Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Columbo's First Name - Philip or Frank ?

Detective's First NAME
There are lots of columbophiles wondering about the first name of Lieutenant Columbo, and the detective never revealed his Christian name in the series. So, the first name is still a mystery to the fans, except for Chief Inspector Morse, rarely a fictional detective's first name generated much fascination. Morse was quite uncomfortable about his first name other than an alphabet “E” or blatantly did say that his first name is “Inspector”. Like Morse, when asked for the first name Columbo also replied his name as "Lieutenant" (Episode: Undercover) For Columbo, “Lieutenant” almost became his first name and “Mrs.” almost became his wife’s in that perspective. Two first names for Columbo often popularly mentioned for Columbo are either Philip or Frank. 
Philip Columbo
Philip could be the lieutenant’s first name primarily because was the name used in the original story, Prescription: Murder and Peter Falk himself like it.
 The actor who portrayed Columbo from 1968 to 2003 mentioned that if Columbo has a first name he prefer it is “Philip”. Another reason, it says, the ad campaign of the automobile giant Peugeot saying Lieutenant Philip Columbo is their most famous driver of Peugeot 403 convertible (the series (1955-1966) has only
2,050 cars produced and only 1959 model Peugeot 403 were only 504).

The famous Fred Worth million copyright infringement suit against “Trivial Pursuit” was another reason for the argument for and against Philip Columbo story. Author of  “Super Trivia” Fred Worth sued “Trivial Pursuit” for 300 million dollars for using his book  to create the trivia board game. His ace in the sleeve was the Lieutenant Columbo’s first name! Yes, Fred wrote the famous detective’s first name is Philip, which came directly from his mind, insisting that it was nothing but a fabrication to use against potential copy pirates. “Trivial Pursuit” publishers admitted that they used his book as reference and there is nothing improper or illegal about it. The Judge dismissed the case even before coming to trial and In 1987, the dismissal was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. “Trivial Pursuit” removed the name Philip Columbo as the first name of Lieutenant Columbo. Yet, the name Philip as Columbo’s first name persists.

Still, there is another reason, according to Cop Cookbook, a cookbook of favourite cuisine by the famous fictional detectives mentioned Columbo’s first name as Philip when it created an entry for “Pumpkin Lasagna.” All these reasons influenced the public to believe Columbo’s first name as Philip.
Frank Columbo
The strong argument for “Frank” as the first name for Columbo came from the episode “Dead Weight” (1971), in which Columbo shows his police identity (warrant) card to
Major General Martin Hollister (Eddie Albert) which can be read his name as Frank Columbo. No wonder Franco Columbu, the body builder is almost his relative!
The box-set of seasons 1-4 (Universal/ Playback), has a picture of Columbo's police badge on the back of the box, with signature "Frank Columbo" and the name "Lt Frank Columbo" in type was another victory for the “Frank” group.
Peter Columbo
Well, there is also mentions of Peter Columbo as Lieutenant’s first name which was denied by Peter Falk saying he prefer the name Philip. Peter is the actor’s first name not the character’s!
First Name
The only people which could answer the mystery question are the creators of Columbo 
Richard Levinson and William Link. However, they are stubbornly silent on his first name, somehow that’s the beauty of it…don’t you think?

This blog is the answer to fiso85khs’ Youtube question –“But the character is definetly no "Philip". I mean the character is a Frank, don't you think?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0Yy1pTFzsw


  1. It's Frank! 2 Episodes show the same I.D. and it clearly is signed Frank Columbo.

  2. Regardless of what Peter Falk felt the name should be Unknown is correct but that is only the set managers interpretation. The actual creators have never given him a first name therefore all names are incorrect,I believe.

    1. The set manager wouldn't just put a name on the badge without checking with the producers. Especially if the name is shown as Frank in 2 episodes. Not mentioning his name or showing his wife was just a gimmick. His name was Frank.

  3. Regardless of what Peter Falk felt the name should be Unknown is correct but that is only the set managers interpretation. The actual creators have never given him a first name therefore all names are incorrect,I believe.

  4. Because Mr. fall preferred Philip and Frank isn't. Name to be ashamed of, I believe Philip is correct. I had Mr. Worth's book and the entry detail does seem to agree with a fabrication. I think Mr. Worth knew exactly what he was doing.

  5. Perhaps it is both and Frank is his legal name, but at home he goes by Philip, his middle name. Frank is more of a tough-guy cop name. Fun to speculate!

  6. The producers of the show would never have given it away. If I am Columbo I would be asking the question "Why on Earth would you give away his name"? It is Philip simply because they could keep it concealed by providing a phony name that people would look at. I also believe that Mr. Worth by having the genuine name could even more easily claim it came form him!