June 24, 2011, - 8:15 pm

Peter Falk: Proud American, Proud Pro-Israel Jew, of Blessed Memory

By Debbie Schlussel

Can’t let the day go by without marking the passing of one of my favorite actors, Peter Falk.

Most remember him for his role as Lt. Columbo, the clever detective in the eponymous TV series and movies.  But I especially loved Falk as a wacky CIA agent in “The In-Laws” with Alan Arkin, a terrific movie, which I recommend if you haven’t seen it and which my late father took me to see because he loved it so much.  I was only around ten years old, but I laughed and laughed and laughed along with my dad.  I also loved Falk as Columbo, especially for his famous “Just one more thing” line.  I’m a “Just one more thing” kind of girl and often find myself using that phrase (and I often used it to describe other people).  (Plus, I love a rumpled trenchcoat.)  Falk played all of these roles with only one eye, which I never knew until today.

Peter Falk, Columbo’s Alter Ego, Blessed Be His Memory

You may not know this but Peter Falk was a proud, pro-Israel Jew, in addition to being a proud American.  He served in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II, after being rejected from the U.S. Armed Forces because of his glass eye.  But  he also volunteered to fight for Israel against Egypt in the 1948 War of Independence.  He was a proud, pro-Israel Jew.  From the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles:

Falk was born to an Eastern European Jewish family in New York in 1927. He wore a glass eye most of his life after losing his right eye to a tumor at the age of 3.

At the close of World War II, Falk tried to sign up for the armed services but was rejected because of his eye. Following service with the U.S. Merchant Marines, he signed up to go to Israel to fight Egypt. “I just wanted more excitement …. However, the war, to everyone’s amazement, was over in the blink of an eye,” he wrote in his 2006 autobiography, “Just One More Thing.”

I would say, “Just One More Thing,” but his career and service speak for themselves. “Just One More Thing . . .” should be on his tombstone, along with Peter Falk, Proud American, Proud Jew, Zichrono LiVrachah [Blessed Be His Memory].

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46 Responses

May G-d Bless and Keep Peter Falk. May G-d Wrap Peter in Eternal Light. AMEIN.

natashaINFIDEL on June 24, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    May G-d Bless and Keep Peter Falk. May G-d Wrap Peter in Eternal Light. AMEIN.

    natashaINFIDEL on June 24, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    AMEN!!!

    There was one Columbo episdode that I think may have been inspired by the 1933 murder of prominent Labor Zionist Haim Arlosoroff, of blessed memory, in Tel Aviv. It was a murder disguised as a mugging on a beach.

    Miranda Rose Smith on June 26, 2011 at 4:33 am

There was a Colombo episode with Donald Pleasance that, to-this-day still grabs me. Every aspect of the story/script/acting/direction is virtually timeless & perfect. We was a truly gifted performer.

#1 Vato on June 24, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    I too am a Falkophile and naturally have seen most of the Columbo episodes over the many years. The episode you speak of, with Donald Pleasence playing the role of the murdering wine producer, is called “Any Old Port in a Storm.” This episode is one of the best in the series, and happens to have been one of Falk’s personal favorites; I think because writer Larry Cohen created him as a sympathetic character, rather than the more typical wealthy, arrogant murderer that faced-off with Columbo.

    Ralph Adamo on June 25, 2011 at 6:35 pm

      I too am a Falkophile and naturally have seen most of the Columbo episodes over the many years. The episode you speak of, with Donald Pleasence playing the role of the murdering wine producer, is called “Any Old Port in a Storm.” This episode is one of the best in the series, and happens to have been one of Falk’s personal favorites; I think because writer Larry Cohen created him as a sympathetic character, rather than the more typical wealthy, arrogant murderer that faced-off with Columbo.

      Ralph Adamo on June 25, 2011 at 6:35 pm

      The episode with Ruth Gordon as the murderess, an Agatha Christie type mystery story writer, also had a somewhat sympathetic murderess. Columbo liked and felt sorry for Abigail Mitchell, and as he was arresting her, she said she wished he had been the officer in charge of investigating the murder of her niece.

      Miranda Rose Smith on June 26, 2011 at 7:01 am

He also was a regular on many of the Dean Martin Roasts.
His speech during the Frank Sinatra Roast is unbelievable.
And I think he was doing much of it ad-live.
Check them out on you tube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKunEn9VUrw

Steve on June 24, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    That is a wonderful clip of Peter Falk. He plays Columbo as comedian and he never breaks character. And the line-up in that Dean Martin Roast Special is phenomenal! In addition to Peter Falk, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin, I see Ronald Reagan, George Burns, Orson Welles, Jimmy Stewart, Don Rickles, Dom Deluisse, Jack Klugman, Nipsey Russell, and Gene Kelly. They certainly don’t make shows like that anymore.

