Richest CelebritiesActors
Net Worth:
$5 Million
Sep 16, 1927 - Jun 23, 2011 (83 years old)
New York City
5 ft 5 in (1.676 m)
Actor, Television producer, Artist, Certified Public Accountant, Visual Artist
United States of America
💰 Compare Peter Falk's Net Worth

What Was Peter Falk's Net Worth?

Peter Falk was an American actor, producer, director, and writer who had a net worth of $5 million at the time of his death in 2011. Peter Falk was best known for his Emmy-winning performance as Lieutenant Columbo on the NBC/ABC crime drama "Columbo" (1968–1978; 1989–2003). Falk also produced the series, wrote the 1993 episode "It's All in the Game," and directed the 1972 episodes "Blueprint for Murder" and "Étude in Black."

Peter had more than 100 acting credits to his name, including the films "Murder Inc." (1960), "Pocketful of Miracles" (1962), "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1963), "Murder by Death" (1976), "The In-Laws" (1979), "The Great Muppet Caper" (1981), "The Princess Bride" (1987), "Made" (2001), "Corky Romano" (2001), and "The Thing About My Folks" (2005) and the television series "The Dick Powell Theatre" (1962–1963), "Ben Casey" (1964), and "The Trials of O'Brien" (1965–1966). He earned Academy Award nominations for "Murder Inc." and "Pocketful of Miracles," and he performed in Broadway productions of "Saint Joan" (1956), "Diary of a Scoundrel" (1956), "The Iceman Cometh" (1956–1957), "The Passion of Josef D." (1964), and "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" (1971–1973). In 2006, Falk published the memoir "Just One More Thing: Stories from My Life." Peter was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2008 and largely faded from the public eye soon thereafter. He passed away in June 2011.

"Columbo" Salary

At the peak of the series in the late 1970s, Peter earned $300,000 per episode, which is the same as earning around $750,000 per episode today after adjusting for inflation.

Early Life

Peter Falk was born Peter Michael Falk on September 16, 1927, in The Bronx, New York. Peter was the son of Michael Falk and Madeline Hochhauser. His father owned a dry goods and clothing store, and his mother was an accountant. Falk grew up in Ossining, and his parents were Jewish. When Peter was 3 years old, he had to have his right eye surgically removed due to a retinoblastoma. Because of this, he spent most of his life wearing an artificial eye. During his youth, Falk played basketball and baseball, and he told "Cigar Aficionado" in 1997, "I remember once in high school the umpire called me out at third base when I was sure I was safe. I got so mad I took out my glass eye, handed it to him and said, 'Try this.' I got such a laugh you wouldn't believe."

Peter made his stage debut in a Camp High Point production of "The Pirates of Penzance" at the age of 12. He attended Ossining High School, where he excelled in sports and was elected senior class president. After graduating in 1945, he enrolled at Hamilton College, but he soon tried to join the armed services. Falk was rejected as a result of his missing eye, but he was accepted by the United States Merchant Marine. He spent over a year with the Merchant Marines, serving as a mess boy and cook, then he briefly returned to college. He wrote in his autobiography, "I didn't stay long. Too itchy. What to do next? I signed up to go to Israel to fight in the war on its attack on Egypt. I wasn't passionate about Israel, I wasn't passionate about Egypt—I just wanted more excitement … I got assigned a ship and departure date but the war was over before the ship ever sailed." Peter earned a bachelor's degree in political science and literature from The New School for Social Research in 1951 and a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse University's Maxwell School in 1953.

Early Career

While working as a management analyst with Hartford's Connecticut State Budget Bureau, Falk joined the local theater group the Mark Twain Masquers. He appeared in plays such as "The Crucible" and "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial" and studied acting with Eva Le Gallienne at the White Barn Theatre. Around this time, Peter quit his job, and after a few months with the Le Gallienne group, Eva wrote him a letter of recommendation to give to an agent at New York's William Morris Agency.

In 1956, he moved to Greenwich Village and soon began appearing in Broadway productions. Falk made his TV debut in a 1957 episode of "Robert Montgomery Presents," and his first film was 1958's "Wind Across the Everglades." He then appeared in the films "The Bloody Brood" (1959), "Pretty Boy Floyd" (1960), "Murder Inc." (1960), "Pocketful of Miracles" (1961), "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1963), "Attack and Retreat" (1964), "The Great Race" (1965), "Too Many Thieves" (1967), and "Machine Gun McCain" (1969) and guest-starred on "Naked City" (1958; 1960; 1961), "Have Gun – Will Travel" (1960), "The Untouchables" (1960; 1961), "The Twilight Zone" (1961), "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (1961), "Dr. Kildare" (1963), "Wagon Train" (1963), and "Ben Casey" (1964). From 1965 to 1966, he played Daniel O'Brien on the CBS series "The Trials of O'Brien."


