Thursday, October 05, 2006

Style Points

We’ve previously addressed the mystery of Lieutenant Columbo’s first name here in The Rap Sheet. Now let’s talk about the source of that renowned TV detective’s signature rumpled raincoat. In an interview with Michigan’s Saginaw News, actor Peter Falk, 79, traces his character’s sartorial biases to his own clothes closet.
He told of finding a bunch of stylish clothes laid out for him to consider wearing for the show’s debut. He went home, he said, and got a shabby old raincoat from his closet and then asked wardrobe to dye one of the nice suits laid out a dull brown--noting how Charlie Chaplin and Art Carney characters were defined by what they wore.

When told to go pick out a car on the movie lot for Columbo to drive, he found nothing to his liking.

“They all looked alike, and then I saw it way in the back, just its nose [an ugly Peugeot],” he said. “And it had the perfect touch ... a flat tire.”
One other interesting note from the Saginaw interview: Asked which other actor he might have chosen to portray Columbo, Falk suggests not Bing Crosby--who was in fact courted for the role, before turning it down--but the aforementioned Carney, who’d made his reputation originally playing opposite Jackie Gleason in The Honeymooners, and later starred in two other TV mystery ventures: the 1972 pilot film for The Snoop Sisters (a role taken over by Lou Antonio in the subsequent series) and the short-lived 1977 detective drama Lanigan’s Rabbi.

“Art Carney could have been fantastic [as Columbo] ...,” Falk remarks, “but I really don’t know what another actor would have done. Can’t answer that.”

Neither can we.

(Hat tip to TV Squad.)

READ MORE:Peter Falk Was the Third Columbo,” by Bob
Sassone (TV Squad).

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