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Details You Missed in ‘Columbo’

Any decent detective worth their salt has a keen eye for spotting overlooked details. Columbo is the story of one of the greatest detectives in TV history. This explains why Columbo is packed to the brim with hidden treasures and easter eggs that you likely completely missed. Of course, Lt. Columbo would have uncovered these hidden pieces of trivia if he was watching. That man never missed a thing.

Columbo tirelessly worked on unraveling mysteries for over 30 years. Peter Falk would first be seen in his iconic trench coat cracking cases and solving murders in 1971. He keeps up the good work all the way into the 21st century. His last appearance on TV in his celebrated role in 2003.

Columbo welcomed dozens of surprise guest stars. In which would make their appearances long before they hit it big. We also got a glimpse at numerous recycled props in fascinating ways. You probably didn’t notice before – but fortunately, we did the detective work for you. You’re welcome.

Let’s take a look at some of the famous facts that Columbo kept under wraps for all of these decades. If you’re a fan of the show that coined the expression “Just one more thing”, then you’re not gonna want to miss this facts-filled video.

Facts Verse Presents: Details You Missed in Columbo

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Jeff Goldblum Makes An Unexpected and Unaccredited Appearance

In the episode ‘A Case Of Immunity’, Columbo is tasked with solving a crime at an embassy. It is a completely fictionalized Middle Eastern country called Sauria.

Outside of the embassy, a bunch of young protesters are marching with picket signs. In the crowd is a rather lofty gentleman in a gray windbreaker with impressive sideburns and glasses.

Can you guess who that might be?

You betcha! That’s none other than Jeff Goldblum in his first appearance on network television. He isn’t credited for his appearance but it’s still exciting to see him on the screen. Even if he’s only visible for a few brief moments You can catch him when his face flashes. In front of the screen for a second while he’s standing in front of a cop. Also, in the background later on when the protesters are picketing.

Jamie Lee Curtis Made A Guest Appearance As Well

In the next season, in an episode called ‘Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case’. Columbo gets chatty with a man at a restaurant whilst trying to uncover some clues. His beautiful waitress, who serves him a doughnut of all things – was none other than Jamie Lee Curtis. Unlike Goldblum, however, who made his television debut on Columbo, Curtis counted that small part as her third appearance on the TV screen.

Columbo’s First Name Was Actually Revealed

Throughout the entire series, Lt. Columbo’s first name is never said out loud. You might think that it is virtually impossible to determine his first name then, but if you dig a little deeper and whip out your magnifying glass, you might actually discover the truth of this mystery.

In an early episode called “Dead Weight”, Columbo makes a house call and flashes his badge. If you freeze-frame that shot you can clearly make out the signature on his badge.

Turns out our sleuth hero’s full name is Frank Columbo. We think it has a nice ring to it.

That wasn’t the only time that the name Frank can clearly be seen on identification either. In the episode “Death Hits The Jackpot” in 1991, the name Frank is also seen on his badge’s signature with the addition of the printed full name of LT. Frank Columbo.

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Captain Kirk Made An Appearance

In typical Shatner fashion, William stole the scene when he played the devilishly maniacal killer in the episode ‘Fade in to Murder’. In the tale, he plays an actor with some seriously dark secrets hidden under his floorboards. A particularly easter eggy screen freeze you can even see his headshot as Captain Kirk in a picture frame in the character’s house behind his couch.

Wait, does this mean that Columbo is set in the same TV universe as Star Trek? It’s going to take more than a detective to unravel that mystery.

Another Familiar Prop Can Be Seen In That Same Episode

Fans of the ABC sitcom McHale’s Navy starring Ernest Borgnine were treated to another little bonus when Shatner is strolling through the backlot of a Hollywood movie story.

The hull of a PT boat that was used in the show can clearly be seen parked on the street. If you blink, you might miss this little detail.

The House From The First Episode Makes Two Appearances

In the pilot episode ‘Murder by the Book’ Columbo makes another house call to question a mystery novel writer named Ken Franklin. The Novelist’s abode is a beautiful modern white-brick house by the sea.