In 1968, Peter landed the role that would change his life: Lieutenant Columbo on the crime drama "Columbo." The series aired on NBC until 1978 and from 1989 to 2003 on CBS, airing 69 episodes over 10 seasons all total and earning Falk four Primetime Emmys.

Peter Falk

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Other Work

In the '70s, Peter appeared in films such as "Operation Snafu" (1970), "A Woman Under the Influence" (1974), "Murder by Death" (1976), "Mikey and Nicky" (1976), "The Cheap Detective" (1978), and "The In-Laws" (1979), followed by "The Great Muppet Caper" (1981), "Big Trouble" (1986), "Wings of Desire" (1987), "Happy New Year" (1987), "The Princess Bride" (1987), and "Cookie" (1989) in the '80s. He then guest-starred on "The Larry Sanders Show" (1992) and starred in the TV movies "The Sunshine Boys" (1996), "Pronto" (1997), "A Storm in Summer" (2000), "The Lost World" (2001), "A Town Without Christmas" (2001), "Finding John Christmas" (2003), "Wilder Days" (2003), and "When Angels Come to Town" (2004). Falk appeared in the films "In the Spirit" (1990), "The Player" (1992), "Roommates" (1995), "Money Kings" (1998), "Enemies of Laughter" (2000), "Made" (2001), "Corky Romano" (2001), "Three Days of Rain" (2002), "Undisputed" (2002), "Checking Out" (2005), "The Thing About My Folks" (2005), "Three Days to Vegas" (2007), and "Next" (2007), and he voiced Don Ira Feinberg in 2004's "Shark Tale." Peter's final film was 2009's "American Cowslip."

Personal Life

Peter met Alyce Mayo while they were both attending Syracuse University, and they married on April 17, 1960. They adopted two daughters, Jackie and Catherine, and Catherine would grow up to become a private investigator.

Peter and Alyce divorced in 1976, and Falk married actress Shera Danese on December 7, 1977. Shera guest-starred in six episodes of "Columbo" between 1976 and 1997. Though Peter was best known for acting, he was also an artist, and in October 2006, the Butler Institute of American Art hosted an exhibition of his drawings. Falk studied at the Art Students League of New York. Peter was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2008, and at a 2009 conservatorship trial, Dr. Stephen Read testified that Falk had "slipped rapidly into dementia since a series of dental operations in late 2007." Shera was appointed as Peter's conservator.


Peter passed away at his Beverly Hills home on June 23, 2011, at the age of 83. His primary cause of death was pneumonia, and the underlying/secondary cause was complications of Alzheimer's disease. Falk was laid to rest at L.A.'s Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, and his tombstone reads "I'm not here, I'm home with Shera."

Peter's daughter Catherine alleged that Shera stopped letting some of Peter's family members visit him and didn't inform them of major changes regarding his health. According to the Catherine Falk Organization website, Catherine and her sister, Jackie, "learned of the death of their father from media reports and their attorney. Mrs. Falk buried Mr. Falk without notifying his daughters."

Catherine encouraged the passage of 2015 legislation known as "Peter Falk's Law," which was passed in New York to provide "specific guidelines that guardians/conservators for an incapacitated person must comply with relevant to visitation rights and notice of end of life." Since then, more than 15 other states have adopted similar laws.


Years before being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, Peter Falk established a number of trusts to handle his estate upon his death. He left the bulk of his state to his widow Shera.

Real Estate

In 2000 Peter and Shera paid $1.6 million for a home in Malibu. In 2019 Shera sold this home for $3.18 million.

At the time of his death, Peter and Shera lived in a Beverly Hills mansion. Shera continues to live in this home, which has an estimated value of $12-14 million.

Awards and Nominations

Falk earned two Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, for "Murder, Inc." (1961) and "Pocketful of Miracles" (1962). He received 12 Primetime Emmy nominations, winning Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for "The Dick Powell Theatre" (1962) and Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series (1972), Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series (1975), Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (1976 and 1990) for "Columbo." Peter earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Special for "A Storm in Summer" in 2001, and out of 10 Golden Globe nominations, he won Best TV Actor – Drama for "Columbo" in 1973. "Columbo" also earned Falk two Bambi Awards for TV Series International (1976 and 1993), two TP de Oro (Spain) awards for Best Foreign Actor (1975 and 1978), a TV Land Award nomination for Favorite "Casual Friday" Cop (2005), and two People's Choice Award nominations for Favorite Male TV Performer (1990 and 1991). He was inducted into the Online Film & Television Association TV Hall of Fame in the Actors and Actresses category in 2006, and Columbo was inducted in the Character category in 2021. Peter received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Florida Film Festival (2005), Method Fest (2003), and Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (2000), and he was named the Golden Apple Awards' Male Star of the Year in 1972 and the Hasty Pudding Theatricals' Man of the Year in 1974. In 2004, he won a Golden Plate at the David di Donatello Awards, and in 2013, he posthumously received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Peter Falk Career Earnings

  • Columbo: Murder by the Book (#1.1)
    $350 Thousand/episode
  • Wind Across the Everglades
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