Jack Cassidy’s Killer Trio From ‘Columbo’

Peter Falk & Jack Cassidy went head to head in three episodes of “Columbo.”

always been fond of Columbo and the
“mystery movie” series was one of my first go-to nostalgia binges during the
Covid era. Funny thing, as much as I loved Peter Falk as an actor, I was never
crazy about Columbo as a character. The reason I still find Columbo so watchable decades later is
for the great plots and guest villains. Columbo’s
killers came in two categories: those who found the detective’s persistence
irritating, and the others who were charmed by his dogged ways. I’m with the
first category, but still love the show!

When Jack Cassidy’s “Columbo” villain offers victims champagne, real pain follows!

often invited favorite guest villains back for encore performances. One
frequent flier star was Jack Cassidy. With three guest shots, Jack Cassidy was
a classic Columbo killer. Jack’s
villains were smart, supercilious, and elegantly sinister. And yes, all three
of Cassidy’s killers found Lt. Columbo nerve-grating!

The first aired “Columbo”episode is one of the best, directed by Steven Spielberg.

Steven Spielberg, then 24, got on well with “Columbo” star Peter Falk.

Cassidy’s first appearance as a guest villain on Columbo aired Sept. 15, 1971. This was Columbo’s debut as a NBC
series, though “Murder by the Book” wasn’t filmed first. The episode was
considered so smart that it should kick off the show. Young Steven Spielberg
and Steve Bochno directed and wrote the episode, which had much to do with the
fresh take on the familiar detective trope.

Martin Milner of “Adam 12” is guest victim to Jack Cassidy’s villain in “Columbo.”

Milner, in the midst of his successful Adam
series at NBC, plays the guest victim. These stars seemed to get the
short end of the stick, but Columbo was
a very popular series, so it was probably an easy gig for great exposure.

and Milner’s characters are a money-making mystery writing team. As Jim Ferris,
Milner’s writer does most of the actual work, and wants to strike off on his
own; Cassidy’s Ken Franklin is the smoothie who does most of the media
promotion. Franklin lives high on the hog and does not take kindly to the professional
divorce. Ken also has a big insurance policy on Jim, and decides to cash in, by
killing his former cash cow.

Jack Cassidy’s stylish killer works the media & bell bottoms with buttons up the calves’ sides!

lures Jim to his rustic getaway for one last hurrah together. He previously
trashed their LA office to make it look like violence had occurred. Ken shoots
Jim and dumps the body on Franklin’s own lawn, to appear like a hit job.

problem: the gal who runs the local store by his “cabin” saw Jim in
Ken’s car. But the real problem for Ken is that Columbo is on this case and
that means constantly on his ass!

Jack Cassidy, stylishly directed by Steven Spielberg, in his first “Columbo” guest shot.

episode was one of Steven Spielberg’s last TV series gigs and it’s terrific: tightly
wound, with subtle notes of style. I love the opening shot of the writers’
office windows and their great view, as Cassidy pulls up outside, accompanied
by the sound of a typewriter—remember those? How about smarmy Cassidy’s car,
with its “Have a nice day” bumper sticker? Spielberg’s camera angles
for Cassidy’s duplicitous murderer make the audience feel they are seeing his
hidden side.

two previous pilots behind him, Peter Falk eases into his Lt. Columbo role and
would continue refine the character as the show went on. Falk especially shines
opposite smooth criminal Jack Cassidy, with his bumbling demeanor, and theirs
becomes a sly duel of wits. 

Barbara Colby, memorable as a storekeeper with a crush on Jack Cassidy & his cash!

Colby is a standout as Lilly La Sanka, the blackmailing storekeeper who’s in way
over her head. Colby was an actress who was a quirky standout in the ’70s, an era
when performers could look like real people. Despite her questionable actions,
Colby makes her Lilly sympathetic, funny, and sexy. Sadly, Barbara Colby
was a real-life murder victim four years later, when she and actor/boyfriend
James Kiernan were randomly shot in a parking garage July 24, 1975. Colby was a
regular on Cloris Leachman’s Phyllis
and had just turned 36.

Cassidy’s real life personality and persona parallels his portrayals as suave
criminals. Money always was a motive. The murders were meticulously plotted. As
Ken Franklin, he’s coasting, not contributing, but seeks revenge when the real
talent decides to break away. With Cassidy’s piercing pale blue eyes, aristocratic
profile, flashy smile, and cultured voice, Jack reminds me of WB star Zachary
Scott and all the cultured cads he
used to play.