    Ralph Adamo on June 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      Not objecting to this piece, just want it clear that this is not me, the R.A. who lives in New Orleans.

      Ralph Adamo NewOrleans on July 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    He also was a regular on many of the Dean Martin Roasts.
    His speech during the Frank Sinatra Roast is unbelievable.
    And I think he was doing much of it ad-live.
    Check them out on you tube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKunEn9VUrw

    Steve on June 24, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Reply

    Not funny AT ALL.

    Miranda Rose Smith on June 26, 2011 at 5:50 am

I liked him in Anzio. Bye Bye Blackbird

Rick on June 24, 2011 at 10:21 pm

A mensch. A great guy, wonderful actor and one of those people who leaves an indelible impression.

Peter Falk will be sadly missed. May his memory be for a blessing!

NormanF on June 24, 2011 at 10:27 pm

I don’t know much about Peter Falk, I to heard that he started in some films, I believe in the 1980s (when I was a little grade school child in the 1980s) and also in the 1970s as well?

Anyway, may he rest in peace and good luck to his family, friends and relatives.

“A nation is defined by it’s borders, language & culture!”

Sean R. on June 24, 2011 at 10:34 pm

I was surprised to see Falk in a small role a few years ago in Nicholas Cage’s NEXT.

Many of my generation will remember him from THE PRINCESS BRIDE than anything else.

Farewell Falk on June 24, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Make it worth your while to watch “Wings Of Desire”. Wim Wenders film was shot before the fall of the Berlin Wall and its based on a famous conceit of Rainer Maria Rilke, the greatest German lyric poet of the last century about how the angels are so remote from us that they overwhelm us with their lack of empathy for our mortal condition. Personally, I think we’re closer to G-d than the angels will ever be. Peter Falk had a role in that movie.

    NormanF on June 24, 2011 at 10:55 pm

OT – Paris designer John Galliano blamed his anti-Jewish tirade on drugs and booze. Good thing he didn’t excuse that with the shopworn “but I have Jewish friends,” excuse.

That’s the difference between the stupid people and the smart people in this world. The latter don’t allow their personal failings to compromise their reputation.

We don’t see that with Falk. And he’s the last of a dwindling Golden Age Of Hollywood legends who brought us a great deal of pleasure. We won’t look upon his likes again.

NormanF on June 24, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Only Peter Falk could play Columbo.

My Dad (of Most Blessed Memory) enjoyed watching Columbo.

Columbo was the man.

See you on the Other Side, Peter Falk. Say “hi” to my Dad when you get There.

The Reverend Jacques on June 24, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    See you on the Other Side, Peter Falk. Say “hi” to my Dad when you get There.

    The Reverend Jacques on June 24, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Reply

    Say “Hi” to my Dad, of blessed memory, too.

    Miranda Rose Smith on June 26, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Although it’s true that Peter Falk has performed the role of Columbo to such perfection that it is almost impossible to think of anyone else playing that role, Falk himself once said that he thought that Art Carney would have made a great Columbo.(Art Carney is best known for playing Ed Norton, opposite Jackie Gleason’s Ralph Kramden in the legendary TV comedy series “The Honeymooners.”)

    You might be interested to know that the Columbo character originally appeared in a stage play (which was later re-written as “Prescription Murder,” the pilot for Columbo). The great actor Joseph Cotton played the murderer and veteran character actor Thomas Mitchell played Columbo. According to William Link, who co-created Columbo, along with his late partner Richard Levison, Link was struck by the fact that the audiences gave standing ovations to Thomas Mitchell, but were not quite as enthusiastic about Joseph Cotton–even though he was the star of the show and his performance was great. Link attributed the audience response to the specialness of Columbo’s character. Although the Columbo character was a brilliant detective, he was also an “everyman,” a commoner, and the underdog in a battle of wits with the wealthier, more cultured, and better educated murderer. It was then that Link recognized that much bigger things could be in store for “Columbo.”

    Believe it or not, Link originally wanted to cast the great singer Bing Crosby to play Columbo, but Crosby wrote Link and Levison a nice letter back, saying that he didn’t want to commit to performing regularly. It was Peter Falk who actively sought the role. Although both Link and Levinson thought that Falk might be too young for the part at the time, they recognized that Falk had the everyman qualities that they sought for the character.

