Much in the past two days has been written about the late Peter Falk’s television career, particularly as the detective “Columbo,” however, overlooked is Peter’s New York City years as a Tony winning actor. Here from Peter’s official bio is his “New York experience.”
Peter Michael Falk was born in New York City on September 16, 1927 and raised in Ossining, New York. When he was twelve years old he made his first stage appearance in a production of The Pirates of Penzance at Camp High Point in upstate New York.
After graduating from Ossining High School, where he was a star athlete and president of his class, Falk served as a cook in the Merchant Marine, then studied at Hamilton Collegein Clinton, New York, where he completed his work for a B.A. degree in political science at the New Schoo lfor Social Research in 1951. He earned a Masters degree in public administration at Syracuse University in 1953.
After applying unsuccessfully for a job with the Central Intelligence Agency, he became a management analyst with the Connecticut State Budget Bureau, in Hartford. In his spare time he acted with the Mark Twain Maskers in Hartford and studied at the White Barn Theatre in Westport, and for the first time began to consider the possibility of becoming a professional actor. In 1956 at the age of 29 he left his job with the Budget Bureau, moved to Greenwich Village in New York, and declared himself an actor.
He made his professional debut Off Broadway in Moliere’s Don Juan at the Fourth Street Theatre on January 3, 1956, and the following season he was in the Circle in the Square’s highly successful revival of The Iceman Cometh with Jason Robards. For the next three years Falk was never out of work, bouncing from one Off-Broadway theatre to another.
After several years acting in films Falk returned to Broadway In 1971 for Neil Simon’s play, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, directed by Mike Nichols, for which he received a Tony Award. He also toured in David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross with Joe Mantegna in 1986.
Falk returned to the stage in spring 1998 to star in Arthur Miller’s new play Mr. Peter’s Connections at the Signature Theatre in New York, which sold out for the entire run within two weeks of announcement. In spring of 2000 Falk starred on the Los Angeles stage, in a sold-out performance opposite Jason Alexander in the suspenseful, dramatic, and often comedic play Defiled at the Geffen Playhouse.