A lovely tribute to Peter Falk and his much-loved tv detective, Columbo, appears at The Rap Sheet today.
I'm sure all mystery lovers are saying fond farewells to Falk these days, whether on blogs or merely in their hearts. I loved the character of Columbo and the way Falk gave life to him. Even in the 21st Century I was showing Columbo clips to my students to enhance our study of CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, since Columbo was loosely based on the investigator Porfiry Petrovich and his methods of detection.
Falk was not a one-dimensional actor, but all of his roles were invested with a sort of crusty charm. My husband loved him best as Vince Ricardo in The In-Laws; I have happy memories of him as Max, the assistant to Jack Lemmon's cartoonish Professor Fate in The Great Race; and of course we both loved him as the gruff grandfather reading a book to his sick grandson in The Princess Bride.
It is sad and sweet that we don't want our television and movie heroes to ever grow old and die, as though they are beloved members of our own families. Falk died of Alzheimer's--the same disease that claimed my mother-in-law--and therefore I can guess at his slow decline, his gradual separation from life, his growing emaciation. I'm sure for all that were near him, it was clear that it was his time to die.
How lucky we are that his memory is preserved in many wonderful movies and youtube clips that we can watch forever. I wish that I could say the same about some of my family members.
(photo link here)