Forgotten Lady – Columbo, season 5, with Peter Falk, Janet Leigh, Maurice Evans, John Payne
As usual, in Forgotten Lady, Lt. Columbo is tasked with solving a murder. The audience sees how the murder was done, and Columbo has to solved a locked door mystery. But there’s more going on …. And the title has a double meaning.
In short, Forgotten Lady is one the most memorable — and heart breaking — of all of the Columbo murder mysteries. It’s frankly hard to review, without giving away the central, underlying problem.
- It’s clear throughout that Mrs. Willis is having memory issues. She can’t remember Columbo’s name. She’s having trouble learning the new dance routine. She can’t remember the name of her new dance partner. And, she can’t remember critical details of the night of her husband’s death.
- Everyone else thinks it’s a clearcut case of suicide. As the coroner notes, the dead man’s finger was on the trigger when the bullet entered his brain. But, a few little things lead Columbo to think differently.
Columbo: It’s not gonna take much to break your story.Forgotten Lady
Ned Diamond: It might take a couple of months.
Columbo: Yes …. Yes, it might.
- Peter Falk (The Great Race) … Columbo. The rumpled, eagle-eyed detective, who doesn’t miss anything. A stickler for details, he solves the mystery. But, at the conclusion, proves that he has compassion, as well as a determination for justice to be done.
- Janet Leigh (Houdini, Bye Bye Birdie) … Grace Wheeler Willis. The Forgotten Lady of the title. A formerly great actress and dancer, who wants to stage a comeback. But her husband refuses to fund the $500,000 the new show would cost. But after his death, she proceeds. Brilliantly acted by the great Janet Leigh.
- Maurice Evans (Planet of the Apes, Bewitched) … Raymond, the butler. A faithful servant, who quickly gets tired of Columbo’s interruptions.
- Sam Jaffe (The Day the Earth Stood Still) … Dr. Henry Willis. The murder victim, a retired physician. And, a loving husband. Who knows something about his wife’s condition that he takes tot he grave.
- John Payne (Week-End in Havana) … Ned Diamond. Diamond and Wheeler were once one of the great musical teams. He remains a steadfast friend … And in love with Grace. The conclusion shows just how far he’s willing to go for her.
- Linda Gaye Scott (Westworld) … Alma. Wife of Raymond, a faithful servant to Grace and Henry.
- Robert F. Simon (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) … Dr. Westrum. The family physician, who reveals that there was nothing medical that would have driven Henry to suicide. And, how Henry was looking forward to his around the world trip with Grace.
- Francine York (Cracking Up) … Sgt. Leftkowitz. The officer who realizes that Columbo hasn’t done his gun range test. He’s supposed to do it every six months …. He’s 10 years overdue! A funny subplot.