Peter Falk, Star of Columbo, Dies at 83

Peter Falk, Columbo Star, Dies at 83
Peter Falk as Lt. Columbo

updated 06/24/2011 AT 04:00 PM EDT

originally published 06/24/2011 AT 01:50 PM EDT

Peter Falk, who played the shuffling, raincoat-wearing detective in Columbo, has died at age 83.

The New York-born actor died Thursday, a family spokesman tells Los Angeles radio news station KNX 1070.

Falk won four Emmys as Lt. Frank Columbo on the long-running series, his disheveled, seemingly absent-minded character matching wits each week with a foe who never failed to underestimate the detective.

Getting his start in community theater in Connecticut, Falk moved back to New York to pursue acting professionally despite warnings from agents that his glass eye – his right eye was surgically removed at age 3 due to a tumor – would hold him back.

But in 1960, he got his big break in the gangster flick Murder Inc., a film that Falk later called a "miracle" that "made my career" in his autobiography. The film earned him an Academy Award nomination. He earned a second nomination a year later for Pocketful of Miracles.

He also won an Emmy in 1961 for acting in The Dick Powell Theater.

In 2009, Falk was placed in a conservatorship by a judge about two years after developing dementia, setting up a dispute over his affairs between the actor's daughter Catherine and his wife, Shera.
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