipping wine, fondling a stuffed toy, and gazing at slides of
her dead husband.
hard information on the singer's identity is elusive.
German Columbo site offered the speculation that it's jazz artist
Shirley Horn -- but no documentation is offered, and we have never found
any evidence that such a recording was made by Shirley.
fan once said that the singer is "definitely" Cassandra Jones, who
does have an album featuring this song. However, Cassandra's recording
didn't come out until years after "RIP, Mrs Columbo".
fan was so determined to get the answer, that she attempted to contact the
musical director of the episode -- but nothing came of that effort.
we think we have the best answer available.
So Lonesome I Could Cry" is featured on a Cowboy Junkies album, called
"The Trinity Session", released in 1988 - two years before "RIP
Mrs Columbo". (It's also included on the "Best of Cowboy Junkies"
The Cowboy Junkies rendition is
virtually identical to the recording in "RIP Mrs Columbo" --
same arrangement, similar voice and same style.
Note-for-note, almost exactly the same.
The "studio musician clone" theory seems most likely -- just based on studio economics (and the lack of a credit for Cowboy Junkies). So, we may never know the actual identity of the singer in the television show.
for Columbo fans who are fond of the recording of this song in "RIP
Mrs Columbo" (and there are many, many such fans!), we suggest that
they would be extremely happy with the "Cowboy Junkies" CD.
we don't have any information on the other recording that Vivian listens
to - a slow, sad version of "It Had To Be You". But, this one has
never generated anywhere near the number of inquiries as "I'm So
So Lonesome I Could Cry" is, incidentally, written by the late, great
country artist Hank Williams, Sr., whose other songs include "I Saw the
Light", famously performed by Johnny Cash in "Swan Song".
18) What about the new episodes, "The Man Who Murdered Himself", and "Murder By Suicide"?
about these two episodes, supposedly coming out in 2002, have appeared in
The Internet Movie Database. The IMDb also claims that Joel Grey will
co-star in "The Man Who Murdered Himself". Other sources have picked
up on it, and have repeated the story.
that information is wrong.
have it on excellent sources that the Joel Grey story is a complete hoax.
Moreover, while we have heard that a script called "The Man Who Murdered
Himself" has been around for a while, it is absolutely false that the
script will be produced in 2002.
By Suicide" was written by Frank D'Angeli, a friend of this site (see
Scrapbook article, "An Open Letter of Thanks", http://www.columbo-site.freeuk.com/openletter.htm).
"Murder By Suicide" is an excellent story, and we hope to see it
produced some day - but, the author assures us that there is no current
decision to produce it as a new episode. So, the IMDb story about this
episode is clearly another hoax.
IMDb is a valuable resource, but it accepts essentially anonymous
contributions, which occasionally turn out to be pranks or mistakes.
Unfortunately this is an example of them publishing a false story, which
has continued to spread.
next episode after "Murder With Too Many Notes" is definitely "Columbo Likes The Nightlife" (2002). And if that is successful enough
for ABC, current plans are to follow that with an episode (title unknown)
which involves a murder around a "reality-based" TV show.