“Columbo” was a long running TV series; 69 episodes, from, 1971 to 2003. 39 years total.
It starred Peter Falk as Lieutenant Columbo of the LAPD Homicide Division. It won many awards and included top name actors. The first episode was directed by Steven Spielberg.
The plots always showed us the murder, and showed us how the killer was caught by Columbo’s brilliant detective work.
His character had many quirks. He always wore a rumpled raincoat over a suit and tie. Even in the summer. He has a keen intellect and good taste, which he hides very well. No one ever says his first name. When asked he replies: “Lieutenant.” When he shows his ID, you can see the name ‘Frank.’ His wife is always, “Mrs Columbo.” Her name and photo are never shown.
He is always polite, “Sir,” “Ma’am,” “Miss.” He never carries a gun. Drives a beat up 1959 French Peugeot. Has a limp Basset Hound named “Dog.” Sports a short, unlit cigar. Falk actually has a glass right eye, due to cancer at the age of three.
He can pester a suspect then give up. At the last moment he will turn back with, “Oh, there is just one more thing,” and a pointed question. This is called a ‘False End’ (Thank you Wikipedia).
Falk aged along with the series, starting out at a young 44 and finishing at the age of 76. You can buy the Complete 69 episodes on iOffer. From $25 to $40 for 34 discs. I have them all. A great bargain.
This is a proposed script that would have been submitted at the time. The female protagonist would have been played by the beautiful Ann Margret. It’s written in a condensed form for easy reading. Enjoy.
Lt. Columbo is typing a report, when the Desk Sergeant comes in.
Sgt.; “Lieutenant. I’ve got a woman that wants to report a murder.”
Columbo; “Send her in, Sargent.”
Maud, a dowdy sort of middle aged woman, named comes in. She looks worried and excited.
Maud; “They said I should see you.”
Columbo; “Who is they?”
Maud; “The people in Crime prevention. I talked to them. They all laughed and said, “See Columbo in Homicide.” So that’s why I’m here.”
Columbo; “Crime Prevention always send me the hard ones. Who was murdered?”
Maud; ” He isn’t murdered yet. But she’s going to kill him.”
Columbo; “You mean there’s no murder? Then I can’t help you.”
Maud; “But you can prevent it.”
Columbo; “You want Crime Prevention.”
Maud; “But they laughed at me.”
Columbo; “It’s their little joke.”
Maud; “This is not a joking matter. She’s going to kill him, just like all the others.”
Columbo; “She’s killed others?”
Maud; “Yes all of them. She’s not going to stop now.”
Columbo; “How do you know all of this.
Maud; “I’ve got it all in this scrap book. Every murder. I’ve made a copy for you.”
She hands Columbo a thick scrapbook.
Maud; “Just look at it. That’s all I ask. You’ll see.”
Columbo; “Madam, I can’t spend police time on something that hasn’t happened. My job is to solve crimes after they happen.”
Maud; “Aren’t you even curious about the other murders?”
Columbo; “Did they happen in Los Angeles?’
Maud; “Well, ‘Back East.”
Columbo; “Back East is out of my jurisdiction.”
Maud; “I tell you it’s a pattern. She married a big builder, He got killed. She married a wealthy playboy, He disappeared. She married a big Oil Billionaire, He died. Now she has married Walter. He’s going to die like all the others. I know it.”
Columbo; “Like I said, I cant solve a murder that hasn’t happened. Come back afterwords.”
Maud; “At least take it home and read it. I’ve included plenty of notes.”
Columbo takes it home and reads it. Then re-reads it. Then reads it a third time. Then takes notes. It’s a fascinating piece of amateur detective work. He has to give her credit.
Gloria Darling, (The Darlings had a sense of humor), was born in Charleston South Carolina. She won local beauty contests. (There are copies of the news clippings. Maud is thorough to say the least.)
At 20, she moved to Chicago. Within a year she married D. F. Shultz, a building mogul. 18 months later he was swept off the 12th floor of a tower he was building. It was a crane accident, and in all the papers. (clippings included)
The crane operator, Bill Sims, was absolved of any charges. It was ruled an industrial accident. Gloria was sole heir to a $ 300 million dollar mega fortune. She was a joint tenant to all the properties. The will left everything else to her.
