Special Thanks to Neal Silverman for the information
Veteran actor Michael Lally, like John Finnegan, appeared in many episodes of
"Columbo" in many different guises.
Fans will best remember him from the classic scene in "Now You See Him," as the
broken-down high-wire performer who knew Santini back in the old days in Europe, when
Santini went by a different name and had different accents.
Columbo visits Lally at his boarding house and asks him all kinds of questions
about his rent, the hotplate, the television and the shower -- trying to set the
old gentleman at ease about his humble surroundings, Columbo behaves for all
the world as though he's seriously thinking of moving into the building. A great
Michael Lally most often appeared in tiny roles -- usually uncredited, sometimes
without lines, but always adding the colorful presence of a great old character
actor. So, the next time you watch a "Columbo" episode -- see if you can
Here is a partial list of Michael Lally's appearances,
sent to us by Neal Silverman a most observant and knowledgeable
By the Book
- Mike can be spotted
as one of the crime-scene cops on the lawn, where Franklin has dumped
Ferris’ body. He is wearing one of his treasured fedora hats.
Thanks to Gilbert Hetu and to
Anthony Rigo for spotting Mike Lally!
Fuse - Mike Lally can be seen near the end, as the tram
attendant who ushers Columbo, Roddy McDowall and William Windom onto the
Thanks to Dan McWilliams, for spotting Mike Lally!
For Murder," when Columbo goes to the Building Department,
seeking permission to dig up the foundation at the construction site, Mike
Lally is seen on line, behind Columbo.
Etude In Black - Plays the mechanic's
assistant at the foreign car repair shop, where the maestro brings his car. Lally hands
the Scottish mechanic a wrench, then Cassavetes arrives, honking his horn for attention.
The Scottish mechanic says "There's his nibs again", and Mike's shrug of disgust
says it all.
A Stitch In Crime - played a crime
scene investigator. He gives Columbo a bottle of orange juice. Columbo says
"No coffee?" and Mike says "We're woiking on it."
Identity Crisis -- played a cab driver
who tells Sgt Kramer that he had driven Leslie Nielsen to the pier, where the murder took
Any Old Port In A Storm -- played a
bartender; knowing temperature was a clue,
Columbo asks him about the weather on a day the previous week, and Mike says,
"Mister, give me a break, I'm lucky if I know what day it is".
Candidate For Crime -- There is one scene
in Nelson Hayward's (Jackie Cooper's)
home, where Columbo has arrived unexpectedly to question him. Hayward is coming down
the stairs with a group of his political advisers, discussing strategy. Sure
enough, one of these advisers is clearly Michael Lally -- wearing a very nice suit,
complete with a Nelson Hayward campaign button.
(Thanks to Yuko Kokubu)
or Perish - During the barroom scene, while Riley
Greenleaf (Jack Cassidy) behaves obnoxiously to establish
his alibi, Mike Lally appears in the background -- behind
the bartender who is taking abuse from Greenleaf. Mike
is an assistant bartender, wearing a white shirt and red
vest like the bartender in the foreground. If you blink, you
will miss him! Soon afterward, Mike is outside, in
the bar's parking lot.
We mostly see him from behind, still wearing the red
vest, as Greenleaf bumps into Mike while leaving the scene of the car
accident -- then we catch a glimpse of his face. Although both shots are
amazingly quick, it is remarkable for Mike to appear in two separate
Mind Over Mayhem -- played a computer
technician in the opening scene, enacting
a computer simulation of World War III. Mike, in a blue lab coat, takes print-outs from
the terminals (which come out of the machines on cash register tape) and relays them,
announcing "China air attack, 13 hundred" and "sub-missile attack --
A Friend In Deed -- played a bartender in
the seedy joint where Artie Jessup
drinks; he offers to turn off the TV when Artie gives the razzberry to the Police
Commissioner's televised speech. Later, he makes Artie explode by telling him the
wife wants him home.
Old Fashioned Murder -- played
photographer at crime scene in museum.
A Case Of
Immunity -- played a crime scene investigator at Arab
consulate; gets a bit irritated with Columbo for disturbing evidence before
he has photographed it.
By Dawn's Early Light -- again played an
investigator at the crime scene; he hands the victim's car keys to Sgt. Kramer.
Troubled Waters - played a waiter,
wearing a red jacket, who takes Robert Vaughn's order for Scotch and soda.
Playback - In the barroom scene, where Columbo sees a
football "instant replay" on television, Mike is one of the guys (on the left)
watching the game and cheering. Thanks to Anthony Rigo for spotting Mike Lally!
