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This is a list of episodes from the fifth season of Columbo.

Columbo (season 5)
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes6
Original networkNBC
Original releaseSeptember 14, 1975 (1975-09-14) –
May 2, 1976 (1976-05-02)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 4
Next →
Season 6
List of Columbo episodes


Broadcast historyEdit

The season originally aired Sundays at 9:00-10:30 pm (EST) as part of The NBC Sunday Mystery Movie.

DVD releaseEdit

The DVD was released by Universal Studios Home Entertainment.


No. in
No. in
Title Directed by Written by Murderer played by Victim(s) played by Original air date Runtime
321"Forgotten Lady"Harvey HartWilliam DriskillJanet LeighSam JaffeSeptember 14, 1975 (1975-09-14)100 minutes

When elderly physician Henry Willis (Sam Jaffe) refuses to finance a return to the spotlight for his wife, aging former movie star Grace Wheeler (Janet Leigh), she kills him in his sleep, passing it off as a suicide. Their elderly butler (Maurice Evans) believes Grace was in a private screening room the entire time, watching one of her classic films.

Final clue/twist: Due to a discrepancy between the actual runtime of the movie and the length of time Grace Wheeler watched it in real time, Columbo believes there was a long enough time gap (caused by a ripping of the film) for Grace to commit the murder.

This is one of the only two episodes in which the perpetrator is not arrested (the other being, "It's All In The Game"), as Ned Diamond (John Payne), Wheeler's longtime song and dance partner who has always loved Grace, falsely confesses to save her after Columbo informs him she is suffering from a degenerative brain disease (the primary reason her husband refused to finance her return) and likely no longer even remembers the murder. Nonetheless, Columbo is prepared to arrest her. Diamond makes his false confession to Grace who briefly becomes hysterical. Columbo arrests Diamond, both realizing that by the time he is cleared, Grace will have died. Columbo's normal instincts thwarted, he makes several half turns – as though to enter the screening room – where Grace, lost in the past, is watching the film, having already forgotten Diamond's confession. Columbo then leaves the mansion, following Diamond.

The episode features excerpts from the 1953 musical comedy Walking My Baby Back Home, which starred Leigh. It is Grace's favorite film, the one playing when she was committing the crime and the one she is watching, mesmerized, at the end of the episode.

An amusing concurrent side-story concerns Columbo's penchant for not carrying his firearm and his decade-long lapse in going to the range for shooting proficiency. He has been evading Sgt. Leftkowitz (Francine York) whose computer records show the lapses. Finally, while Columbo is eating an ice cream cone with his dog, an Internal Affairs officer tells him he has 24 hours to appear at the range or his badge will be pulled. (Columbo lends his badge to a crony whom he asks to go to the range in his place, claiming he cannot pass the shooting proficiency test.)
332"A Case of Immunity"Ted PostStory by : James Menzies
Teleplay by : Lou Shaw
Hector Elizondo and Sal MineoAndré Lawrence and Sal MineoOctober 12, 1975 (1975-10-12)70 minutes

Hassan Salah (Héctor Elizondo), chief diplomat of the Legation of Suari, an Arab nation with a new young king, has a scheme for shifting power within his government. He enlists Rachman Habib (Sal Mineo), a naïve idealist in the Legation, to help him stage the murder of a security officer, then plants evidence to make it look like the work of radicals. Salah pins the murder on the now-absent Habib, who, as part of the plan, has gone into hiding. Salah later kills Habib as well. Columbo quickly unravels the truth, but finds himself stymied by Salah's diplomatic immunity. Columbo then meets the new king, who is on a diplomatic visit to the United States, and impresses the young monarch with his theories about the case.

Final clue/twist: Columbo gets Salah (still under diplomatic immunity) to confess to the murder with his monarch in the next room listening. To stay in the U.S. rather than face Suarian justice, Salah waives his immunity from prosecution.

The show proved somewhat controversial, garnering bad press for its storyline and character development, and Falk himself disavowed it.
343"Identity Crisis"Patrick McGoohanWilliam DriskillPatrick McGoohanLeslie NielsenNovember 2, 1975 (1975-11-02)95 minutes

A CIA operative code-named "Geronimo" (Leslie Nielsen) recognizes the man he was sent to cut a deal with, speech-writing consultant Nelson Brenner (Patrick McGoohan, who also directed), as a CIA double agent from the past, forcing Brenner to kill Geronimo before Brenner's true identity is exposed. Columbo finds himself blocked at every turn by a man accustomed to keeping secrets, and even by a visit from the Director of the Agency (David White).

Final clue/twist: Brenner's alibi (a taped speech for a client) becomes irrelevant when Columbo can prove that some statements Brenner made in it were based on news that was broadcast for the first time hours after the recording was allegedly made.

