Peter Falk made stage debut at camp

Legendary actor Peter “Columbo” Falk had his humble theatrical beginnings on a summer camp stage, according to multiple obits written in the wake of the 83-year-old actor’s death Thursday.

Falk, who will forever be remembered for his portrayal of TV detective Lt. Columbo, made his stage debut at age 12 in a summer camp production of Pirates of Penzance.

Falk is listed among the notable alumni of Camp Greylock in Massachusetts (a camp known more recently as the place Amazing Race’s Zev and Justin first met), but it’s not clear if that was the camp where he first performed or whether or not he had started smoking cigars yet when he did. UPDATE: Falk’s stage debut was at Camp High Point in upstate New York.

To my knowledge, Falk never went to summer camp on the big or small screen, but I’m thankful that he caught an acting bug at camp that eventually led to roles like his memorable portrayal of himself as a fallen angel in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire. Oh, and that Columbo guy too.


Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at and I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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