Jun 28, 2011
The Time I Saw Peter Falk in Person
When the news broke of Peter Falk’s passing, I remembered that I’d seen him in person many years ago.
I was thirteen years old and I was with my family in Hollywood. We were on a big California vacation. I was about a year into my classic Hollywood obsession and was very impressed by the footprints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
We somehow came upon the premiere of the Dan Akroyd-starring version of Dragnet one night. There was a huge crowd gathered around the red carpet, and the stars were starting to leave the building. I remember very little about who I saw, except for some of the cast of the sitcom Head of the Class. (I couldn’t believe how big their heads were. Now I think that might be a TV star thing.)
The only other star I remember seeing is Peter Falk. Everyone else had glided out of that theater with heads held up straight and big gleaming grins. Falk didn’t glide, he ambled. He had a sort of left-to-right gait that fit nicely with his friendly grin.
My mom said something about how rumpled he looked, and I remember being annoyed by that. He struck me as so likeable that I wanted to defend him. I thought “comfortable” was a better term. Falk looked at ease in his own skin. I didn’t know at the time that he had a glass eye, but I noticed the droop on that side. It made him look like he was constantly winking, which added to his appeal.
Of all the things from that night that I can no longer remember, I haven't forgotten one moment of his walk down the red carpet. His warm, friendly demeanor made me love him instantly, and while I couldn’t put it into words at the time, I began to understand the sort of charisma that made an actor a star.