‘Columbo’ star Peter Falk passes away aged 83

Actor died "peacefully at home", according to family statement

Actor Peter Falk, best known for his starring role as the title character in the TV detective series Columbo, has died aged 83.

According to a statement released by his family, he passed away yesterday evening (June 23). “Falk died peacefully at his Beverly Hills home in the evening of June 23, 2011,” it said.

Falk enjoyed a television and film career that lasted for nearly 50 years, making his screen debut in Julian Ruffman‘s film ‘The Bloody Brood’ in 1959. He continued to work for the next five decades, with his roles including a turn in the 2007 thriller ‘Next’ with Nicolas Cage.

Although Falk twice received Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor for his performances in 1960’s Murder Inc and 1961’s Pocketful Of Miracles, it was his role in television series Columbo for which he became most famous.

He took on the role for the 1968 TV movie special Prescription Murder, and then went on to play the detective for seven seasons between 1971 and 1978, before reviving the character for less frequent made-for-TV films from 1989 to 2003. He won four Emmy Awards and one Golden Globe for his portrayal of the character.

In 2009, however, it was revealed that the actor had been suffering from advanced dementia and Alzheimer’s disease that was triggered by a series of dental operations.

His condition left him unable to look after himself, and led to a legal dispute between his wife Sara and his daughter Catherine after she complained she was being prevented from visiting her father, although she later abandoned her attempt to to obtain control of his estate. During the court case, it was revealed that he could no longer remember portraying his most famous character.