R.I.P. Peter Falk

Nineteen years to the day after Peter Falk started work on the film Wings of Desire, I had the occasion to sit down and talk with him for about an hour. He was in Michigan as part of a speaking tour, and it was one of the happiest days of my life. I plan to post the resulting interview here in the next day or two (once I figure out how to use Linette’s scanner), but, in the meantime, I thought that I’d reprint the blog entry that I posted that evening… Here it is.

I’m happy to report that upon meeting my idol I did not collapse into a pant-shitting heap. In fact, I did quite well. He even complimented me at one point on my interviewing skills… He liked the fact that I brought up his old friend, and four-time Columbo nemesis, Patrick McGoohan, and reminded him that it had been 19 years ago this very morning that “Wings of Desire” had begun filming… I can’t tell you how cool it is to have Columbo lean across a table, put his hand on your arm, smile, and compliment you on your observation skills.

I’m also happy to report that he’s a genuinely nice guy. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I didn’t think that he’d be as open and warm as he was. (It’s always nice when your idols don’t turn out to be assholes.) I also didn’t expect him to say “fuck” and “tits” as many times as he did, but it was kind of endearing in a way.

Part of me wants to figure out how to podcast the interview, but I think I’m going to try to transcribe it instead, submitting part of it for publication in the Ann Arbor Paper, and putting the rest of it in the perpetually “upcoming” issue of Crimewave… There’s lots of shit I’d like to write about in the news today, but I think I’ll sit here and work on the transcription instead. Today is a little highlight in my life and I want to enjoy it for a while before I get sucked back into watching the Cheney cabal go down in flames.

As for today, I’d like to thank a few people for making it happen; my friend Monica for tipping me to the event, her housemate Steve (a jazz guitarist who had been hired to warm up for Columbo) for getting me in touch with the organizers of the event, and the women on the Events Committee of the Downriver Town Hall lecture series for allowing me to have a little bit of Mr. Falk’s time. It seriously couldn’t have gone any better, and I have all of them to thank for it.

Anyway, I hope that serves as a suitable eulogy for an artist whom I truly respected. While I am truly saddened by his passing, I’m happy to know that he no longer has to battle Alzheimer’s or contend with the assholes of present day America.

I don’t know that I ever mentioned it here, but Falk gave me his phone number when we met. I’m not sure how I restrained myself, but I only called him once. In retrospect, I should have called him more. I don’t have a lot of regrets in life, but I feel as though I should have tried harder to get him that last episode of Columbo that he wanted.

So, with that, I plan to leave you for the evening, and begin my Columbo marathon.

For those of you unfamiliar with Falk’s work, I’d suggest starting with the first season of Columbo, which you can buy really cheap here. For those of you too cheap to do that, here are few video clips showing Falk at work.

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  1. dragon
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    “Oh, by the way, there’s just one more thing…”

    Did you ask him about his art?


  2. Can't Buy Me Love
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Peter Falk could portray wisdom, skepticism, curiosity, bewilderment and carnal understanding in the same small frame. Maybe that’s all he could do. I can’t think of another actor who could convey so much. I also can’t think of Falk being able to convey anything less.

    I was really glad for Wings of Desire. Colombo was great TV. WoD made full use of his particular gift. I’m very glad you were able to speak with him.

  3. Posted June 25, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Wings of Desire is one of my all time favorites. Thanks for posting this.

  4. kjc
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    nice post. rip.

  5. b
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad you got the chance to meet him….

  6. Christine M
    Posted June 26, 2011 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    It never occurred to me that you liked Wings of Desire which is one of my favorite films. WOW Amazing story. Totally envious and truly touched.

  7. Bob
    Posted June 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    You gotta mention The In-Laws, one of my favorite American comedies.

  8. hemp
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    He uses his deferential and absent-minded persona to lull criminal suspects into a false sense of security by harassing and pestering suspects non-stop– without letting them know that theyre suspects– under the pretense that hes simply being a pesky detective in order to spy on them and agitate them into giving up clues…… Youre a bag of tricks Columbo right down to that prop cigar you use.

  9. iRobert
    Posted January 19, 2020 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    I’m watching the Columbo episode with Eddie Albert right now on MeTV. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.

  10. iRobert
    Posted February 16, 2020 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Now I’m watching the episode with Janis Paige. It’s another one I hadn’t seen before.

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  1. […] [This post is dedicated to Peter Falk. I only talked with him a few times, but he was a hell of a guy.] […]

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