Jack Cassidy, turning on the charm as “Columbo” guest killer Ken Franklin.

real life, Jack was hard living, a heavy drinker and smoker, and a party
animal. As Ken, he’s constantly got a smoke going, and it’s a bit of a surprise
that Jack was only 44. Or to put it in context, Jack was just two years younger
than Paul Newman. Still, Cassidy’s handsome and on his acting game here. He gives
subtle variations of the elegant villain he plays on Columbo. Here, Ken
Franklin’s phony plays the press like a violin and he is also a ladies’ man.

Jack Cassidy’s second “Columbo” guest star role finds him again in the book business.

Jack Cassidy’s second Columbo outing,
1974’s “Publish or Perish,” he is a publisher rather than a writer. Yet, it’s
again the case of a writer wanting to part ways with him that incurs Cassidy’s
character’s greedy wrath.

Greenleaf, homage to The Talented Mr.
Dickie Greenleaf, is a publisher about to lose a successful writer
that he discovered. Like the previous episode, Cassidy’s character has taken out
a massive insurance policy on his golden goose. Greenleaf hires a creepy
Vietnam vet with a passion for explosives to take writer Alan Mallory out…
and not for dinner. Wily Riley creates an excellent alibi for himself by going
on bender, creating public scenes, getting into a fender bender, and finally
getting arrested as drunk and disorderly. The overly-planned murder takes
place, but a few tell-tale twists of fate screw up the scenario. This raises
Columbo’s suspicions and the match between criminal and cop is on.

Jack Cassidy’s Riley Greenleaf consorts with a killer in “Columbo’s” “Publish or Perish.”

was filled with in-jokes, and one is when Columbo meets Greenleaf’s rival
publisher at the famed Chasen’s eatery. Columbo is chagrined at a menu with no
prices, and asks for a bowl of chili. The snooty old waiter is horrified,
natch, but rustles some up. This is funny because Chasen’s chili was renowned, a
favorite of Elizabeth Taylor, who had it flown in to the set of Cleopatra in Italy. Columbo is in
disbelief when a bowl of chili and glass of ice tea sets him back $6.75. He
points out during the series, as a detective, Columbo makes $11,000 a year. We’re
talking nearly 50 years ago, folks!

Columbo is at the crime scene, he rambles on about topics with no relation to
the crime scene, often relating to his wife. Here, he talks about how Mrs.
Columbo kept him up to watch a Bette Davis movie on the late show. He goes on about
what a great actress Davis was—Falk got a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination,
co-starring with Bette in ’61’s A Pocket
Full of Miracles

Mickey Spillane, killed in a chocolate brown leisure suit, as “Columbo” guest victim!

fun ’70s visual style goes on in “Publish or Perish.” The first murder is
depicted with three split screens: the killer-for-hire; the victim at work; and
mastermind Riley enacting his alcohol-fueled alibi. The fashion style finds
Cassidy’s villain sporting lots of turtle necks, while the writer, played by
Mickey Spillane, sports a chocolate brown leisure suit! Mariette Hartley is a
total ’70s babe with flowing Cher hair, a slinky braless jersey gown, and a red
California western girl look at Chasen’s, complete with a red cowboy hat.

Mariette Hartley looking ’70s sexy in the “Columbo” episode “Publish or Perish.”

Chandler always played psychos that creeped me out as a kid, who is killer Eddie
Kane here. Apparently in real life, Chandler came from a wealthy family,
studied acting, and was a yoga enthusiast! All this, despite the fact he looks
like Steve Buscemi, Sr. His character Eddie reminds me of the gruff vet that Seinfeld’s Elaine hires to write the
Peterman catalogue. Side note: In his first two appearances, Cassidy’s characters
ply with fine champagne, before inflicting fatal pain on their secondary

John Chandler, TV boomer villain, looks like Steve Buscemi, Sr. in “Publish or “Perish.”

Chandler’s “Columbo” killer/victim reminds me of this “Seinfeld” weirdo!

Shenar is very handsome and no-nonsense as Sgt. Young, who works with Columbo.
Fans will remember him as the evil drug lord in Scarface. Mickey Spillane is surprisingly relaxed and engaging
as the pulp author who wants to take his writing to the next level, and with a
new publisher.

Handsome Paul Shenar played a fellow detective in “Columbo’s” “Publish or Perish.”
That ’70s guy Jack Bender looks like a cuter Stuart from “The Big Bang Theory!”
Sad sack Stuart from “The Big Bang Theory.”

