Does Columbo’s Wife Exist?

Columbo is one of the greatest characters to grace the small screen and is definitely among the top five detectives of all time. His soft personality combined with his loquacious attitude mixed with his attention to detail makes him a standout among other, harsher detectives. He lulls you in a sleepy sense of security and then nabs you with your guard down. Through his bumbling appearance, absent minded persona and his cheap-looking cigars, Columbo can trick the murderer into revealing details and lies that would otherwise be unnoticed.

One of the ways he does this is through his constant conversations about his adored wife, known simply as Mrs. Columbo. Columbo finds someway to bring up his wife to the killer when they are discussing about the victim, the murderer, or anything in general. This usually agitates the murderer and can then lead them to tripping on their own lies.

But let me ask you this, does Mrs. Columbo actually exist?

The answer seems easy to answer at first but once you think about it, you really have to question about her supposed existence. Just like last week’s article on the conundrum we faced towards the Batman-villain Poison Ivy and her diet, there’s more to this than it seems.

The thing is, we have never witnessed Mrs. Columbo before. We never see or hear her and yet she is one of the few reoccurring characters on the show due to her sheer presence brought by Columbo’s detailed descriptions of her life and personality. And it’s because of these intricate details that many have speculated that Columbo has made her up. It’s almost too coincidental that Mrs. Columbo happened to be a fan of Chef Paris or Maestro Benedict for instance. Columbo always has a right scenario for her to relate to the murderer’s life.

Unfortunately, to answer this riddle, we would have to dive into Columbo’s personal life, which is quite difficult given the show’s reluctance to allow us to accomplish that. It’s pretty funny actually. Many modern detective shows give us sooooo much information on the detective’s private life. They’re like an open book to us.

As such, it is these precious few moments of Columbo at his relaxed state that we must rely on. Particularly, before he meets the murderer and builds the slippery slope that will lead them to their demise.

One moment that we see this is in “A Stitch in Crime,” where Columbo briefly talks about his wife to a police officer before examining the body. Now, I find it hard to believe that Columbo would continue the Mrs. Columbo façade to a fellow officer. However, you could argue that he’s constantly on guard, so to speak, and he wants to be prepared when even a police officer murders somebody (which actually did happen in one of his episodes). Therefore, he can continue his shtick relentlessly without missing a beat.

A little bit more proof comes in the “Troubled Waters” episode where we see Columbo talking to his wife via a telephone. This is where we are getting into crazy territory if we were to assume that Columbo’s so devoted to having a non-existent wife that he keeps up this elaborate lie by talking to her on a telephone and lying to everyone on board that his wife won the both of them a pair of tickets to go on a cruise.

Thankfully, in that same episode, other characters have admitted they had seen his wife several times during the course of the episode. Granted, this is not total hard proof but I’m willing to be convinced by the evidence given in the examples I have mentioned and other that I haven’t. Columbo has a wife.

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11 thoughts on “Does Columbo’s Wife Exist?

  1. jflower

    At the end of “A Friend in Deed” Columbo tricks the Deputy Commissioner into planting evidence in his own apartment. He talks about the apartment as if he lives there alone, and there is no sign of a women living there as well.

    Reply
  2. Ralph

    Although not in the series, Peter Falk shows up in character at a Dean Martin roast for Frank Sinatra. I encourage every one to check it out. During the roast Culombo asks Sinatra for an autograph, please make it out to Lt. Colombo, better yet Lt. Colombo and Mrs. Colombo, no Mrs. Colombo and the Liutenant, just make it out to Rose.
    So Mrs. Columba does exist and her first name is Rose…who would lie to Sinatra.

    Reply
  3. cfan

    What about the episode with the movie star who lived on the set? Columbo called his wife and didn’t she talk to the movie star?

    Reply
    1. john collins

      That was “Requiem for a Falling Star” He did call his wife but she was out and the movie star only talked to his brother in law George.

      Reply
    2. john

      That episode was Requiem for a falling star. He called his wife to have the movie star say hi. The brother in law George answers and says she is not home

      Reply
  4. Thomas Purtzer

    I would really love to meet Mrs. Columbo!! I believe she exists and must be quite a character to put up with how Columbo dresses. I lived in the LA area for a decade and cannot imagine wearing a rain coat all the time. Remember that Mrs. Columbo bought him a new coat but it looked horrid and was too small! He got rid of it. I used to have an old corduroy coat that my wife detested and eventually got rid of it. So I would love to meet Mrs. Columbo and ask her what she thinks of her husband’s strange taste in clothing, Tom Purtzer

    Reply
  5. Charlie M.

    I just watched the troubled waters episode. At the very end, one of the ships crew members, the guy that escorted the murderer to the police boat(also plays the crazy British colonel from Hogans Heroes) is trying to find Columbo because his wife is also trying to find him while Columbo himself is trying to find her. She had just boarded a boat leaving for the Mexican shore, and Columbo and the crazy colonel have a joke about him calling it a ship instead of a boat, referring to a joke earlier in the episode, and that’s the end. Proof!, that Mrs. Columbo does exist.

    Reply
  6. Kelly Penn

    Ah, and there there was the TV mystery series actually titled “Mrs. Columbo” starring Kate Mulgrew as the title character. Anybody else remember this?

    Reply
  7. aHEMagain

    I suspect that Columbo’s wife didn’t exist. Consider the way police officers & other detectives treat him with kid gloves, very deferential, almost like he’s fragile.
    What if Columbo was brilliant, with an outstanding track record, and one quirk. He’s nuts. All of the cops know it, and play along because he’s brilliant. Of course a police detective with an imaginary friend for a wife wouldn’t fly today, but it was a different time.
    The TV series Monk played with this as well. Give a watch to a couple of episodes and see what you think.
    John Collins (above) brought up the other possibilty indirectly. There’s no Mrs. Columbo, there’s another “Mr. Columbo”. George, the “brother-in-law” IS Mrs. Columbo. Perhaps too contemporary, but I’ve known people in the 70’s who did the exact same thing, before “coming out” became common.
    Anyway, it’s an intriguing puzzle, likely unsolvable.

    Reply

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