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He had burned so many bridges that he became persona non grata to many producers.”His secretary Janet Saunders-Raein admits: “He really was sometimes his own worst enemy.”Falk used Columbo as a springboard to appear in films including The In-Laws, The Princess Bride, and Wings Of Desire but he never stopped trying to make more Columbo films, though his 2003 outing proved to be his last.

Columbo always seemed to be forgetting things in his TV mysteries, about to leave his suspect when he would turn and say: “Oh, one more thing...”.

The CIA laughed him out of the building.“He wanted to be a rifleman but was rejected on account of his one eye. He ended up working as an efficiency expert for the Budget Bureau of the state of Connecticut.”Trying his hand at acting, his agent warned Falk that with only one eye he would never make it in film or TV.

In Murder By Death in 1976, Columbia Pictures chief Harry Cohn rejected his first screen test, saying: “For the same price I can get an actor with two eyes.”Yet he became a Broadway star and in Hollywood earned Oscar nominations for his breakthrough role in 1960 gangster movie Murder, Inc – ironically as a mob boss – and dramatic comedy A Pocketful Of Miracles the following year.

Though he acted in school plays, Falk didn’t turn to acting professionally until he was 29.

“The son of affluent parents, Peter had drifted for years seeking adventure,” says Lertzman.“He wanted to be a CIA agent, but he had worked building railroads in Communist-controlled Yugoslavia for six months, plus he had a glass eye.

Peter Falk tried to become a CIA spy and rifleman, the book reveals, before reluctantly becoming an actor despite a dismissive warning from his father: “You are going to paint your face and make an ass of yourself all your life.”His career would include two Oscar nominations and 58 films, yet was overshadowed by his 69 Columbo episodes.“Falk loved playing Columbo, never feared being stereotyped, and was planning on making more episodes right up to his death,” says Lertzman.“He had played the forgetful but gifted detective for so long that the two merged together.

“Creating is so hard.” But success went to Falk’s head and he became obsessively controlling over every role.“He made life a living hell for TV and film directors, arguing over every line and every camera angle,” says Birnes.“He became notorious for delaying filming and sending budgets soaring.“Many studios would not approve a project that had Peter attached to it.

, Robert Redford acts as Bill Mckay, a political neophyte who is drafted out of the blue into a race for the U. Therefore, he tweaks the political establishment at every turn.

With no chance whatsoever of winning, Mckay is given a free hand to say whatever he likes on the stump.

Lee J Cobb of On The Waterfront also rejected the role.“Even Peter Falk didn’t want to be tied down to the rigours of a series but he had just been swindled out of 0,000 by his manager and was desperate.

He took the job he didn’t want because he was financially nervous.”Falk was an unlikely Hollywood star: under 5ft 6ins, with a glass right eye – his own was removed at the age of three to save his life from a malignant tumour – and lacking the typical leading man’s chiselled looks.

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