It turned out that Columbo had another international case to solve.
Spending the past year indoors made it possible for people to watch a lot of old TV shows. Some of us picked up on television history. Did you know, for example, that Peter Falk had to turn to the Romanian population in 1974 to initiate an uprising because of a lack of Columbo Episodes?
For the uninitiated Columbo was an American TV show starring Falk as a detective who kept asking one more question and getting the answers he wanted from suspects. The show originally aired on NBC from 1971 to 1978.
It was very popular at the time and had a reputation for having great guest stars like John Cassavettes and Leonard Nimoy. And the show’s popularity wasn’t just in the United States, but around the world.
In Romania people loved Columbo. They loved it so much that they began to revolt when the 1974 season ran out of episodes. And the government was very concerned.
Just learned that Columbo was so big in Romania that the Romanian government feared citizens would start a revolution when new episodes were set and Peter Falk was called in by the US State Department to cool things down pic.twitter.com/mFTTJTsuWA
– John Frankensteiner (@JFrankensteiner) June 11, 2021
As you can read in this tweet, Twitter user John Frankensteiner unearthed one in 1989 Chicago grandstand Article describing the incident. While many people were shouting “bullshit” the AV club found an interview with Peter Falk, in which he describes the whole incident.
As Falk notes, the Romanian government had a quota on how much American television people could watch. And when Columbo ran out of people, they wanted more. And they were ready to fight for it.
The only problem was Columbo only about 10 episodes per season on average, so there weren’t any more episodes, but the Romanian people believed the government was lying to them and hoarding the detective series.
The US State Department arranged a meeting between Falk and a Romanian representative in New York. They convinced him to read a speech in Romanian to suppress the people. The speech was spelled out phonetically and thanks to Wikileaks, we have it here for you.
“EXCUSE ME. DO YOU HAVE A MINUTE? ALO. I am LT. COLOMBO … SOMETIMES I GET KNOWN AS PETER FALK. WHEN AN ACTOR DOES A ROLE OF PORTRAIT, HE HOPES THAT HE CREATES A CHARACTER THAT THE AUDIENCE CAN BE IDENTIFIED AND WHAT WE HAVE HEARD TO HAVE BEEN HEARD OF HERE IN HOLLYWOOD ABOUT ROMANIA’S ACCEPTANCE OF THE COLOMBO SHOW. SERIOUSLY, I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW MUCH EVERYONE RELATED TO THE COLOMBO SHOW HAS ABOUT SUCH WARMING NEWS. THANK YOU TO ROMANIAN TELEVISION FOR TAKING UP THE AIR ON SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS. BUT ABOVE ALL, ALL OF US, ME AND THE CREW AND THE OTHER ACTORS, WE WANT TO THANK THE ROMANIAN PEOPLE FOR THE GREAT RESPONSE TO OUR SHOW. I HOPE ONE DAY I CAN COME TO YOUR COUNTRY AND ENJOY THE TRADITIONAL CULTURE AND HOSPITALITY OF THE ROMANIAN PEOPLE. In the meantime, COLOMBO WILL SEE YOU AGAIN ON TELEVISION IN AUTUMN. Until then, once again, my thanks and my best to everyone.”
This is very strange, of course, but when you’ve seen a Columbo Episode, you know they can be really fun and addicting especially if you thought some higher power was holding them away from you.
Let us know what you think of this wild story in the comments.