American actor Peter Michael Falk best known for his role as Lieutenant Columbo in the television series Columbo.Born in New York City, Falk was the son of Michael Peter Falk from Jewish family, owner of a clothing and dry goods store, and his wife, Madeline was an accountant and buyer.Falk married Alyce Mayo, whom he had met when they were both students at Syracuse University,on April 17, 1960. They adopted two daughters, Catherine and Jackie. They divorced in 1976. On December 7, 1977, Falk married actress Shera Danese,who guest-starred on the Columbo series on numerous occasions. He appeared in numerous films and television guest roles and was nominated for an Academy Award twice, and won the Emmy Award on five occasions and the Golden Globe award once.Falk's right eye was surgically removed when he was three because of a retinoblastoma, he wore a glass eye for most of his life.Despite this, Falk participated in team sports, mainly baseball and basketball.
Falk obtained a Master of Public Administration degree at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University in 1953. The program was designed to train civil servants for the federal government, a career that Falk said in his memoir that he had "no interest in and no aptitude for.He applied for a job with the CIA, but was rejected because of his membership in the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union while serving in the Merchant Marine, even though he was required to join and was not active in the union.He then became a management analyst with the Connecticut State Budget Bureau in Hartford.Falk characterized his Hartford job as "efficiency expert". "I was such an efficiency expert that the first morning on the job, I couldn't find the building where I was to report for work", he said in 1997. "Naturally, I was late, which I always was in those days, but ironically it was my tendency never to be on time that got me started as a professional actor.
While working in Hartford, Falk joined a community theater group called the Mark Twain Masquers, where he performed in plays that included The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, The Crucible, and The Country Girl by Clifford Odets. Falk also studied with Eva Le Gallienne, who was giving an acting class at the White Barn Theatre in Westport, Connecticut. Falk later recalled that he had "lied his way" into the class, which was for professional actors. He drove down to Westport from Hartford every Wednesday, when the classes were held, and was usually late.His first New York stage role was in an Off-Broadway production of Moliere's Dom Juan at the Fourth Street Theatre that closed after its only performance on January 3, 1956. Falk played the second lead, Sganarelle.His next theater role proved far better for his career. In May he appeared at Circle in the Square in a revival of The Iceman Cometh with Jason Robards, playing the bartender.
A theatrical agent advised Falk not to expect much film acting work because of his glass eye.He failed a screen test at Columbia Pictures and was told by studio boss Harry Cohn that "for the same price I can get an actor with two eyes." He also failed to get a role in the film Marjorie Morningstar despite a promising interview for the second lead.His first film performances were in small roles in Wind Across the Everglades (1958), The Bloody Brood (1959) and Pretty Boy Floyd (1960).Falk's performance in Murder, Inc. (1960) was a turning point in his career. He was cast in the supporting role of killer Abe Reles, in a film based on the real life murder gang of that name, that had terrorized New York in the 1930s.The New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther, while dismissing the movie as "an average gangster film", singled out Falk's "amusingly vicious performance.