    Ralph Adamo on June 26, 2011 at 8:44 pm

“Just one more thing” – he’ll live on in his wonderful show and never stop reminding us greatness is concealed in a rumpled trenchcoat and a half-chomped up cigar! ;-)

NormanF on June 24, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Amen

    James A. Yost on June 26, 2011 at 3:22 am

He was a good man who developed a quiet fame that was deserved and not thrust into our faces. Peter Falk is someone who cannot be replaced, even if Hollywood endeavors to reprise Columbo or some other character he brought to life. Such an effort would be akin to Steve Martin trying to revive Phil Silvers’ Sergeant Bilko, which was an ignominious disaster. Rod Serling even used him as in one of his Twilight Episodes, “The Mirror”.

worry01 on June 25, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Rod Serling even used him as in one of his Twilight Episodes, “The Mirror”.

    worry01 on June 25, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Reply

    That’s right. The character he was playing was supposed to be Fidel Castro, may he rot in hell.

    Miranda Rose Smith on June 26, 2011 at 9:43 am

Played Max, sidekick of Professor Fate played by Jack Lemmon, in Blake Edwards’ “The Great Race”.

CornCoLeo on June 25, 2011 at 2:07 am

I loved Columbo, but I’ll never forget him in the movie Murder by Death.

RIP Peter Falk

Jeff_W on June 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I was an avid fan of Colombo even as a boy in the seventies, I always liked his car a sixties Puegeot convertible in various forms of disrepair what an icon who will be sorely missed.

May God bless and keep you Mr. Falk, you will be sorely missed.

Koeteus on June 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    The Peugeot depicted in the show was a rare model. A few hundred of them were actually made.

    It was an embodiment and projection of the character’s personality and as we know, our cars are an extension of ourselves.

    NormanF on June 25, 2011 at 11:10 pm

FYI, I think that the merchant marine had the highest per capita death rate of any of the other services.

Falk was one of the better actors. He also knew how to keep his mouth shut about controversial political issue, something the young generation should consider.

david7134 on June 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm

I sent him a piece of pie at Dupar’s diner in Studio City. Really nice guy.

DS_ROCKS! on June 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Yeah, Pete was a good guy, and Dupar’s had good pie. My hangout in that area when I lived there was Jerry’s Deli, though. Great Matzoh Ball soup.

    Falk played baseball as a little leaguer. Once, when arguing with the ump on a call, he took out his glass eye and shoved it toward the umpire, saying, “Here, use this, it may help.” Everyone cracked up.

    Occam's Tool on June 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Re:

Debbie– “Peter Falk, Proud American, Proud Jew, Zichrono LiVrachah [Blessed Be His Memory].”

Amen!

JeffE on June 25, 2011 at 10:28 pm

i loved Peter Falk. rest in peace—Colombo!!!!! the world is a bit sadder

celinda santos on June 26, 2011 at 12:11 am

Peter Falk’s pro-Israel stance was over 60 years ago. In 1998 he gave the International Solidarity Movement $25,000.00 and vowed to never give a nickel to Israel again. His wife Shere Danese was Italian and took up the Palestinian cause sometime in the early 90′s as well. Contact the ISM – they’ve been bragging about it for two days.

L: If this is true, I will certainly note it. Can you please provide us with a link or some other sort of evidence? It doesn’t seem like him, and I’ve found no documentation of this. Thanks. DS

Laura on June 26, 2011 at 1:56 am

    You say: <>

    Where’s the support for this statement? The only verifiable fact in your statement is that Shera Danese is of Italian heritage–Abruzzo, specifically. I researched the Internet and found nothing connecting Peter Falk or Shera Danese with “International Solidarity Movement,” or anything even remotely connected to anti-Israel or anti-zionist views.
    And a search of the website for “International Solidarity Movement” also showed nothing even mentioning Peter Falk or Shera Danese, let alone “bragging” about their alleged support for that organization. The only thing remotely connected to show business on their website was some rant againt Bono and U2 for performing in Israel.

    So if you have any evidence at all, please post it. Otherwise, we shall reasonably assume that you’re just making junk up.

    Ralph Adamo on June 26, 2011 at 4:13 am

    Debbie,
    Don’t hold your breath waiting for “Laura” to produce a scintilla of evidence that the late Peter Falk and/or his wife Shera Danese Falk contributed to the “International Solidarity Movement” or were in any way supporters of anti-Israel or anti-Zionist activities. I’ve done a thorough search and there is no evidence.

