The Truth About Columbo's Famous Raincoat

On the crime drama Columbo, the character is almost inseparable from his raincoat. In fact, we think of the raincoat as part of Columbo himself. It almost seems to lend the detective a sort of mystical power. When he’s forced to replace it in one of the episodes, he finds it nearly impossible to think. Without that coat, he’s like Samson with a bad haircut. What you might not know is that Peter Falk actually bought the raincoat himself in New York City around the time he was cast for the part. It was 1966 and he was walking down 57th Street when it began to rain. He walked into a shop, bought the raincoat, and went on his way. Falk wore the same raincoat throughout the NBC run of Columbo, but there were two or three “stand-in” coats. The series ended its NBC run in 1978, and Peter Falk lovingly stored the famous raincoat in the closet of his Beverly Hills home. When the show as revived by ABC in 1989, a new coat was purchased and expert tailors spent hours staining it with tea and repeatedly running over it with a car in the lot at Universal in order to give it the “old raincoat” look. Peter Falk died in 2011 and much of the Columbo memorabilia was auctioned off. The original raincoat, however, was not part of the collection.