Columbo's Raincoat - Homicide
detective Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) on the police drama COLUMBO/NBC/1971-78/ABC/1989-90
always wore a rumpled raincoat as he investigated the scene of a
In an interview with TV Guide (5/10/97 p.9) Peter
Falk confided, "I bought that coat on 57th Street in 1966 while on
my way to England to film a movie. It had started to rain, and I
needed a coat. A few years later, when we started COLUMBO, I told
the costume folks I had the perfect coat." The raincoat was
retired in 1991 when it became to "frail and fragile."
Peter Falk owns the original raincoat and lovingly stores it at
his Beverly Hills home as a souvenir from his early days as Lt. Columbo.
Reportedly, Columbo's original raincoat was manufactured in Spain,
by a company called Cortefiel.
Although there have been stand-in raincoats over they years,
Columbo's raincoat follows some general features. The raincoat has two hip pockets;
and tattered cuffs. And the coat is always wrinkled, and stained
with tobacco from his cigars and spots from his favorite food (chili).
Sharp-eyed viewer may notice that occasionally, the size of the
lapels, or the length of the coat can vary.
To turn a
brand-new raincoat into the disheveled one worn by Columbo, the
wardrobe people at Universal Studios used the following trade
First, scuff the raincoat's cuffs with sandpaper;
Second, bleach the coat to fade its color;
Third, add fabric softener to remove any stiffness;
Fourth, add mineral oil to produce unsightly grease stains;
Fifth, rub in dirt to produce the grubby, disheveled look;
Sixth, place coat in washing machine for multiple washings;
And finally, hang the coat to dry, remembering to stuff the
pockets with wet paper towels to create extra bagginess.
Once, the Lt. Character showed up in a brand new chocolate brown
raincoat with large lapels that his wife ("the Missus") gave him
in an attempt to upgrade his wardrobe. Columbo wasn't crazy about
the gift and did his best to lose it. Eventually, Columbo retuned
the coat claiming it was the wrong size and then re-donned his
battered, familiar old raincoat..
On episode "Negative Reaction," Columbo visited a soup
kitchen and one of the nuns on duty mistakes him for a vagrant and
tries to convince Columbo that she could provide him with a nicer
||Oh, that coat, tsk-tsk,
that-coat-that-coat-that-coat...I found exactly the right
thing, look, it's warm, and it's hardly been used at all.
Stand up, we'll try it on..
||Y'know, I appreciate what you're doin, I
really do, but..., I've had this coat for seven years...
||Oh, you poor man!!!
||Don't be ashamed...
||No, I'm very fond of it!
||[Columbo then explains he's an cop and the
nun thinks he dressed for undercover]
||You fooled even me!
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