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Most famous victim/least famous murderer

A few weeks ago, there was a really good thread on Columbo guest stars at the very top of their careers when they made their appearances.

How about the least famous actor to play a murderer and the most famous actor to play a victim? (Not necessarily both in the same episode.)

I’m restricting myself to the original episodes, since it seems a lot of the guests on the newer episodes seemed to have come to fame on soap operas (or am I mistaken?). That’s not a genre that I typically think of when it comes to fame:smile:, but feel free to include the new ones if you want.

While mulling this around in my head, I came up with one single episode that I think had the largest contrast between a renowned victim and an unrenowned murderer, although he was very familiar to Columbo fans! I’ll hold off on disclosing that for now.

Anyone want to weigh in?

Re: Most famous victim/least famous murderer

For most famous victim, I'm thinking maybe Martin Milner, Mickey Spillane or Forest Tucker (not real sure how his fame was after F-Troop). The least famous murderer is a little harder as I can't think of anybody who hadn't been in a good amount of 60s tv and movies by the time they were on Columbo.

Re: Most famous victim/least famous murderer

Martin Sheen makes for a pretty famous victim too!

But for contrast, I might nominate character actor Fred Draper from "Last Salute", who bumped off both Robert Vaughn AND John Dehner, both pretty significant starts in their own right.

Re: Most famous victim/least famous murderer

Brett, you're right about Martin Milner. I think we gave him short shrift in the previous thread about Columbo guests at the top of their fame. At the time his episode aired, Adam 12 was a top ten show in the Nielsen ratings, above Hawaii 5-0 and Ironside. I think Jack Lord and Raymond Burr would have been pretty big fish for the Columbo show to have hooked, especially as victims!

DirQ, that's exactly the episode I had in mind. Fred Draper was part of the Falk/Cassavettes circle, but otherwise not very well known.

Re: Most famous victim/least famous murderer

Martin Sheen is more a famous victim in hindsight. At the time, he was still something of a journeyman in the TV guest star circuit. His Bobby Kennedy performance in "The Missiles Of October" started elevating him more.

John Williams in "Dagger Of The Mind" I would put in a word for since he had a very long resume in films/TV and of course was well-known for his Hitchcock roles in "Dial M For Murder" and "To Catch A Thief". Patricia Crowley in "Death Lends A Hand" had a couple years earlier been the star of her own sitcom "Please Don't Eat The Daisies" which was still running in syndication in that era (I can remember it in syndication). Also can't leave out Anne Francis in "A Stitch In Crime" with her "Honey West" and "Forbidden Planet" background.

Re: Most famous victim/least famous murderer

I have three famous victims:

"Greenhouse Jungle" - Bradford Dillman

"The Most Crucial Game" - Dean Stockwell (he was a child actor and continued his prominence as he got older.)

"Identity Crisis" - Leslie Nielsen

Re: Most famous victim/least famous murderer

After Fred Draper, I think the next least famous murderer was Michael McGuire who played Hugh Caldwell in "A Friend in Deed".

Another "character actor", he worked more than Draper, and had at least one memorable role as Sumner Sloan in "Cheers". He appeared in the very first episode as Diane's fiance, who dumped her and left her at the bar. He had a couple of other appearances as Sloan in the series.

Re: Most famous victim/least famous murderer

This is more of a question than an answer, but I always wonder how big Clive Reville has ever been in THIS country, as opposed to Britain. I know he's familiar to people in the character actor sense, but I'm not sure about any other.

Re: Most famous victim/least famous murderer

Other than Columbo, the only other thing I know I've seen Clive Revill in is The Legend of Hell House. Apparently, I've seen him in The Empire Strikes Back, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Transformers the Movie and Zorro, The Gay Blade and never realised he was in those films.