RIP: Peter Falk, 1927-2011

Zero Mostel in "The Producers" and Peter Falk as Columbo
Zero Mostel in "The Producers" and Peter Falk as Columbo

It just doesn’t seem fair…

Last month, I went to Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield and saw Jim Brochu’s marvelous, one-man, tour de force performance as the late actor-artist Zero Mostel. Never having seen Mostel onstage, I was excited about seeing the show because he starred in one of my all-time favorite films, “The Producers.” And I was more than a bit disappointed when the character of Mostel wrote off his work in “The Producers” in a mere three lines, including, “I hate that movie.” He went on to bemoan the fact that, “With 15 Broadway shows, 15 movies and 5,000 paintings left behind, you know how I’m going to be forever known? Ah yes, Mostel – he’s the fat guy from ‘The Producers.'”

I thought about that again reading the many tributes to Peter Falk last Friday. The various headlines all read:
“Columbo” actor Peter Falk dies at 83
Peter Falk, TV’s Rumpled Columbo, Has Died
“Columbo” Star Peter Falk Dead
Peter Falk, star of “Columbo,” dies at 83

It made me wince and shake my head. Yes, that was how Peter Falk would be remembered – a rumpled raincoat and a catch-phrase, “Ahhh, there’s just one more thing…”

Of course, Falk did so much more – and better – work than that. He starred in two of my other all-time favorite films, “The In-Laws” and “Wings of Desire,” two fabulous, enduring movies that seem to have absolutely nothing in common with each other except for Falk’s pitch-perfect performances. And there’s the great, gritty stuff he did with Cassavetes. And “The Princess Bride.” A lots more.

Ah but we don’t get to chose our own legacy…

  1. TL says

    “Wings of Desire” is my favorite movie of all-time. His character in it leaves you thinking about the part long after the film is over. RIP. If you have not seen it get it now. I will wait…

  2. Richard Brody says

    I love all the movies mentioned above, but particularly “The In-Laws”. When the world gets too dark, I pop that in.

  3. Andy M. says

    All I have to do to crack up my wife is look at her a certain way and yell, “Serpentine! Serpentine!”

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