'Columbo' actor Peter Falk dies at 83

'Columbo' actor Peter Falk dies at 83

Peter Falk'
Peter Falk's best-known role may have been as the TV detective Lt. Columbo, but he also starred in movies and plays.

(CNN) -- Actor Peter Falk, who rose to fame on a shambling manner and a rumpled raincoat as the TV detective Lt. Columbo, has died. He was 83.

Falk died peacefully at his Beverly Hills home Thursday evening, according to a statement released by his friend, attorney Larry Larson. The cause of death was not released.

Though he was a renowned movie and stage actor -- he earned two Oscar nominations in the early '60s and won an Obie (an off-Broadway honor) for his performance in Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh" -- he is best remembered for the polite, raincoat-wearing, Peugeot-driving Los Angeles police detective who always wanted to know "just one more thing."

That line -- which usually meant that the seemingly absent-minded detective was about to outwit his perfect-crime-committing suspects -- became so popular that Falk used it as the title of his memoir.

The character, which originated with "Columbo" writers and producers William Link and Richard Levinson, was given a unique spin by the actor.

"Before we ever had a script or anything, I was attracted to the idea of playing a character that housed within himself two opposing traits," Falk told CNN's Larry King in 2005. "On the one hand (he was) a regular Joe, Joe Six-Pack, the neighbor like everybody else. But, at the same time, the greatest homicide detective in the world. Now that's a great combination, and you can do a lot with that combination."

Falk first played Columbo in a 1968 TV movie "Prescription: Murder" and revived it three years later when the character became a regular part of the "NBC Mystery Movie," a series that also included Dennis Weaver's "McCloud" and "McMillan & Wife" with Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James. "Columbo" was the most popular of the "Mystery Movie" offerings, so much so that Falk was rumored to earn more than $250,000 an episode in the late '70s.

But Falk, who also starred in the films "The In-Laws" (1979), "Wings of Desire" (1987), "The Princess Bride" (1987) and several by his friend John Cassevetes, generally remained unimpressed with himself.

"I just keep working," he said. "I've never worried about the grand concepts. My philosophy is that I just try to get through the day," he told The New York Times in a 1990 interview.

Peter Michael Falk was born in New York City on September 16, 1927, and raised in Ossining, New York. After military service, he earned a master's in public administration and went to work for the Connecticut State Budget Bureau in Hartford as an efficiency expert.

"I was doing exactly what I was born not to do," he wrote in his memoir.

However, Hartford had a small theater troupe, and Falk immediately joined, which led to participation in other companies. Within a couple years -- while still working as a civil servant -- he was set to play Richard III at a summer workshop in Westport when, he says, a statement from acting teacher Eva Le Gallienne changed his life.

As Le Gallienne upbraided him for his chronic lateness -- he had to drive 45 minutes from Hartford every week -- Falk confessed that he wasn't really an actor. "Well, you should be," Le Gallienne replied, and that was enough for Falk to quit his job.

Soon he was a regular presence on the New York stage, earning raves for his performance as the bartender in "The Iceman Cometh." (One of his jobs, he recalled, was keeping the other actors awake during the 4 ½-hour play.) His work there and on TV led to an interview with Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn. Cohn was concerned about Falk's glass eye, the result of an operation Falk had had as a child, and wanted the actor to take a screen test. Falk said there was nothing to talk about and refused.

"Young man, for the same price I'll get an actor with two eyes," Cohn retorted, according to Falk's memoir.

Falk's film breakthrough came in 1960's "Murder, Inc." in which he played gangster Abe Reles. The performance earned him a best supporting actor Oscar nomination. He earned another Oscar nomination for his performance in the next year's "Pocketful of Miracles," director Frank Capra's last film.

Falk went back and forth between film, TV and the stage in the '60s. He had the lead in the short-lived TV series "The Trials of O'Brien," cast as a lawyer, and played Joseph Stalin in the even more short-lived "The Passion of Josef D.," a Paddy Chayefsky play, on Broadway. He also appeared in the films "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1963), "The Great Race" (1965) and "Luv" (1967).

But it was "Columbo" that made Falk's name. The TV movie character, which succeeded a play and TV episode that included him, was originally offered to Bing Crosby, of all people. But "Der Bingle" turned it down allegedly because it would get in the way of his golf game, according to Tim Brooks' and Earle Marsh's Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable Shows.

The series turned the standard mystery structure inside out. Instead of being revealed at the end, the criminal and the crime were shown in great detail in the show's opening scenes. It was then up to Columbo to stumble onto the scene and figure out whodunit -- something the audience already knew.

The series had a storied run, winning seven Emmys -- including four for Falk. Steven Spielberg, then unknown, directed the first episode, and stars included Robert Culp, Ray Milland, Robert Vaughn and Cassavetes.

On the big screen, Falk's roles included parts in Cassavetes' gritty, verite films, such as "A Woman Under the Influence" (1974), as well as broad comedies, most notably "The In-Laws" (1979). In the latter, he played a CIA agent who drags a new friend, a dentist played by Alan Arkin, into a plot that involves currency printing plates and a coup in an unnamed Latin American country.

Falk's choice of roles was often quirky and unusual. After the initial run of "Columbo" ended, he starred in "... All the Marbles" (1981) as the manager of female wrestlers; German director Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire" as an existentially blocked version of himself; and "The Princess Bride" as a storytelling grandfather.

"Columbo" returned for a series of movies in 1989 and ran, sporadically, until 2003.

In recent years, Falk had periods of furious activity -- he had three credits in 1995 and four in 2000, according to the Internet Movie Database -- and relaxed almost-retirement. In 2008, his daughter said he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease in a filing for conservatorship. Early that year, Falk had been found disoriented on a Beverly Hills street, and that summer he suffered a head injury in an auto accident.