The episode features another French car, the Citroën SM. An inside joke is that the Director's name is Philip Corrigan (aka Secret Agent X-9). In a nod to McGoohan's role on The Prisoner, his character repeatedly uses the phrase "Be seeing you" in the episode.[1]
354"A Matter of Honor"Ted PostBrad RadnitzRicardo MontalbanRobert CarricartFebruary 1, 1976 (1976-02-01)70 minutes

Retired and renowned matador Luis Montoya (Ricardo Montalban) is a Mexican national hero. His trusted bookkeeper, Hector Rangel (Robert Carricart)'s son Curro is also a bullfighter. When Curro (A Martinez) is gored in the bullring, Montoya freezes up in fear and does not challenge the bull. He later decides to kill Hector, who knows what happened. Montoya lures Hector to the ring, where he shoots him with a tranquilizer gun, and unleashes the bull on the prone man. The result is that it appears Hector tried to take revenge on the bull that gored his son. Columbo, who just happens to be in Tijuana for the weekend, is recognized by a suspicious local chief of police (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.), who enlists Columbo's help.

Final clue/twist: Due to the condition of the red flag (used to attract the bull), Columbo can deduce the time frame of the murder - a time frame for which Montoya has no alibi. Curro lures Montoya to the ring and releases the bull on the unsuspecting older man, who again freezes up, this time in front of witnesses.
365"Now You See Him..."Harvey HartMichael SloanJack CassidyNehemiah PersoffFebruary 29, 1976 (1976-02-29)85 minutes

The Great Santini (Jack Cassidy) is a magician extraordinaire at a cabaret, but he is being blackmailed by his insatiably greedy employer, impresario Jesse Jerome (played by Nehemiah Persoff), who has learned that Santini is Stefan Mueller, a former Nazi SS prison guard. Mueller tires of the arrangement and kills his blackmailer in the middle of his famed water tank escape act, giving himself what he believes to be an airtight alibi. He sneaks out of a room where he hides during the act, makes his way dressed as a waiter through the cabaret's kitchen and up to the boss's office, shoots him, then returns to his act with nobody noticing. Robert Loggia plays Harry Blandford, the club's maître d' and less than enthusiastic business partner of the murder victim, whose personality was such that another character says of him [Jesse Jerome], "To know him was to detest him."

Final clue/twist: Santini is undone by the used carbon ribbon on an IBM Selectric typewriter. Because the carbon ribbon has a clear imprint of everything written with it, it also has an imprint of the letter the victim was typing - revealing the motive for the murder.

This was Cassidy's third and final Columbo episode. In all three, he played the killer.
376"Last Salute to the Commodore"Patrick McGoohanJackson GillisFred DraperJohn Dehner and Robert VaughnMay 2, 1976 (1976-05-02)91 minutes

Commodore Otis Swanson (John Dehner) is a retired naval officer who owns a shipbuilding company, and is not happy with the shady dealings of his son-in-law Charles Clay (Robert Vaughn), who has turned the modest and upstanding business into a name-brand production line for status-seekers. Nor is he pleased with any of the people closest to him - his alcoholic daughter Joanna Clay (Diane Baker), his middle-aged playboy nephew Swanny Swanson (Fred Draper), his lawyer Jonathan Kittering (Wilfrid Hyde-White), and his shipyard manager Wayne Taylor (Joshua Bryant). He announces at his birthday party his intention to sell the company. That night, someone murders the Commodore. Although we don't see the murder on-screen, Clay is seen covering up the death by taking the Commodore's body out on his yacht at night and throwing it overboard. Columbo investigates with the help of a veteran sergeant and a 29-year-old rookie. The detective's conviction that Clay committed the crime proves premature and inaccurate, an unusual development for Columbo. Clay himself turns up dead and Columbo realizes that someone else is responsible for both murders.

Final clue/twist: When Columbo holds Commodore Swanson's pocket watch to every suspect's ear, only Swanny seems to be confused, saying "'Tisn't" because the watch was supposed to be broken. He had broken the watch during the murder to create a false time frame.

This episode departs from the usual Columbo format in several ways. First, the man implied to be the killer is not, and thus the episode becomes a true whodunit, with the actual murderer revealed at the end. Second, neither of the two murders is shown. Third, Columbo's personality is atypically agitated, impatient and less superficially amiable than in most other episodes. Fourth, regular clichés such as "Just one more thing" and "Something's been bothering me" are absent from this episode. Fifth, rather than working alone, Columbo works closely alongside two other police officers (played by Bruce Kirby and Dennis Dugan), who at times interrogate suspects. Finally, the episode departs from the usual style in presenting a far greater emphasis on comedy, including some minor slapstick elements, and features a less dramatic tone.


  1. ^ Britton, Wesley Alan (2004). Spy Television. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 110. ISBN 9780275981631. Retrieved August 7, 2014.