The crane operator was unemployable in Chicago. He moved to Las Vegas and made a fortune gambling. He started ‘Mile High Cranes’, during the building boom. Here were his tax returns, showing he made $ 2,000.000, AFTER taxes, in one year. (Whoops! How did Maud get his tax returns? You can’t get a person’s tax returns. He better check on that.)
Gloria Schultz studied Business law and Real Estate Marketing for a year, then threw up her hands and sold everything to Nakamishi Holdings, a Japanese company that wanted to break into the American market. She moved to Boston. A young, beautiful, wealthy woman who fit into the top Boston circles.
She married a wealthy Boston socialite and professional yachtsman, Peter van Sant. He was tanned, handsome and as wealthy as King Croesus. He not only raced yachts, he built them. The honey moon was a sail to the Bahamas, on his newly rechristened boat the “Gloria”. During warm weather, they lived, loved, and tanned, aboard the Gloria. During bad weather, they lived and loved in his ancestral mansion in Boston.
It all came to an end on a trip to Miami for a regatta. They sailed in choppy seas. Nothing serious for the Gloria. On board was their seagoing dog, Rudder, a well known Boston, plastic surgeon, Dr. James Goodall and his girl friend Amanda.
Off the Carolina banks, Peter had the night watch while the others slept. In the morning it was too quiet. Rudder usually barked at seagulls. They went topside and found Peter and Rudder missing. They found a life vest and Rudder’s special ‘dog vest’, still in the wheelhouse.
They were off the Cape Hatteras Light Station, about 40 hours out of Boston. Gloria was now a good yachtsman herself. She dropped a buoy and radioed the Coast guard. They lowered and reefed the sails, swung around, and motored back, retracing their route, as recorded by the GPS; It took them 4 hours at full throttle to get back to the point where Peter had taken over from James. The Coast Guard Search and Rescue helicopter covered the same route. Nothing was sighted. They kept criss crossing the area for two days. When the Coast Guard gave up, so did they.
The Carolina police examined and the Coast Guard gave evidence. The police were the “Good ole boy” types, not happy on boats, and accepted whatever the Coast Guard said. The Coast Guard’s conclusions were: ‘The dog had fallen overboard and Peter rushed to save him, without donning a life vest. The boat sailed on, leaving them behind. The only thing unusual was some grey grit in the lifeboat. (Maud has a handwritten note: ‘CONCRETE BLOCKS!!’)
The will stated: “Everything went to her.” Gloria was Joint Tenant on everything. The disenfranchised heirs fought it. But it was ironclad. She sold the boat business to “Big Yachts.” She sold the mansion, cashed out every stock, bond, and asset, for: $ 140,000.000 (photos and clippings).
The memories of Boston were too hard for Gloria van Sant to bear. She moved to Dallas loaded with money. A young woman who looked like her, had wealth like her, was welcome into the ‘Oil Crowd.’ The perfect “Trophy Wife.” A year later she married Samuel P. Samson, of Samson Oil. It was the biggest wedding Dallas had ever seen. He showed her off on every occasion. With her gold hair, blue eyes, and emerald green sequined dress, he was the envy of everyone in Texas. For a year, Sam and Gloria made love like bunnies.
Then Sam had a heart attack during an extra vigorous session. A blow to her happiness. (Clippings showed a weeping Gloria Samson). Again, she was the sole heir, with an ironclad will. Billionaires wanted to comfort her. She sold EVERYTHING, and netted $1.4 billion, after taxes.
Dallas proved too hot without her beloved Sam, and she moved to Hollywood. She was going to try her hand at movie making. She certainly had the money for it. She made two flops in a row and became a laughing stock of the in-crowed. The only success was a ‘Box Office Hit.’ She was rescued by the famous Walter Monitor, of ‘Monitor Movies.’ He never had a flop. He proposed merger, marriage, and money. The marriage was a red carpet affair, with Lights! Action! Camera! Everyone who was anyone in Hollywood, paid homage to the new couple.
Columbo calls Maud back into the office.
Maud; “Lieutenant, She is going to kill him soon.”
Columbo; “How do you know that?”
Maud; “She’s taking my place and is going to drive me out.”
Columbo; “What, exactly, IS, ‘Your place?”
