Ransom for a Dead Man

Season 1, Ep 2, Aired 3/1/71
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  • Episode Description
  • Lawyer Leslie Williams concocts an elaborate plan to make her husband's murder look like a kidnapping gone wrong. When it looks like all the bases are covered, Columbo must find a way to trip up this calm and collected lady.

  • Cast & Crew
  • William Link

    Based on a Character Created by

  • John Fink

    Michael Clarke

  • Harold Gould


  • Richard Irving

  • Patricia Mattick


  • Fan Reviews (5)
  • Columbo 2.0

    By DannMichalski, Aug 05, 2013

  • Columbo loses pen, catches killer

    By OmarCayenne, Apr 10, 2012

  • Hey! It's another pilot episode!

    By lynnellingwood, Aug 25, 2008

  • A distinct improvement on Prescription Murder.

    By LAntichristo, Jul 21, 2006

  • Columbo started out with a pilot movie. This show started the series. It is cliched and dated, but still a worthy start.

    By danasdude, Aug 03, 2005

  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (7)

    • Columbo: Mrs. William, you have no conscience and that's your weakness. Did it ever occur to you that there are very few people who would take money to forget about a murder? It didn't, did it? I knew it wouldn't.

    • Leslie: You know, Columbo, you're almost likable in a shabby sort of way. Maybe it's the way you come slouching in here with your shopworn bag of tricks. Columbo: Me? Tricks? Leslie: The humility, the seeming absentmindedness, the homey anecdotes about the family, the wife, you know. Columbo: Really? Leslie: Yeah, Lt. Columbo fumbling and stumbling along but it's always the jugular that he's after. And I imagine that more often than not he's successful

    • Leslie: Lt. Columbo? Columbo: Yeah? Leslie: Thank you for straightening Margaret out. I appreciate it. Columbo: Oh, it was the only thing I could do. I mean I just can't have you accused of murder on the wrong evidence.

    • Agent Carlson: Let's understand this one thing. If you start harassing this woman I'm going to take it upstairs. Columbo: Um, just one minute, uh, Mr. Carlson. It's like this. This is not just a kidnapping. This is a murder now and I kinda figure that's my department. I'll see ya around.

    • Columbo: Did she ask where the body was? Agent Carlson: No. Columbo: I didn't think so. Oh, listen, one more thing, Mr. Carlson. She didn't ask how her husband was killed, did she? Carlson: No. Columbo: That's what I thought.

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    Notes (1)

    • This second pilot, along with the first pilot "Prescription: Murder" are considered separate TV movies, and had not been included in the syndicated and cable packages of Columbo reruns, and are therefore the rarest episodes to be broadcast. In the summer of 1994, ABC aired weekly reruns of the revived series on Thursday nights. When they ran out of episodes to show, ABC ran these two 20 year-old pilots, as well as the then 13 year-old two hour pilot for Mrs. Columbo, as "new" (or at least relatively new) movies.

    Trivia (1)

    • While at the counter in the diner talking to the daughter of the murdered man, Columbo has a new bowl of chili and he has yet to eat of it. Once they move to one of the booths, some of the chili has disappeared and an obvious line of where it used to be can be seen.

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