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Getty Images | YouTube.com/BBC Select
Source: Getty Images | YouTube.com/BBC Select

Peter Falk's Adopted Child Wanted to Be His Caregiver after His Memory Loss Yet She Was Banned from Seeing Him

Junie Sihlangu
Jul 29, 2022
12:20 P.M.
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When actor Peter Falk was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, his adopted daughter wanted to be his primary caregiver. However, the star's wife prevented that from happening, and Peter's daughter didn't even get to say goodbye when he died.

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Peter Falk was best known for his fantastic role as Lieutenant Columbo in the long-running television crime show "Columbo." He nailed the character's scatter-brained behavior, only to become a reality when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

In 2008, The Guardian reported that the two-time Oscar Award nominee's daughter, Catherine Falk, revealed that he could not care for himself. At the time, the actor was 81 when his daughter filed court papers asking to be his caregiver.

Peter Falk in London, United Kingdom, on April 24, 1969. | Source: Getty Images

Peter Falk in London, United Kingdom, on April 24, 1969. | Source: Getty Images

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The court documents revealed that Peter needed "full-time custodial care" for his safety and health. Catherine said her father could not protect himself against undue influence or fraud.

She shared how he couldn't communicate or recognize his physical needs with people who could meet them. The documents revealed the actor was so ill he was unable to identify things, places, or familiar people.

Peter Falk and his daughter Catherine on the set of "Columbo" on December 16, 1975, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Peter Falk and his daughter Catherine on the set of "Columbo" on December 16, 1975, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

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Catherine said her father forgot significant life events and would recall things that hadn't happened. She claimed that her father had "lost control" of his car and got injured in the head after crashing into an office building six months before she made her court filing.

Peter's daughter also alleged that he couldn't manage his finances, opening him up to fraudsters. She was also concerned that he could be "easily deceived into transferring away property."

Her father's alleged dire mental situation and the reasons Catherine gave in her filing were what forced her to take action and offer herself as her father's legal guardian. Sadly, Peter's daughter had opened a door that would yield nothing pleasant for her.

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CATHERINE'S CONSERVATORSHIP FILING AND THE BATTLE WITH HER STEPMOTHER

Peter Falk and Alyce Mayo at a party in Los Angeles, California, circa 1972. | Source: Getty Images

Peter Falk and Alyce Mayo at a party in Los Angeles, California, circa 1972. | Source: Getty Images

Before Peter met and married his second and last wife, he was with Alyce Mayo. Their relationship ended in divorce in 1976, after they'd been together for 16 years and welcomed two children.

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The former couple adopted Catherine and her sister Jackie. In Catherine's court filings, she asked to be her father's legal guardian or "conservator" and claimed Peter's second wife, her stepmother, had stopped her from seeing the star.

Peter Falk and Shera Danese Falk at the Annual Lint Roller Party in Hollywood, California, on April 28, 2004. | Source: Getty Images

Peter Falk and Shera Danese Falk at the Annual Lint Roller Party in Hollywood, California, on April 28, 2004. | Source: Getty Images

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Through Steven Hogan, Catherine's attorney, the actor's daughter shared how her stepmother, Shera Danese Falk, had "cruelly" prevented her "and others" from visiting Peter. She claimed that she couldn't see her father for Father's Day in June 2008, with Hogan noting:

"He has Alzheimer's that has gotten significantly worse. She wants to make sure he gets the care he needs."

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However, it was revealed that the filing was not the first time Catherine, a former private investigator, took legal action to have some influence on Peter. In 1992, she filed a lawsuit against the actor for stopping to pay her college fees, and at the time, they had settled out of court.

Catherine's efforts bore no fruit when a judge put Peter in a conservatorship so his daughter could occasionally visit him. The star's second wife remained in control of his affairs and personal care as he battled advanced dementia.

The court ruled that Catherine could visit her father for 30 minutes every other month. The ruling came just in time as the legendary actor didn't have long to live, and his daughter wasn't given a chance to say goodbye.

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PETER'S DEATH, HIS DAUGHTER BEING BANNED FROM HIS FUNERAL, AND THE ONGOING FAMILY FEUD

Peter Falk at the 20th Anniversary William S. Paley Television Festival Presents "Columbo" in Hollywood, California, on March 6, 2003. | Source: Getty Images

Peter Falk at the 20th Anniversary William S. Paley Television Festival Presents "Columbo" in Hollywood, California, on March 6, 2003. | Source: Getty Images

In June 2011, the heartbreaking news was reported that Peter had passed on at age 83, amid his family's feuding. "The New York Times," said the actor died at night at his Beverly Hills, California home, with his lawyer and longtime friend releasing the statement.

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Larry Larson confirmed that the star had been treated for Alzheimer's disease. That same month, Inside Edition interviewed Catherine, who revealed she was devastated and mourning her father's death, and how she couldn't attend his funeral, stating:

"I've been filled with so many different emotions, so much anger, so much sadness, so much pain. I am in a state of shock."

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The comedian's daughter claimed she had been banned from attending his funeral. She also told the publication that she had spent his final years away from her father because she was kept away.

Catherine lamented finding out about the star's death hours after he had gone. Peter and his daughter became estranged after her 1992 lawsuit, and she felt most people thought she was a "money-grubbing daughter."

Peter and Shera Falk during Sir Ben Kingsley Presents the Mahatma Gandhi Humanitarian Award to Dr. Mani Bhaumik in Beverly Hills, California, on November 15, 2005. | Source: Getty Images

Peter and Shera Falk during Sir Ben Kingsley Presents the Mahatma Gandhi Humanitarian Award to Dr. Mani Bhaumik in Beverly Hills, California, on November 15, 2005. | Source: Getty Images

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The star's daughter was concerned that people believed she was going after her famous father to get his money. Catherine blamed her father's second wife for her problems with the four-time Primetime Emmy Award winner.

She [Catherine Falk] told the publication that she felt a sense of closure and calm and was happy knowing where he [Peter Falk] was buried.

She said Shera was constantly trying to divide them. Catherine explained how her father had been married, for more than three decades, to a woman who made it difficult for her father to "feel free."

Peter Falk during the 36th Annual Nashville Film Festival in Nashville, Tennessee, on April 15, 2005. | Source: Getty Images

Peter Falk during the 36th Annual Nashville Film Festival in Nashville, Tennessee, on April 15, 2005. | Source: Getty Images

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She complained that she and others weren't allowed to go into their father's home. However, Catherine claimed she and Peter did reconcile despite the difficult times and had a "very loving relationship," adding:

"I adored him, he adored me."

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Before being excluded from the funeral, Troy Martin, Catherine's lawyer, sent a letter to Shera's attorney asking when and where the funeral would be. Shera's lawyer denied them information and said Peter's funeral was about him, not Catherine.

The actor was buried alongside other celebrities like Jack Lemmon and Caroll O'Connor at the Westwood Memorial Park. Inside Edition accompanied Catherine to the fresh grave, where she got to say goodbye to her father.

She had some of the stings of not being allowed to attend his burial eased by finally bidding him farewell. She told the publication that she felt a sense of closure and calm and was happy knowing where he was buried.

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