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July 29, 2014

Peter Falk was the third Columbo

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 24th 2007 7:02PM

Peter FalkMany people know the classic trivia fact that Bing Crosby was approached to star as Lt. Columbo but said no because it would interfere with his golf. And many know that Columbo actually started on stage as a play. Prescription: Murder, the first Columbo movie, was first a stage play, with Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billy in It's A Wonderful Life) as the detective and Joseph Cotten as the murderer. But did you know that there was another version, several years earlier, in 1960? And on television.

The first version was an episode of the anthology series The Chevy Mystery Show. William Link and Richard Levinson wrote an episode entitled "Enough Rope," which is basically Prescription: Murder with a few differences. Columbo was played by Bert Freed (that's him as Columbo on the right).

The episode still exists on kinescope. It might make for a fine extra on one of the Columbo DVD sets. Though I think I can say even without seeing these two other versions that no one could top Falk.

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jake

Why don't they make a new Columbo? They are so great.

January 25 2007 at 8:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Toby OB

I've seen "Enough Rope" - it's available for viewing at the Museum of Television & Radio in NYC and L.A.

One interesting aspect of this live production is that Bert Freed makes a mistake, and then another character compounds it:

He shows up at Dr. Flemming's office for the first time and announces himself as "Dr. Columbo". The receptionist says into her intercom: "Lt. Columbo to see you". She never met him before; how did she know he was really a police lieutenant.

At least Freed's gaffe could be written off as an attempt to make first contact with his suspect undercover....

January 25 2007 at 12:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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