When I was asked if would write a foreword to this book about Peter Falk, a flood of memories from almost thirty years of friendship came over me. I first met Peter in 1983 when we had the ability to work together on a couple of one-act plays in Chicago. Less than two years later we toured the country together for six months doing the play Glengarry Glen Ross. Of course I knew who he was prior to that, as I had seen him in various film and television performances over the years.
I especially remember the first time I saw him perform was in the television film The Price of Tomatoes, now included in an anthology called the Golden Age of Television, as it aptly should be. That performance alone moved me to believe I was watching one of our time’s greatest actors. To many millions he will most fondly be remembered as their beloved Lieutenant Colombo, a role that resonated with audiences worldwide. In fact, Peter once told me how the U.S. State Department requested he film a video to be shown to the people of Bulgaria to let them know that their government was not withholding new episodes of Colombo from them; it was just due to an actors’ strike in the U.S. that new episodes were not arriving. Now that’s star power when it can help insure world peace!
The fact is, it’s too daunting for me to recall all that could and should be said about the life of this man. Since I was a very young man when I lost my father, I’m well aware of the fact that I’ve had a tendency in my life to gravitate toward exceptional men I’ve met to somehow fill that void for me. Peter was right at the top of that list. The times we shared as friends were many and memorable. As an actor he brought us all laughter and tears. As a man, his friendship brought me countless laughter; his passing brought me a wellspring of tears. To recount the times we had, I’d have to write a book of my own, but those memories are destined to remain in my memory.
Joe Mantegna at the dedication ceremony he arranged for Peter’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I feel blessed that on July 25, 2013 I had the opportunity to insure that he received his long-postponed star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and further blessed that they granted my request that his star be placed next to mine. Some of the most memorable times of my life have been spent with Peter, along with his wife Shera and my wife Arlene, as well as the wonderful group of friends he surrounded himself with. If one is so inclined, they could go online and see the eulogy I gave for Peter on the day he received that Hollywood Star, as I feel that speech best summed up my feelings for this special man. I loved him dearly, and while Peter would probably hate all the hoopla of books and articles being written about him, I can think of no one in my profession who deserves more the respect and attention the exemplary life and career this extraordinary man lived.