Later on, that same house shows up again in the episode ‘The Most Crucial Game’ as the place of residence for a well-to-do sports figure.

Ken Franklin’s Book’s Can Be Seen In Later Episodes

In the episode “Dead Weight”, the same story that revealed Columbo’s first name on his badge, you can see copies of the mystery books written by Ken Franklin in the first episode. If you got a good eye, you can find these volumes inside of General Hollister aka Eddie Albert’s house.

The books all hinged around the detective work of Mrs. Melville, who like Columbo, is an expert case cracker. Unfortunately, the books, written by Ken Franklin and his writing partner, drew upon Franklin’s personal first-hand knowledge of how to commit a violent crime.

Steven Spielberg Played A Part In Production

We talked about the first episode “Murder by the Book” quite a bit already, but we failed to mention one major detail about that episode. It was directed by a young Steven Spielberg and was one of his earliest pieces of well-known work.

To pay him tribute, the writers would throw him a little nod in the episode “Mind over Mayhem” by naming the boy genius character rather affectionately – or perhaps facetiously – Steve Spielberg.

Peter Falk Also Directed An Episode

It was a once-in-a-career occurrence for him to take the directorial reigns and step behind the camera when he directed the episode ‘Blueprint for Murder’.

Directing must not have been his cup of tea however because he never directed a single episode or film after that. Of course, why would he need to? He’s amazing at what he does as an actor, and nobody can deny that.

Coach From Cheers Also Directed Episodes

So, we take it that directing an episode of Columbo became kind of the thing to do back then, because everyone wanted to take a stab at it, including Nicholas Colasanto, best known for playing “Coach” on the classic series Cheers.

In fact, he got the opportunity to call the shots on two episodes. The first being ‘Etude in Black’ and the second being “Swan Song”.

Long before he played Corneilus and Caesar in the Planet of the Apes films, Roddy was making appearances on shows like Columbo and the anthology program Night Gallery.

In the episode ‘Short Fuse”, he can be seen wearing a bright blue paisley blouse that he had previously worn in the pilot episode of Night Gallery. Seems like the studio needed to expand it’s wardrobe department a bit back in those days, don’t you think?

Edith Head – Legendary Hollywood Costume Designer Made A Cameo

Younger viewers might find something strikingly similar between Edna Mode from Pixar’s The Incredibles and the next celebrity to make a guest appearance on Columbo.

In the episode ‘Requiem for a Falling Star’, Columbus pays a visit to the office of Edith Head. She was definitely a legend in show business as being one of the most talented costume designers to ever set up shop in Tinseltown.

Throughout her career, she would earn eight Academy Awards for her masterful artistry. 7 of them can be seen on her desk in this episode. She makes an appearance as well with her very distinctive bowl haircut and black thick-framed glasses.

And that set? That was Edith’s real office!

The NBA’s Pat Riley Made A Cameo As Well

There’s a scene in ‘The Most Crucial Game’ where Columbo runs Paul Hanlon, played by Robert Culp, through the gauntlet of questions while in a basketball court.

In the background, there’s a bunch of sweaty guys actively engaged in a game. Who might that team be you might ask?

That’s none other than the Los Angeles Lakers.

The guy in the white Tee with the bodacious mustache is Pat Riley who would continue on in his career to become the head coach of the Showtime-era Lakers, followed by the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat. He is absolutely a living legend.

If you’re curious about the other guys in the court, those would be LeRoy Ellis, Happy Hairston, Keith Erickson, and Jim McMillan. The Lakers would even win the NBA championship that year as well.

Well, unfortunately, we’ve come to the end of another facts-filled feature. Seriously, we could sit here and talk about Colombo all day, but now it’s time to hear from you.

Who do you think is the superior television detective between Jim Rockford played by James Garner in the Rockford Files and Peter Falk as Columbo? Let us know what you think in the comments section and tell us why you think your favorite sleuth is a better case cracker than the other.

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