I’ve been enjoying watching Peter Falk as Columbo on Netflix, and am transfixed by the time travel elements of this now decades-old series. The population of Los Angeles has nearly doubled since the time of filming, and there’s something quaint, and poignant, about seeing a handful of cars easily traverse the nearly empty stretches of the Pacific Coast Highway or Wilshire Boulevard presented in the show, that are today impossibly clogged with traffic.
Classic film stars like Myrna Loy and Vincent Price play lead roles in the Columbo series, as does Leslie Nielsen in his pre-‘Naked Gun’ days. The homes are stylishly decorated with shag carpets and orange wallpaper, and the men all wear sideburns and extra wide jacket lapels.
Since the Columbo murderers are nearly always snobbish millionaires, a remarkable number of classic Los Angeles mansions appear in the show. The extant Beverly House owned by William Randolph Hearst (1011 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills), that portrayed the ‘horse-head’ house in The Godfather, appears in ‘Death Lends a Hand’ (see left).
The former home of silent film screenwriter Frances Marion and her husband Fred Thomson, known as ‘The Enchanted Hill,’ appears prominently both inside and out in the episode ‘Identity Crisis,’ and also in ‘Fade to Murder.’ Tragically, Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen bought the estate and tore it down in 1997, where it remains an empty site to this day. You can read all about The Enchanted Hill at Steve Vaught’s wonderful Paradise Leased blog HERE.
The episode ‘A Case of Immunity’ is a special treat for Harold Lloyd fans, as it was filmed extensively, inside and out, at Lloyd’s ‘Greenacres’ mansion (1740 Green Acres Place Beverly Hills),in 1975, a few years after Lloyd’s death. Here below are a number of frame grabs of the Lloyd estate from this episode. At the time the double room kitchen had the original stoves and giant iceboxes.
During ‘A Friend in Deed’ Columbo crosses Rodeo Drive to visit the Van Cleef and Arpels jewelry store (at top) – it stands today at the same location as in 1974.