Born in New York City, Peter Falk started acting in his teenage years where one of his first stage productions was in "The Pirates of Penzance." Although Falk graduated high school as president of his senior class, he didn't know what to do with his life then. He joined the United States Merchant Marines, after being rejected from the Army for his glass eye, where he served as a cook as well as a mess boy. After graduating from college Falk worked in Hartford, Conneticut for the State Budget Bureau. It was while working there, that Falk caught the acting bug again and started performing plays for a community theater group called "The Mark Twain Masquers." After quitting his job, Falk returned to New York to pursue his career.
After performing in a few Off-Broadway productions, Falk pursued Hollywood. Although there was a minor setback with a failed screen test for Columbia Pictures, Falk's breakout role, which was actually the second film he had ever done, brought him his first Academy Award nomination for "Murder Inc" (1960). The following year, he would earn a second acting nomination for "Pocketful of Miracles" (1961).
The remarkable thing about Peter Falk's career, which spanned over theater, film and television, is that he managed to make himself an actor that was recognizable throughout the generations of people he entertained.
In 1965, he was part of an all-star ensemble in the Blake Edwards directed comedy "The Great Race" with Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. His character, "Max Meen" is assistant to "Professor Fate" (played my Lemmon) who is the nemesis to "The Great Leslie" (played by Curtis). Together they hatch a series of wild schemes to sabotage "The Great Leslie" in ever finishing the race in Paris, France. Although it was made almost 50 years ago, "The Great Race" (1965) has become a classic that can be enjoyed amongst whole generations of film lovers.
However, Falk is most remembered as the off-beat "Lt. Columbo" in which he first portrayed the character in a 1968 television movie, "Prescription Murder." In 1971, the debut episode of "Columbo" was directed by none other than a young Steven Spielberg. Falk would play Columbo regularly throughout the 70s until the show became a series of television movies throughout the 1980s. It's last episode was 2003. By the time the series had ended its run, Falk won four Emmys for his longstanding role.
At the same time of filming the series, Falk's filmography grew including the hilarious comedy "The In-Laws" (1979). In the 1980s, a new generation knew him as "Grandpa" opposite a young Fred Savage in the comical interludes of the contemporary classic, "The Princess Bride" (1987).
After the last episode of "Columbo", Falk continued to work and introduced himself to a new audience when he voiced the character "Don Feinberg" in Dreamworks' "Shark Tale" (2004). In 2006, Falk published his memoir titled "Just One More Thing," after his iconic "Columbo" line that Falk would exit with at the end of every show. His last film was opposite Cloris Leachman, Rip Torn and Val Kilmer in "American Cowslip" in 2008.