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Peter Falk aka Detective Columbo
 
Peter Michael Falk  was born in New York City. He was the son of Michael Peter and Madeline Falk, the descendants of Jewish immigrants from the eastern Poland, at the time part of the Russian Empire. on his father's side, and Hungary and Czech Republic lands on his mother's side.
 
Falk's right eye was surgically removed when he was three, and so he wore an artificial eye for most of his life, which was the reason for his trademark "suspicious squint", that was both a curse and a blessing in his long career.
 
Falk's first stage appearance was at the age of 12 in a school camp theater production – that was the time his acting talent started to really show. But after school, his path turned wild...
 
First, he tried to enlist the Navy to fight in World War II, but was turned down because of his eye and had to join the Merchant Marine as a cook because, in his own words, "There they don't care if you're blind or not. The only one on a ship who has to see is the captain. And in the case of the Titanic, he couldn't see very well, either"...
 
...then he entered the University of Wisconsin, and later – to the New School for Social Research in NYC...
 
...then he went to Yugoslavia and worked on a railroad...
 
...then he returned to NYC and enrolled into the Syracuse University...
 
...then he applied for a job at CIA but was turned down because of his membership in the Merchant Marine trade union. And his eye...
 
...then he became a financial analyst with the Connecticut State Budget Bureau...
 
...then, in 1956, he made his Broadway debut. He would play in broadway productions on and off for nearly 20 years...
 
...then he was failed at a screen test at Columbia Pictures, with the studio boss Harry Cohn telling him "For the same price I can get an actor with two eyes!"
 
Finally, he got minor roles in several Hollywood movies. In 1960 came his breakthrough... He played a killer in Murder, Inc., and although the film was more of a flop, he was nominated for Oscar as the Best supporting actor! Next year he starred in Pocketful of Miracles, receiving another Oscar nomination.
 
Then came Columbo, directed by the young Steven Spielberg, and Falk became a national celebrity. The series ran on NBC from 1971 to 1978, and later, with renewed interest of the public (in large part due to the audience's love for Falk/Columbo), from 1989 until 2003. 
 
In addition to being a brilliant actor, Falk was an accomplished artist, and even had an exhibition of his artwork at the Butler Institute of American Art.
 
The final years of Falk's life were plagued by rumors of his dementia- he was photographed by paparazzi in the streets of Beverly Hills looking distraught and acting unnaturally. The 83-year-old Falk died at his Beverly Hills home. The cause of death were complications from a combination of pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease...
 
Sources:
"Peter Falk Biography (1927–) at". Filmreference.com
 "Peter Falk Biography". Biography.com

 


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