He’s gone. Peter Falk, aka “Columbo”, one of the most cherished (at least for me) TV icons whose famous line was, “just one more thing,” as he caught the murderer red-handed just as they thought they were off the hook. His memoir Just One More Thing was published in 2006.
I grew up with him. I didn’t understand why one eye stared straight ahead until I found out it was made of glass. The rumpled raincoat reminded me of my dad’s and made him all the more human, and always funny. And that cigar reminded me of my Grandpa Pehr who always smoked with his morning cup of coffee and Stella Dora cookie.
Besides the hit series, I will always remember his part in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire. Made in 1987, its German title was Der Himmel Über Berlin. The setting is contemporary West Berlin, before the wall came down. The city is protected by trench-coated angels, invisible to all but children, who eavesdrop on the thoughts of mortals and try to bring them solace. Sometimes they place a hand on a person’s shoulder but we aren’t certain if the person actually feels their touch. The angel Cassiel (Otto Sander) follows an old man searching for Postdamer Platz in an open field, and instead finds a graffiti-covered Berlin Wall. The second angel, Damiel (Bruno Ganz), falls in love with a trapeze artist and wants to become mortal. They both grow weary of always observing and never experiencing.
Peter Falk, as himself, assists Damiel by telling him of the joys of human experience. He is in Berlin making a film about Berlin’s Nazi past. Falk played the part with that tired, well-worn humanity, an individual who has obviously experienced both the highs and lows life has to offer but can see the good in it and in others. He had a special something. Sorry if this is sounding saccharin, but I was such a fan. For those of you who haven’t seen the film I will not spoil the ending, but suffice it to say, it is a gem. I refused to see the American remake with Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan.
I suppose that’s all I have to say. RIP Peter Falk. I will miss you.