Do You Know Columbo’s Family?

We are all familiar with Lt. Columbo’s rumpled overcoat and  the 1959 Peuget convertible  he drove instead of a LAPD police car.  Do you remember when Mrs. Columbo gave him a new raincoat for his birthday in “Now You See Him”  He said he could not think with the new coat and was actually trying to lose it  Finally he did, and was able to go back to wearing his old coat.

Are we familiar with some of his family members?

Often Columbo mentions Mrs. Columbo.  I don’t think we ever really saw her.  In the episode “Rest In Peace, Mrs Columbo” we saw photos said to be of his wife.  However, at the end of the show it was revealed to the killer that the photos were of someone else and not of Mrs. Columbo at all.   In a couple of other shows it was revealed that Mrs. Columbo’s favorite music was Madame Butterfly and that she also loved Chopin.  Family celebrations were said to be very important to Mrs. Columbo who cared  deeply about her family.  She also was quite busy with her Church, volunteered at the hospital, helped her sister with her children and walked the family dog.

Columbo himself was born and raised near Chinatown.  It is said he grew up eating as much Chinese food as Italian.  The Columbo household consisted of his grandfather, parents, 5 brothers and a sister. Columbo was one of the middle children.   Both Columbo’s father and mother were Italian.  Columbo’s father never made more than $5,00 per year.  He wore glasses, loved Reggiano cheese and taught his son to play pool.  Columbo’s mother liked books and got very upset if any of the children folded down a page corner.  Grandfather is said to have made wine in the basement and would let Columbo stomp the grapes.  As a younger man grandfather worked as a tail gunner on a beer truck during Probation.

We know Mrs. Columbo had a least one brother George who was short and at one time owned an auto repair shop in the Valley.  We aren’t sure if she had other brothers or if George held many jobs.  In “Case of Immunity” a brother of Mrs. Columbo was a waiter, in “Blueprint for Murder” a brother was an attorney and in”Dagger of the Mind” a brother was in the National Guard.  Did George do all this?  Doubt it, but who knows.  Mrs. Columbo had several sisters, at least three, Rachael, Ruth and Rita.  She also had several nieces and nephews and cousins.

We can’t really be sure if Mr. and Mrs. Columbo had children.  In Rest In Peace Mrs. Columbo he said they never had any children.  In several other shows he mentioned that his wife complained about the ice cream man coming at dinnertime and spoiling the child’s appetite.  In another show he needed a babysitter. In still another show he says he went on a picnic with his wife and kid.  Maybe in the beginning of the shows he and the Mrs. had no children and then as the years go by the had a family.

Whatever the family situations, the Columbo shows offered us many hours of pleasure. We all enjoyed his ability to outfox the criminals who thought because of his appearance and bumbling ways he was stupid.. They didn’t give him any credit for his intelligence until it was too late and he’d  caught them.

There was a later spin off of the Columbo show called Mrs. Columbo in 1979-1980.  In this TV show her first name was Kate .  The show did refer to the fact that her husband was a police lieutenant, but Columbo was never seen.  The program was not very well received and only lasted 13 episodes.  A couple other shows were tried as spin offs of the Mrs Columbo show, but non were successful.


  1. J. Allder says:

    My theory, is that he had no wife or family. He married young and she was killed in a car accident while Columbo was away in the Korean War. As for all those phone calls from his wife ? I presume them to have come from a police dispatch operator, and “wife” was a way of disguising that. And all tje brothers and sisters, etc … I believe Columbo was as screwed up as he was a genius. He made up his extendef family. Probably to combat loneliness. That’s my thought on the matter.

  2. tvnutt says:

    Weird, I found this article on facebook and the by-line said “Frank Columbo.” His first name was NEVER mentioned, however, in the 1960′s an episode of a mystery anthology aired an episode with a character called Columbo. I believe he was called Phillip. Bert Freed played Columbo, from what I’ve read. I’ve never seen the episode.

  3. Cecilia says:

    Rip columbo miss you

  4. Joe T says:

    Columbo the complete third season DVD has an episode from the spinoff “Mrs Columbo”. Kate Mulgrew played Mrs Columbo in that episode titled “Murder is a Parlor Game”. There was mention of a child in that.

  5. Holly says:

    There is a daughter in 1 of the Mrs. Columbo episodes. The title escapes me at the moment. But she tucks her into bed. I have all of the seasons of Columbo on DVD and the Mrs. Columbo was a bonus episode.
    Columbo’s 1st name is never mentioned, but somehow I always believed it to be Frank, lol. Go figure.

  6. Summer_Joy says:

    When was it announced that Columbo’s first name was Frank? As far back as I can remember, his first name was NEVER mentioned. I have the box sets of every episode, plus episodes I recorded myself.

    Also, in the ice cream episode, Mrs. Columbo was referring to children in general…..not necessarily “their” children. She was upset that the ice cream man passed at dinner time disrupting “children’s” dinner (meaning “all” children).

    • Rudy Marmaro says:

      I believe that there is a still frame blow up of his Police ID that I have seen and on it you can make out the name Frank. That is where the idea that his name is Frank comes from, I believe.

  7. Yes I never saw Mrs. Columbo, until her very own show came on. I do remember that old dog Columbo would talk about quite often while cracking a case…I really miss watching old Lt. Columbo and I wish they would show the series again.

    • Bob Shultz says:

      FROM THE MAN HIMSELF: As a wild fan of Columbo all my life, had the unique chance of a lifetime to interview Peter Falk on camera during the promotional phase of his last film, “The Thing About My Folks”. During a light change between the questions, I slid in a couple of Columbo questions. One of which was the “Mrs. Columbo” thing. He, in essence, said it was a TV Network thing. He thought it was a “King Shitty” idea, and should be forgotten. He was wanting to throw in a running line on his series about “someone keeps using my name”. But it never got through. The producers of Columbo and Mrs. Columbo wanted both to have a life of its own. So, they cleverly eluded to Columbo in the opening credits of Mrs. Columbo (lit cigar, crumpled rain coat) but never made a direct line between the two. In the Columbo canon, according to Falk: Mrs. Columbo was NOT his mysterious wife. Never intend to be. She just had the same name as a way of piggy-backing off the success of the original. In fact, I think the Mrs. Columbo series changed names in the second season after the two had quite obviously developed different approaches to storytelling.

  8. Bryan Atneosen says:

    Peter always seemed like a nice guy.
    There are some hilarious youtube videos of him with other
    celebs on the Dick Cavett show!
    I loved “The Thing About My Parents” movie too.
    RIP Peter (and Columbo)

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