Double Shock -- played messenger at
bank; Martin Landau is handing him some money.
Forgotten Lady -- played a guest at Janet
Leigh's party, very nattily dressed, telling other guests that Janet was about to
show one of her old movies.
Negative Reaction -- as Columbo walks to
the mission, he waves to a derelict on
a stoop ("Hiya, Pop!") and gets directions; the derelict is not seen in closeup,
but would appear to be Michael Lally.
Swan Song-- In the meeting after the
concert with Johnny Cash's wife, Ida Lupino, there is a man tallying up figures in the
background, who tells her "Mrs Brown, your end of the take is 30 thousand." He
is Mike Lally, slightly disguised in glasses.
Double Exposure - Not exactly a
"sighting," more a case of voice recognition.
Victor Norris (Robert Middleton ) arrives at the murder scene in his limo. The security
guard is seen for just a moment through the car window, and as the limo drives past, we
hear a voice saying "Oh, Mr. Norris. Good evening, sir." Mike Lally's
voice is distinctive, and fans who have heard it may be convinced that the guard, or the
actor who supplied his voice, can only be Mike Lally.
Requiem For A Falling Star - Another
"sighting" that's more of another voice recognition.
After Anne Baxter tries to run down Mel Ferrer, Lt. C. is on the case, asking
everybody there if he is a Shriner or if he has a Shriner's ring. We now cut
immediately to the movie stage, where Lt. C. barges in while Anne is filming a
There is a uniformed security guard at the entrance to the sound stage, who says to
Columbo, "Hey, Mister, you can't go in there." Columbo tells him it's a
police emergency and goes right in. The guard kind of shrugs his shoulders.
The guard is not clearly seen, but the Brooklyn/Irish dialect and soft/raspy voice are
very suggestive that Mike Lally is on the job again.
An Exercise In Fatality -
Milo Janus enters his club, walks past a row of men on exercise bikes, and chats with
Buddy Castle (Pat Harrington). Milo exchanges greetings with a white-haired gentleman on
the nearest exercise bike -- Mike Lally:
"Hiya, Mr, Janus!" "Hey Charlie, How's it
goin?...You're lookin good."
Mike is seen, pedaling away, throughout Milo's conversation with
(Thanks to David Sherman for spotting Mike Lally!)
Salute To The Commodore - When Columbo and Sgt.
Kramer go to Charles Clay's (Robert Vaughn's) house and find that he has been murdered,
there is Mike, playing one of his usual roles -- the crime scene
investigator/photographer. You see him in the background, taking photographs, talking to
other cops, etc.
Make Me A Perfect Murder
- Mike plays a security guard, who casually walks through a reception area while Kay is
rushing back from the murder scene to the projection booth. Kay has only 40 seconds left,
so she looks pretty desperate, hiding from Mike while he takes his time looking at the
centerfold in a "girlie" magazine.
The Bye Bye Sky-High
I.Q. Murder Case - Mike can clearly be seen playing chess in the bar of
the Sigma Society.
Murder Under Glass
-- In the scene where Columbo and Paul Gerard walk and talk through the produce market, we
see Mike as the fruit seller, holding the bag, standing behind them and briefly walking
Negative Reaction - This
might be a Mike Lally "double feature," with Mike in dual appearances.
We have already noted him as "Pop," the bum sitting in the
doorway, who is greeted by Columbo and gives him directions as Columbo walks through a
depressed neighborhood to meet Mr. Dolan at the soup kitchen. Consider this earlier scene:
Police have discovered the body of Mrs. Galesko at "the
ranch." There seems to be a great deal of activity. The fingerprint man is dusting
and finding Alvin Deschler's prints all over, and Calvin McGruder is telling the story of
the sale of the "ranch" to Alvin.
Out of the blue, we hear a conversation something like this:
voice 1: "I wonder how long she's been dead."
voice 2: "Why are you asking me? Do I look like a doctor?"
The funny thing is that we do not see anyone who might belong to
voice 1 or voice 2. What is funnier is that voice 2 sounds exactly like Michael Lally.
Here's one that we have to rate a "possible"
-- and it's not exactly a Mike Lally "role,"
but it is an interesting and unique appearance.
In "The Greenhouse Jungle," the victim's wife
rummages through a drawer in her bedroom, under the
watchful eye of Sergeant Wilson (Bob Dishy), looking
for the gun that was recently removed by Ray Milland.
We see a framed photograph on the dresser. It is a picture
of an older gentleman, who bears considerable resemblance
to...yes, Mike Lally.
Thanks to Dan McWilliams for this contribution.