Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times
August 15, 2013
William Link on "Columbo"
By Susan King
Columbo is a working-class hero. "It was always him against a very wealthy man or individual," says William Link, who, with his late writing and producing partner Richard Levinson first introduced Columbo in a minor role in a 1960 episode called "Enough Rope" of the long-forgotten NBC anthology series "The Chevy Mystery Show."
And the setup was unique. Audiences knew from the start whom the murderer was — in fact, the opening act would follow the murderer as he or she planned the crime and executed it. So the fun was to watch the battle of wits between Columbo and the culprit, because the murderer would never guess that the quirky Columbo would be smart enough to solve the case. Whenever one heard him say, "Just one more thing," audiences knew he had gotten his man.
Sealing the deal, though, was Peter Falk's brilliant, multi-Emmy-winning performance as the LAPD detective. He transformed the character into a household name first in two TV movies: 1967's "Prescription: Murder" and 1971's "Ransom for a Dead Man," then in an NBC series, which ran from 1971to '77. It was resurrected in 1989 on ABC, where it continued through 1993. Falk is 82 and continued working until a few years ago.
Ironically, Levinson and Link originally wanted Bing Crosby for the role. Continue reading this story
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Photo: William Link, with his late partner Richard Levinson, created "Columbo," "Murder, She Wrote" and "Mannix."