My wife and me watched the very first episode of Columbo named Prescription Murder this morning. Peter Falk was 41 at the time in 1968. It would be three years later in 1971, before it became a regular series. By the time the last episode was filmed in 2003 Falk was 76 years old.
Gene Barry guest starred in the first show as a doctor, who conspired with his girlfriend to murder his wife. He thought he had pulled off the perfect crime, but Columbo’s dogged persistence in finding out that Barry’s character Dr. Ray Flemming was the killer paid off.
The first episode was shown in 1968 as a pilot episode. Then another pilot episode was shown in March of 1971, before Columbo became a regular series in September of 1971.
Only 68 episodes were shown of Columbo in its 35 year history. Columbo was never a weekly show, which may have worked in its favor, since it was a special event anytime an episode was shown.
Bing Crosby was originally chosen to play the part of Columbo, but he said filming would interfere with his playing golf, so he turned it down. It was a good thing he turned it down, since Falk was perfect for the role.
Columbo was strictly known by his last name and his first name Frank was never spoken in the 35 year history of the show.
My favorite catch phrase from Columbo was his famous “Just one more thing” line he would say, when questioning a witness or suspect.
There is a long list of well-known actors and actresses who guest starred in Columbo. Some of those names are William Shatner, Ray Milland, Leslie Nielsen, Janet Leigh, Faye Dunaway, Vincent Price and Valerie Harper.
Wikipedia lists all the episodes of Columbo: