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Actor Peter Falk died Thursday in Beverly Hills at the age of 83. A veteran of stage, film and television, Falk had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease since 2008.
Following are the most memorable roles from the versatile actor, who was a CPA by trade and didn’t start acting until graduate school.
Falk played Los Angeles police Lieutenant Columbo first in the 1968 TV movie Prescription Murder, then in the TV series that ran every third Sunday from 1971 to 1977. The detective wore his trademark crumpled raincoat throughout the show, and would outsmart the bad guys with persistence and sly skills.
The Princess Bride
The actor played Fred Savage’s grandfather in Rob Reiner’s 1987 film. While reading a fairy tale at his sick grandson’s beside, Falk’s character engages the boy in a story filled with romance, witches, Spanish sword-fighters and giants.
Woman Under the Influence
Falk played Nick Longhetti, the husband of an unstable woman in the stark 1974 film from director John Cassavetes. Upon admitting his wife into psychiatric treatment after a series of her outlandish behavior, he struggles to keep the family together. Falk’s portrayal of the highly complex, intense character — who puts up with his wife but isn’t afraid of hitting her — earned him critical acclaim.
Wings of Desire and Faraway, So Close
The actor played himself in Wim Wenders‘ Wings of Desire (1987) and its 1993 sequel, Faraway, So Close! The fantasy films present Falk as a former angel who chooses to immortalize himself in order to experience life as a human. The actor’s appreciation for life was heavily highlighted in both films, which also starred Bruno Ganz.
The Thing About My Folks
Falk plays the workaholic husband to his terminally ill wife, Muriel, in this 2005 film written by and co-starring Paul Reiser. As Muriel’s life winds down, Falk’s character realizes the importance of family and hits the road with his estranged son. Though the film didn’t set the box office on fire, Falk’s performance stands out as one of the more enjoyable aspects of the project.
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