Date of Birth: September 16, 1927
This native of the Big Apple is best known for the beloved, bumbling Lieutenant Columbo featured in 30 years of television films. As a child of three, Falk lost his right eye to a tumor, and had it replaced by a glass prosthesis, giving him a slightly cross-eyed look. Before acting, Falk worked as an efficiency expert for the Budget Bureau of the State of Connecticut. He then decided to take up the art of acting and studied with Eva Le Galliene and Sanford Meisner.
He started his acting career on the New York stage, performing in such plays as Don Juan and The Iceman Cometh.
In 1960, Falk made took his first major role in the feature, Murder, Inc. The role not only put him in the limelight, it also garnered him his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He proved the nomination was no fluke when he was nominated once again for the golden statuette the following year for his supporting role in A Pocketful of Miracles.
For the next decade, Falk made a number of other memorable showings in such films as It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Robin and the Seven Hoods (1964) and the zany comedy The Great Race (1965).
In 1969, the television film, Prescription: Murder was released. Starring Falk as the rumpled but cagey police detective, Lieutenant Columbo, the character would soon become a signature role for him as he would star again and again in more than 65 hour and a half episodes. The films became so popular, they began to be shown worldwide, and earned Falk six Emmy award nominations (winning four), and nine Golden Globes nominations (winning one).
In the late '80s, Falk began producing all the Columbo films and even took a stab at both directing a couple of episodes and writing one (Columbo: It's All in the Game). Although he continued his work in the Columbo franchise, he did take time off during the '80s and '90s to work on feature films like The Princess Bride (1987), Tune in Tomorrow (1990), Faraway, So Close (1993), and Roommates (1995). He continues to work in the 2000s, both in TV movies (including a new Columbo in 2003) and feature films such as Shark Tale (2004). In 2000 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival; in 2003 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Method Fest; and 2004 he won a Special David award at the David di Donatello Awards.
Having suffered from Alzheimer's Disease since 2007, Falk died peacefully at his Beverly Hills home on June 23, 2011, leaving behind his wife of 34 years, Shera, as well as two daughters, Catherine and Jackie, from his first marriage.