Link, William William Link, a prolific screenwriter who produced masterpieces of American television such as "Columbo" and "Murder, She Wrote" in a nearly 40-year creative relationship with a junior high school classmate, died on December 27 in Los Angeles. He was 79.
Link's career as a screenwriter began in the early 1950s when he wrote for the popular radio series "The Shadow." In 1955, he moved to television where he became one of the leading story editors on the acclaimed anthology series "The Twilight Zone."
In addition to "Columbo," which ran from 1971 to 1999, Link wrote or co-wrote the films "Runaway Bride" (1995), "Disclosure: The Hidden Truth About Death" (1998), and "A Walk in the Park" (1999).
He also published three books of fiction: "The Paper Menagerie" (1969), "The Glass Menagerie" (1973), and "The Leaf Menagerie" (1979).
William Link was born on January 4, 1927 in New York City, New York. His father was a lawyer who worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). His mother was a writer who had once been married to author William Sydney Porter (aka O'Henry), whom she later divorced.
Columbo, a television character he portrayed for more than 30 years, died on June 23 at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif., according to a family statement. He was 83 years old and had Alzheimer's disease.
Columbo was created by Peter Falk who played him. The show ran from 1968 to 1996 with a series finale episode in 1997. During its run, Columbo solved hundreds of cases involving people from all over the world. He always used his keen observational skills along with an open mind and a sense of humor to solve each crime.
Columbo began his career as a San Francisco Police Department detective. In 1978, when police departments were not allowed to produce their own programming, Columbo became a TV star by himself. After three more seasons, the show was canceled but continued as a movie until 2004. There have been nine movies and a television special featuring Columbo. His appearance rate on television during this time was less than most other detectives because viewers knew there would always be another case next week. However, this didn't take away from his popularity since those episodes included commercials between scenes.
After the cancellation of the original series, Columbo remained on screen in various made-for-TV films produced by Paramount Pictures.
Columbo was conceived by Richard Levinson and William Link, who stated that the character was inspired in part by the Crime and Punishment figure, Porfiry Petrovich, as well as G. K. Chesterton's modest cleric-detective, Father Brown. The two writers had been friends since college and had worked together on several previous projects before launching their own firm.
They originally wanted to call the character Lieutenant Columbo but were told this was copyrighted by another company. So they renamed him and started writing episodes about him. They wrote three episodes before deciding to write more serious stories instead. They did continue to write occasional episodes featuring Lt. Columbo up until their death in an airplane crash in 1975.
Although not confirmed by any source, it is widely believed that Leonard Nimoy was one of many actors who have played Columbo on screen. He was first mentioned in an article in TV Guide dated February 27th, 1976 which said that he had been hired to play the role on television. In addition, he has appeared in several commercials for the American television network NBC during this time period.
It is also known that Leonard Nimoy was offered the role of Spock in Star Trek when it was first being developed. However, he turned it down because he didn't want to be typecast. He later regretted this decision as it made him very popular and led to other similar roles coming his way.
Screenwriter. The writer of a play or film who creates the story line and drafts the script.
Sometimes called director-screenwriter. This person is also responsible for directing the film. They can be another person's choice, but usually they are not; instead, the director brings to the project their own vision of how it should be done. There are many ways to write a screenplay, but most writers do one of two things: either they write in word processors using standard grammatical rules, or they plot everything out on paper first then write their ideas down later. Either way, scripting is an important part of making movies.
There are several types of screenwriters including author-screenwriter, staff writers, opinion leaders, and focus group writers. An author-screenwriter is someone who has never directed anything before but wants to try their hand at it. They may have written some scripts in school but never acted them out. Someone who works with a group of other people and shares responsibility for creating the story lines for each episode of a television series is a staff writer. Opinion leaders are those who have success with certain techniques or tools for writing scripts and then teach these methods to others.
Alex Bradey, an arrogant wunderkind director, murders a boyhood friend, Leonard Fisher, who threatens to reveal his role in the negligent death of Leonard's sister, Jenny, years before Bradey rose to fame and fortune. Please refer to Columbo (1971-2003). Try it one more. I'm sorry, did someone say "try one more time"?
Bradey hires Columbo to find out what really happened to Jenny, but doesn't know that the detective will use this opportunity to get close to him. During the investigation, Columbo discovers that there are several other people who want Leonard dead including Jenny's father, a wealthy business man named Harry Fisher.
In the end, Bradey realizes that he is guilty of murder and decides to turn himself in. However, just before he is about to be arrested, he commits suicide.
Have a good day!
Sources: Braxton Craven, writing under the pen name Charlie Vernon, was the first to write about this murder story. It initially published in two sections in the January and February 1851 issues of North Carolina's Evergreen newspaper. It was reissued numerous times until being discontinued in 1962.
Vernon's version of events was based on interviews he conducted with people living in and around Greensboro at the time of the murder. His book was very popular and went through several editions. A film adaptation was released in 2000 where Sam Elliott played Vernon and Renee Zellweger played Craven's wife.
In 1960, William Crawford Gantt published his version of events titled The Life of Charlie Vernon. In it, he claimed that he had discovered evidence that proved Vernon was not guilty by reason of insanity. However, no such evidence has ever been made public. Gantt also claimed that Craven had confessed to him years after the fact. However, Gantt failed to mention that he had a criminal record himself and was using fake names to avoid imprisonment. He was later killed by a car while walking home from work one night in 1961.
In 1969, John E. Lee published his version of events titled The Life of Omie Wise. Like Gantt's book, it included new information about the crime and its aftermath.
Patrick McGoohan played a Columbo killer four times more than any other actor. Jack Cassidy and Robert Culp both played serial murderers three times. William Shatner and George Hamilton both played serial killers. James Stewart, Paul Newman, Charlie Chaplin, Spencer Tracy, and John Wayne all played characters in serial-killer films.
Culp first appeared in the role of "Columbo's friend" in nine episodes that aired from March 3, 1973, to August 16, 1973. He returned for two more appearances in 1974. The character was not intended to be recurring, but due to popular demand, they brought him back for another season in 1975. After one more appearance in 1976, Culp left the show to pursue other projects. He later said that he regretted leaving before the end of his contract and would have liked to have finished out the second season had it been possible to do so.
In total, Culp appeared in 69 episodes as Columbo's friend. Patrick McGoohan died in 2009 after appearing in eight episodes as Columbo's father over seven years.
So, Culp and McGoohan were both very famous actors who happened to play the same character on the same show.