Maud; “I take care of his needs.”
Columbo; “All he needs is a housekeeper.”
Maud; “I mean his SPECIAL needs. Men with power, like CEO’s, Politicians, Bankers, and Judges, often have special needs.”
Columbo; “I still don’t get it what special needs are.”
Maud; “Well People do whatever these men say. No one would dare opposes them. But most of them grew up with a domineering mother who belittled them. That’s why they struggle to succeed. To get mother’s approval. But deep down, they’re still little boys needing a domineering mother.”
Columbo; “And Judges too? Are you their domineering mother?”
Maud; “Yes, I’m a Dominatrix, and a very good one.”
Columbo; “That’s a new one me. You have some personal tax returns. That’s a felony.”
Maud; “I didn’t get them, I hired private detectives. They got them.”
Columbo; “All this must have cost a fortune.”
Maud; “It was very expensive. Walter paid for it.”
Columbo; ”Why would he pay to have his girlfriend investigated?”
Maud; “I beat him. Well, whipped him actually, and called him a cheap, sniveling, little coward”
Columbo; ”Why didn’t he stop you?”
Maud; “He was tied up.”
Columbo; “This is getting worse. Why do you think she’s taking over, and driving you out?”
Maud; “She’s talented and a fast learner. She bought all new equipment and a S&M wardrobe that would knock your eye out. Shiny black boots, black leather pants, black bra, and mask. With her figure and gold hair, she could charge a thousand dollars an hour.”
Columbo; “You mean that you can buy all this stuff?”
Maud; “Yes. You can get it everywhere. Do you believe me now?”
Columbo; “Yes. But I can’t do this on my own. There’s no murder. I’ll have to talk to the Captain.”
The Captain says that is far above his grade level. They will have to talk to the Chief and get his approval. Besides there’s that tax thing. The Chief of Police of the City of Los Angeles had come from Dallas, and was wise to high pressure politics, and political influence.
Columbo and the Captain lay it out to the Chief.
Chief; “Well gentleman. You’ve a very persuasive scenario here. What do you expect me to do?”
Columbo; “Give us the go-ahead and investigate further.”
Chief; “But there’s been no crime committed. There’s that tax thing. If we sent a letter to Mr. Monitor on Department stationary, warning him that his wife is going to kill him, his lawyers would open us up like a can of sardines. If we sent an anonymous letter, his lawyers would demand that we investigate it. We would be investigating ourselves. It’s a lose lose situation. Do you have any vacation time coming?”
Columbo; “Yes sir. I never take vacations.”
Chief; “Well. You will now. You can be on your unused, paid vacation time. I can give you a small budget to visit other Police Departments to brush up on the latest techniques. But I’ll tell you right now Columbo, if you win, I’ll say that you had my full backing. If you loose, I’ll say that you were a rogue elephant, and I had absolutely no knowledge of your actions. By the way, this conversation never took place. What was the name of his dominatrix?”
Columbo goes to Las Vegas, and talks to casino owners. Who can make 3 million in one year? Only Saudi Princes. If an ordinary person did it, they would either be barred for life, or dead.
Columbo; “Mr. Sims; I’m Lieutenant Colombo, of the Los Angeles Police Homicide Devision.”
Sims; “I’ve never Been to Los Angeles.”
Columbo; “Did you know Gloria Schultz?”
Sims; “Never heard of her.”
Columbo; “That’s strange, since you murdered her husband.”
Sims; “I did NOT murder her husband!”
Columbo; “Is that the same husband of the woman you never heard of?”
Sims; “I may of heard her name.”
Columbo; “Did you hear of the three million payoff she gave you?”
Sims; “I won that money gambling. And I payed taxes.”
Columbo; “That’s not what the casino owners say. They said you’d be dead.”
Sims; “You can’t prove a thing.”
Columbo; “Well, there’s always circumstantial evidence. Three million is a lot of incentive.”
Sims; “I won that gambling.”
Columbo; “We just went over that. The casinos will deny it. The IRS can get you on money fraud and tax evasion. Federal crimes, that can get you 10 to 20, in the penitentiary. No fun there. Then there’s the casinos to worry about.”
Sims; “Why should that bother me?”
Columbo; “They don’t like being made fun of. Bad PR. Your tower might fall, with you in it.”