Bender as Wolpert, the guy who delivers the writing is a total ‘70s guy, with
his curly fro, big brown eyes, and stylish ’70s shirts. He reminds me of a
better-looking Stuart from The Big Bang
. Ironically, he went on to become a prolific TV director, including
a TV bio of The David Cassidy Story!

Jack Cassidy’s Riley Greenleaf sets up his “drunk” alibi & insults a few strangers, too.

Jack Cassidy later repeated Riley Greenleaf’s fake bender later for real, on December
12, 1976. Cassidy tried to get friends to join him for a night out, but settled
for barhopping through West Hollywood. When Jack returned home, he passed
out with a lit cigarette, and died in the subsequent fire.

Jack Cassidy’s finale as a “Columbo” guest killer cast him as a magician.

Cassidy’s final Columbo appearance
was in “Now You See Him.” Cassidy plays “The Great Santini,” a magician who
wants to make his blackmailer boss disappear. This episode aired February of
1976, the year Cassidy died.

“The Great Santini” VS “The Great Columbo” in “Now You See Him.”

episode was directed by Harvey Hart, a prolific TV director who was good with
actors. Nehemiah Persoff is the sweaty and surly restaurant club owner who
blackmails his star attraction when he discovers his Nazi past. Persoff
projects such an animalistic antagonism that you actually feel bad for the
magician was an SS prison guard as a young man. Robert Loggia is the tough head
waiter, who seems more suited as a bouncer. Bob Dishy is rather grating than
ingratiating as the dogged younger detective who’s always at Columbo’s heels. Except
for old-school Cassidy, Loggia and the rest of the middle-aged males all sport
that shaggy hair to try and look like the young ‘70s dudes.

Nehemiah Persoff is a great “Columbo”guest villain/victim as the blackmailer boss.

was an era of less viewer repeat options, but I’m still puzzled as to why Columbo had the same actors as guest
stars multiple times. As memorable as they are, stars like Jack Cassidy and
Robert Culp played the same superior, snide, and impatient characters. And
while Columbo had some golden era
guests like Janet Leigh and Anne Baxter, I’d love to have seen some greats like
Crawford, Davis, Natalie Wood, Edward G. Robinson, Tony Curtis, or Henry Fonda,
to name a few that were doing television at this point.

Jack Cassidy is “The Great Santini” in disguise; this “Columbo” is “Now You See Him.”

The Great Santini, Jack Cassidy’s character is a bit more empathetic, since he
is the victim of blackmail. When it’s apparent that his boss wants more than a
pound of flesh, Cassidy’s illusionist feels he has no other option than to
kill. The magician conjures up an incredibly convoluted plot to off the boss
during his act, and also provide himself an alibi. While ingenious, it’s also a
bit of an eye roll. When Columbo comes to investigate, the alibi makes it even
more of a challenge for the detective. By this point, Falk is well into his run
as Columbo, and his dumb like a fox routine is fully polished, especially
against Cassidy’s master illusionist.

A Jack Cassidy villain with an ascot, natch. In his final “Columbo” ep., Jack was 49.

grace and style make him quite believable as the magic man. While The Great
Santini is just as impatient and perturbed by the persistent Lt. Columbo, he’s
also a bit melancholy, which Cassidy conveys effortlessly.

Cassidy’s style suggested a different era, with his dapper looks and style, in
the laid-back ‘70s. In fact, his style was so studio era classic that Cassidy
was called upon to play John Barrymore in 1976’s W.C. Fields and Me. Even Jack’s appearances on Columbo found the
actor elegant in an array of turtlenecks and ascots, leather, hound tooth, or
corduroy jackets, and even his bell bottoms were creased and in one case,
adorned with buttons.

Cassidy’s villains were all smiling charm and confidence on the outside, but
threatened with having it all taken away. While similar, Jack’s killers were given
Cassidy’s considerable charisma and talent as an actor.

If there had been a “Mildred Pierce” remake in the ’70s, Jack Cassidy would have been perfect
as Mildred’s playboy Monty!

my look at Faye Dunaway’s Emmy-winning turn on Columbo:

FYI: I put all the movie overflow on my public FB movie

Check it out & join!  



Source : https://ricksrealreel.blogspot.com/2022/03/jack-cassidys-killer-trio-from-columbo.html

Leave a Comment

SMM Panel PDF Kitap indir