    The closest I’ve come to a connection between “Falk” and anti-Israel activities is “Richard Falk,” a professor at Princeton University. But the “connection” with “Peter Falk” ends there, with the same last name. Yes, Richard Falk, is a Jew, and is anti-Israel and anti-Zionist and—let’s not pull any punches here—an anti-Semite too. This particular “Falk” is an extreme leftist, and he has all the perversions of the Jewish leftists. He/she so wants to be liked that he/she sympathizes and empathizes with his/her enemies. Richard Falk fits that perverse pattern to a “T”—much like other Jewish leftists Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, and other such self-hating Jews. Here’s a link to the “International Solidarity Movement” website with an article involving Richard Falk: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/07/7499/.

    Meanwhile (not one to let “Laura’s” allegation go unchecked), I’ve also put in an enquiry with “International Solidarity Movement” to confirm or deny “Laura’s” allegations. But I’m not holding my breath for a response back from them either. A lie’s a lie, and it goes without saying that other liars aren’t going to correct another lie from a different liar.
    Ralph

    RA: I don’t believe it, either. If it were true, it would be on their site, and I did searches on both his and his wife’s names and got nada. I find it hard to believe that a guy would volunteer to fight for Israel in the War of Independence, then pull something like that, especially with such a terrorist group as ISM. DS

    Ralph Adamo on June 26, 2011 at 8:21 pm

      People can change their political views but I find that highly unlikely with Peter Falk. I think Laura made it up and had she proof, she would have posted relevant links.

      I’m not inclined to speak ill of the dead and extraordinary claims should always require extraordinary evidence. There is none here for what are unsubstantiated assertions.

      NormanF on June 26, 2011 at 11:11 pm

God Speed

James A. Yost on June 26, 2011 at 3:20 am

There was a Colombo episode with Donald Pleasance that, to-this-day still grabs me. Every aspect of the story/script/acting/direction is virtually timeless & perfect. We was a truly gifted performer.

#1 Vato on June 24, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Reply

Was that “Any Old Port in a Storm?” The one about the winery?

Miranda Rose Smith on June 26, 2011 at 4:28 am

    Yes, that’s the episode, and was one of Peter Falk’s personal favorites.

    Ralph Adamo on June 26, 2011 at 8:26 pm

When Columbo began it was part of NBC’s Mystery Movie series in 1971 and was a rare hit for NBC which in the decade let’s face it was an awful network in terms of primetime. Alongside Columbo were…

McMillan and Wife (Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James)
Banacek (George Peppard)
McCloud (Dennis Weaver)
and even Quincy, M.E. (Jack Klugman which gets airplay on Retro Television Network).

But there were shows nobody has heard of as part of this “wheel” or “umbrella” series. You can read more here…

http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=nbcmysterym

Oh, and “just one more thing” (HAD TO SAY IT!), the theme for the NBC Mystery Movie was composed by Henry Mancini.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbCg5ZFxgDM

Bob Porrazzo on June 26, 2011 at 6:37 am

    There was also “Heck Ramsey” on the NBC Mysteries.

    DS_ROCKS! on June 26, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    McMillan and Wife (Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James)
    Banacek (George Peppard)
    McCloud (Dennis Weaver)
    and even Quincy, M.E. (Jack Klugman which gets airplay on Retro Television Network

    I was about to post “Hec Ramsey” with Richard Boone, when I saw DS_Rocks beat me to it.

    Miranda Rose Smith on June 27, 2011 at 5:15 am

I LOVED Peter Faulk! He had some great lines in “The In-Laws” that my wife and I sometimes still quote to each other, like:

We can get an orange juice, a grande, you know? a BIG one!

Serpentine Sheldon! Serpentine!

Woops, pigs!

Wasn’t he also in Mad Mad Mad Mad World?

I knew he had a glass eye, although I can’t remember where I heard it.

Anyway, may he find peaceful rest in the bosom of the Almighty.

Sean M. on June 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm

The entire Columbo series including the NBC Mystery Movies that included Columbo are a part of my small DVD collection. It was the only “must have” part of my collection.

I got hooked on the show as a kid when I saw the last half of an episode where a man supposedly choked to death lifting weights on a bench press. And this very sharp and rumpled detective figured out it was murder by the way the victims shoes were tied. I was HOOKED!

I loved Peter Falk! May he rest in peace.

PDMac60 on June 27, 2011 at 11:37 am

I’m a big fan of Peter Falk and Columbo. But I don’t quite understand why his religion is relevant or the fact that he is pro-Israel. Here in America we don’t judge people by their religion or their politics, do we?

Michael Collins Piper on September 23, 2011 at 8:18 am

They use to call my father Columbo ad nuckbame were he werked as I got older I learned more bout him as an artist painter,actor…..etc and found a fond spirit, 2 Peter M. Falk cheers……

Jon on September 30, 2013 at 2:48 am

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