Sims; “Is that a threat?”
Columbo; “No, It’s more like a promise. Those are some very bad boys you’re dealing with”
Sims; ”What can I do?”
Columbo; ”You can write out a full confession. I can dictate it.”
Sims; “Are you crazy, Columbo? I can’t do that. I’ll get the chair, or whatever.”
Columbo; “It will go in my pocket, and never come out. I’m not after you, I’m after the big fish.”
Sims; “Gloria Schutz?”
Columbo; “Sure. You’re just bait for the hook. You can sell your business. Fly down to Argentina, and start ‘Cranes de Argentina.’ There’s no extradition laws. I have some stationary. You start out: “I, William Sims, state that on the day of, …… You sign it. Date it. And put your thumb print on it. I put in my pocket and leave. You sell and fly. That’s the end of it.”
Colombo returns to LA. The next morning the big news is that Walter Monitor of Monitor Movies, has died of “Over Exercise.” Meaning: “He fucked himself to death.” He is survived by his grieving widow, Gloria Monitor and his loyal housekeeper. After the typical Hollywood Funeral, he’s to be cremated. Better work fast.
Columbo is one of the first to arrive to watch the show. It ’s like a red carpet occasion, but with a blue carpet outside of the Hollywood Presbyterian Church. The Holly/Pres, at the corner of Santa Monica and Rodeo Drive, is where where all the best weddings and funeral are held. Stretch Limo’s are lined up on Santa Monica Blvd. Just like a Premiere. The Beverly Hills Police, who will always do the studios bidding, hold back the throngs. His badge gets him a seat. There are hours of eulogies by Directors, Producers, A-List Stars. Everyone and anyone that wants to be SEEN, is there. The beautiful widow, all in chic black Dior, quietly sobs in the front pew. The grim-faced Loyal Housekeeper is three rows back.
After it’s all over, the church empties so everyone who had been seen can get back to making money. Columbo introduces himself:
Columbo; “Excuse me, Mrs. Monitor. I don’t want to bother you in your hour of grief. I’m Lieutenant Columbo, of the Los Angeles Police Department, Homicide Division. I wanted to offer you my sincere condolences on your loss. It must be quite a blow.”
Columbo looks like a stray dog in a rumpled raincoat. He has tried to improve his appearance by chewing on a NEW cigar.
Gloria; “Why are the police here?”
Columbo; “Just a formality, Ma’am. When someone as important as your late husband passes away, nosy people ask if there was foul play. We have to be ready with the answers.”
Gloria; “Was there foul play on this one, Columbo? What’s your first name again?”
Columbo; “Lieutenant. It obviously was a natural death. Were you two engaged in sex at the time?”
Gloria; “That’s none of your business!”
Columbo; “You’re right, Ma’am. I shouldn’t have asked. I just wanted to clear up a minor point.”
Colombo turns to go, then stops.
Columbo; “Oh, by the way. There’s just one more thing. Do you know Bill Sims?”
Gloria; “I never heard of him.”
Columbo; “He’s never heard of you either.”
His next trip is to the office of the Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon, Dr. James Goodall. His badge gets him an instant appointment. Otherwise there would be a three month wait. He introduces himself, and comes to the point.
Columbo; “How did you kill Peter van Saint and his dog, Rudder?”
James Goodall’s face looks like he needs plastic surgery.
James; “You can’t come in here and accuse me of murder!”
Columbo; “Did you know Gloria Van Saint?”
James; “I might have heard the name.”
Columbo; “Did you hear her name when she gave you six million dollars to leave Boston and move to Beverly Hills?”
James; “I was planning on moving anyway.”
Columbo; “But you didn’t have the money. Gloria’s proposition came at the opportune time.”
James; “How do you know all this?”
Columbo; “Amanda told us.”
James Goodall sits back and laughs.
James; “Amanda couldn’t tell you anything. She was drugged. Uh, I mean..”
Columbo; “You mean she was drugged. You just admitted to murder. We know about the concrete blocks. Did you use adrenaline? That’s very popular and easy for a doctor to obtain.”
James; “Now, see here Columbo. You can’t prove a thing.”
Columbo; “Where did you get the Six Million?
James; “From my practice in Boston.”
