Season 5 Episode 1

Forgotten Lady

Aired Unknown Sep 14, 1975 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
52 votes

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Episode Summary

Forgotten Lady
An aging song-and-dance star is Lt. Columbo's quarry in the fifth season opener. The disheveled detective suspects the actress of killing her wealthy husband to finance her dream, a comeback on Broadway.

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  • Spoilers

    Even though Janet Leigh plays perhaps the most sympathetic killer of any Columbo mystery (due to her health in story) the guest performance of John Payne is outstanding as her former song and dance movie partner. Peter Falk as always is excellent as Lt. Columbo and veterans Maurice Evans and Sam Jaffe turn in thier trademark performances as men of fine culture.

    Scripted with great ingenuity and fluency, this Columbo adventure is far from a straightforward, "open and shut" case; one can almost sense a sombreness developing as Columbo gets near to identifying the killer when he is invited to the murderess's house, with her former dance partner, to watch an old movie of hers.

    The finale contains some of the most intelligently and touchingly conceived sequences in the entire series - the twist is effective, surprising and poignant.moreless
Peter Falk

Peter Falk

Lieutenant Columbo (no first name)

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • For most of this episode, Maurice Evans, playing the butler, speaks in his usual refined voice. However, more than halfway through, without explanation, he begins speaking in a noticeably different, vaguely Cockney accent.

    • We see Dr.Willis sitting up in bed, as Raymond knocks on the door prior to bringing in the tray with the milk and sleeping pill. The tray is already sitting on the bedside table, with a full glass of milk and the bowl for the sleeping pill.

    • When Grace comes into her husband's room, she sets her brandy glass on the bedside table--beside a tray with her husband's hot milk. The camera shifts to an overhead view, and the brandy glass is on the tray. When it shifts again, the glass is beside the tray again.

    • When we see Dog in the car, having eaten some ice cream, the side of his face is coated with ice cream, then it's clean, and then it's coated again (although not so thickly).

    • The movie Grace Wheeler watches is a real movie Janet Leigh made for Universal in 1953 called Walking My Baby Back Home. It co-starred Donald O'Connor and Buddy Hackett.

    • When Johny Carson says goodnight, he says have a good weekend (meaning it is Frday). Yet the next day it is mentioned that it is Friday(n for her voice lesson).

    • *spoiler*

      Columbo's case rests on the fact that Miss Wheeler can't explain what she did during the 15 minutes extra running time after the film broke. However neither he nor Mr Diamond (who's desperate to find an excuse for her) suggest the possibility that she simply fell asleep before the film broke, waking up 15 minutes later.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Columbo: From my experience, ma'am, I've discovered that people don't usually forget to do that which they usually do.

    • Sgt. Leftkowitz: You know, Lieutenant, uh, I'm in the homicide office at least, uh, once a week. I don't think I've ever seen you there.

      Columbo: Well, I don't get down there too much. None of the murders take place there you know.

    • Columbo: I wonder if you could help me out with this thing here. Uh, my wife is a terrific dancer and a very good singer but I got two left feet and when it comes to dancing in public, you know, I get self-conscious so, and so she always has to sit it out. Is there something, uh, what can you do for a problem like that?

      Ned Diamond: Become a critic.

  • NOTES (2)


    • Army Archerd: We're outside the Regal Theatre where Song and Dance, that giant musical extravaganza made up of over two dozen film clips from past musical greats had its premiere performance here tonight...

      This film concept was obviously inspired by the popular That's Entertainment which had come out the year before this episode aired. It may even have been the inspiration for the story.