Monday, April 25, 2005



As part of the job which keeps the roof over my head (It's the study of "televisiology" which feeds my soul.), I come into contact with actors who have strong links in Toobworld. And today I met another, Richard Riehle.

Mr. Riehle's best-known role is that of Walt Finnerty, the grandfather on 'Grounded For Life'. This was the Staten Island-based sitcom that started out on FOX and finished up on The WB. I enjoyed this show a lot, especially its use of flashbacks to illustrate what led up to their current predicaments, and it was my... admiration for Megyn Price that first brought me to the show.

But after Mr. Riehle was dropped to recurring status and then one of the grandsons was practically "disappeared", the show lost much of its original appeal for me. And I let Mr. Riehle know he was a big part of why I liked that show.

I also mentioned where I first became aware of him as an actor - his role in the episode "Inner Light" of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation', which seemed to surprise him that I should remember that.

But after that, my brain was in meltdown and I couldn't think of any other credits. Well, there was one other one, but it wasn't a very good movie and I didn't want to embarrass him (or me, for having seen it!) by mentioning it.

My security officer on duty did remember him from 'The Fugitive' as the older guard, and we went to the to check out all of his credits. And that's where I realized I'm building up quite a specialized collection of contacts - police detectives from 'Columbo'.

Last year, I got to meet John Finnegan at the job and that was quite a big thrill. He's played a variety of roles on 'Columbo' - as the foreman at the construction site ("Blueprint For Murder"), a trash compacter engineer ("Most Crucial Match"), and the police commissioner ("Columbo Cries Wolf"). His best role was that of Lt. Duffy in the episode of "A Friend In Deed".

He called me a few weeks ago and asked me to help set up a favor for Bruce Kirby, who played Sgt. Kramer in a good chunk of 'Columbo' episodes starting with "By Dawn's Early Light".

Kirby will be celebrating his 80th birthday at the end of May, God bless him!, and I was happy to do what little I could. But two weeks ago, Mr. Kirby himself called to say that he had to cancel out for personal reasons. I offered to cancel out the preparations already done, but he said there was no need - he had already done so and was just calling to thank me for that (very) little that I had done. I thought that was a classy move.

And now I got to meet Richard Riehle who played Columbo's fellow investigator Sgt. Degarmo in two episodes: "Ashes To Ashes" (with the my second favorite actor Patrick McGoohan in his last of four outings as a murderer on 'Columbo'), and "Murder With Too Many Notes".

Who knows? Maybe during the course of the job I may still meet other actors who played 'Columbo' sergeants, like Warren Berlinger.

I know for sure I'll never be meeting "Dog", though!


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