The conservatorship was granted to his wife, Shera, in June 2009. A doctor who evaluated Falk testified that the condition had worsened since a series of dental operations in 2007 and a hip procedure in 2008, and that the actor couldn't remember "Columbo."

But Falk always wanted to move on to the next thing, anyway. Taking a tip from his friend Cassavetes, he refused to repeat himself -- one reason his characters, even the ones he played more than once, always seemed so fresh.

"If your mind is at work, we're in danger of reproducing another cliché," he once said. "If we can keep our minds out of it and our thoughts out of it, maybe we'll come up with something original."

Falk is survived by his wife of 34 years, Shera; and two daughters, Catherine and Jackie, whom he adopted during his first marriage, to Alyce Mayo.

Through a spokesman, Falk's daughters said: "His daughters will always remember him for his wisdom and humor, time shared on vacations and hockey games, and for wild rides through the streets of Los Angeles with a one-eyed driver."

テーマ : Global Information
ジャンル : ニュース

Nicolas Cage arrested for domestic abuse

Nicolas Cage arrested for domestic abuse

Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage was taken into custody on Friday night

Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage has been arrested in New Orleans after a drunken argument with his wife outside a residence in the French Quarter, police said.

The 47-year-old film star was taken into custody at about 11:30pm on Friday (local time) and charged on suspicion of domestic abuse battery, disturbing the peace and public drunkenness, New Orleans Police spokesman Garry Flot said in a written statement.

Cage was expected to make an initial court appearance on Saturday afternoon.

According to the statement, Cage was observed arguing with his wife on a street in the city's French Quarter.

"[Cage] and his wife were standing in front of a residence that he insisted was the property the couple was renting," Mr Flot said in the statement.

"She disagreed and Cage grabbed her by the upper arm and pulled her to what he believed was the correct address."

The actor then began striking cars and tried to get into a taxi cab, Mr Flot said.

"At that point, an officer who had been flagged down by onlookers drove up on the couple, immediately observed that Cage was heavily intoxicated, and ordered him out of the cab, which prompted Cage to start yelling. The officers subsequently took Cage to Central Lock-Up," Flot said.

There were no visible injuries to Cage's wife, he said.

Cage, the nephew of film director Francis Ford Coppola, is best known for such films as Raising Arizona, Gone in 60 Seconds and National Treasure.

He has twice been nominated for an Academy Award, winning the Oscar for his portrayal of a down-and-out alcoholic in the 1995 film "Leaving Las Vegas."

テーマ : Global Information
ジャンル : ニュース

Jackie Chan, HK stars to raise funds for Japan

Jackie Chan, HK stars to raise funds for Japan

Jackie Chan
Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan performs at the opening ceremony of the Sportaccord Combat …

Action hero Jackie Chan and other Hong Kong celebrities will hold a charity concert on April 1 to raise funds for disaster-stricken Japan, where more than 27,000 are dead or missing.

"We as members of the entertainment industry wish to bring hope and support to the people of Japan," said Chan, one of the initiators of the concert, in a statement.

The veteran movie star will be joined by performers from Taiwan, China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia for the concert at Hong Kong's Victoria Park.

The event will feature a theme song called "Succumb not to sorrow", which is based on a popular Japanese poem that praises the tenacity of Japanese people in the face of hardship.

The organising committee, which comprises 19 art and film groups, said they aimed to raise funds for relief packs -- that include food, drinking water, personal care products and blanket -- for up to 80,000 disaster victims.

More than 27,000 people are dead or missing since a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit northeast Japan on March 11, also crippling a nuclear plant.

テーマ : Global Information
ジャンル : ニュース

Chan, Hong Kong stars to stage concert for Japan

Chan, Hong Kong stars to stage concert for Japan


Jackie Chan and other Hong Kong stars will stage a charity concert on April 1 to raise funds for victims of Japan's massive earthquake and tsunami.

The veteran action star and dozens of Hong Kong singers and actors on Thursday recorded the theme song for the concert, "Succumb Not to Sorrow." The song is based on an inspirational Japanese poem.

Addressing the Japanese victims, Chan said, "You will not be alone. We will always be by your side."

Others attending the recording session include singers Alan Tam, Hacken Lee, Shirley Kwan and Chinese-American rapper Jin. TV stars Bosco Wong, Myloie Wu and Michael Tse also took part.

Proceeds from the concert at Hong Kong's Victoria Park will go to the Salvation Army.

テーマ : Global Information
ジャンル : ニュース

Charlie Sheen expands live tour to 5 more cities

Charlie Sheen expands live tour to 5 more cities

Charlie Sheen
Reuters – "Two and a Half Men" producer Chuck Lorre and actor Charlie Sheen in a combo image. REUTERS/Files

LOS ANGELES – Charlie Sheen is bringing his live show to five more venues, including New York's famed Radio City Music Hall.

Sheen is adding five dates to his "Violent Torpedo of Truth" tour. Tickets go on sale Thursday for performances in Ohio, Connecticut, Boston and New York City.

The actor's shows in Detroit and Chicago on April 2 and 3 sold out quickly. Additional performances are scheduled for April 5 in Cleveland, April 6 in Columbus, Ohio, and April 8 at Radio City Music Hall. He will also perform at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, Conn., and at Boston's Agganis Arena on April 12.

Sheen was fired last week from the hit CBS show "Two and a Half Men." He then sued the show's producers for $100 million for breach of contract.

テーマ : Global Information
ジャンル : ニュース

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