By Calvin Palmer
A judge in Los Angeles today ruled that the star of Columbo, Peter Falk, should remain in the care of his wife.
Falk, 81, has advanced dementia and his wife of more than 30 years, Shera, will remain in control of his personal care and affairs.
Catherine Falk, 38, the actor’s estranged and adopted daughter, petitioned in December to take over her father’s affairs, citing a contentious relationship with his wife.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Aviva K. Bobb established a conservatorship so that Catherine will be allowed a 30-minute visit with her father every month.
Falk’s condition virtually ensures he will not remember the meetings, his doctor said.
The Emmy-winning actor slipped rapidly into dementia since a series of dental operations in late 2007, Dr. Stephen Read testified today.
Read said it was unclear whether Falk’s condition worsened as a result of anesthesia or some other reaction to the operation.
Read first evaluated Falk in June 2008 before the actor was scheduled to undergo hip surgery. His dementia and apparent Alzheimer’s disease worsened after that procedure, and Read said the actor no longer remembers his signature role in the TV series Columbo.
Catherine’s visits will take place at the home of a friend who lives down the street from Peter and Shera Falk. Shera Falk will not be allowed to attend.
“We’re thrilled with the result,” said Troy Martin, Catherine Falk’s attorney.
Shera Falk’s attorney, Marshal Oldman, also claimed victory, saying the hearing proved that Falk’s wife had provided excellent care and should be allowed to continue that role.
“Essentially, this is a family matter,” Oldman said, noting that Falk was a private man. “It’s important that families can figure out how to get along. It’s a good outcome for everybody.”
Falk won four Emmys for his starring role in Columbo. He also received Academy Award nominations for movies in 1959 and 1960. Movies such as Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire (1987) and The California Dolls (1981) won him critical acclaim.