Columbo; “You know, Money laundering… Evading taxes on six million is a crime. 10 to 20, in prison. Besides, we have the surveillance tapes from Boston Big-Box. They show you buying concrete blocks. They even have your receipt and credit card information.”
James; “How could you do that. That was years ago.”
Columbo; “They store everything in the ‘cloud.” Never delete it. It would take a hundred years to fill. Did she get more adrenaline from you in Dallas, when she was Mrs. Samson? His heart gave out during sex. What about in Hollywood, when she murdered Walter Monitor?”
James; “I never heard from her after Boston.”
Columbo; “I have all the phone records between you and Gloria, starting back in Dallas. AT&T is very helpful if it’s a murder case. We have you on one count of murder and two accessories to murder. It looks like ’25 to Life.”
James; “I can’t go to prison, Columbo!”
Columbo; “That’s what they all say. But I can help you. Ever hear of Argentina?”
James; “What’s Argentina got to do with it?”
Columbo; “There’s no extradition agreement with Argentina. Too many old Nazis down there.”
James; ”What do you want me to do?”
Columbo; “A complete written confession. Sell your business for 10 million and skip to Argentina. Never come back. You’re off the hook. A lot of pretty faces down there. Better than those mugs in prison. Write it on your letterhead. It’s Gloria we’re after. I will show you how.”
James; “You sure know how to screw a guy, Columbo.”
Columbo; “How did you get van Sant and the others to sit still for the injections?”
James; “Knock-out drops. Chloral Hydrate in the drinks. They’re dead to the world. Same thing with Amanda, and Rudder. Old fashioned, but they work.”
Two hours later, Columbo comes back to Headquarters, with the confessions. He finds the Captain. They go to the Chief of Police, who can’t believe his eyes.
Chief; “My God, Columbo. I never saw a better piece of police work in all my life. Where did you get all the evidence?’
Columbo; “I didn’t have any evidence. It was all bluff.”
Chief; “You mean that you don’t have videos of Goodall buying concrete blocks?”
Columbo; ” No, Sir. The store only keeps records for six months.”
Chief; “What about the phone calls?”
Columbo; No Sir. At&T won’t release anything, without a detailed subpoena.”
Chief; “That beats everything. Confessions to four murders, without any evidence, except the confessions themselves. I can’t believe it Columbo, I’ll make you a Commander.”
Columbo; “Please don’t, sir. I’m happy just being a detective so I can work on solving crimes. Being a Commander is no fun at all. Besides, I would have to wear a fancy uniform. I couldn’t think in it. Mrs. Columbo bought me a new raincoat, and my mind went blank.”
Chief; “Well, we will give you merit pay, or something. No evidence! What about Mrs. Monitor?”
Columbo; “I’ll work something out.”
Chief; “Are you really going to let Sims and Goodall off the hook?”
Columbo; “Yes sir. A promise is a promise. Besides, during the trial, Gloria will try to pin it on them. I won’t have to say anything. The Chicago, Boston, and Dallas police can fight over it.”
Columbo; “Good evening, Mrs. Monitor. Can I come in? I have some news about your husband. We just found out he was murdered.”
Columbo; “Yes Ma’am. He was injected with a massive dose of Adrenaline.”
Gloria; “That can’t be. I was with him all the time.”
Columbo; “Yes Ma’am, you were. You gave the shot. I have the toxicology reports right here. Both brain and liver show Chloral Hydrate and an overdose of Adrenaline. Proof positive. I also have signed full confessions from Goodall and Sims. They will stand behind them.”
Gloria; “YOU LITTLE SHIT! I’ll give you a hundred million dollars to forget the whole thing.”
Columbo; “You just confessed to murder, Ma’am. I’m wearing a wire. Everything you’ve said has been recorded in a van outside. Come on in boys.”
Gloria; “YOU CRUMMY LITTLE SHRIMP! I’ll kill you! They will NEVER convict me! Look at how beautiful I am. No one is going to put ME in prison. You’re going to be out a 100 million.”
Sgt.; “You’re crazy, Columbo. You just turned down a hundred million dollar bribe.”
Columbo; “I did. But Mrs. Columbo would want me to wear new suits all the time. It’s not worth it.”
(Written Sept 15, 2016)