University News

Campus creates Lt. Columbo Memorial Scholarship Fund with Peter Falk estate gift

UCLA has received a $3 million gift from the estate of actor Peter Falk to provide student scholarships.

Falk, best known for his title role in "Columbo," the 1970s television show about a Los Angeles homicide detective, left a portion of his estate to the campus to support students and their academic pursuits. Falk died in June 2011 in Beverly Hills at the age of 83.

UCLA officials said they will use the bequest to establish the Shera and Peter Falk Lt. Columbo Memorial Scholarship Fund, with an initial award in fall 2012 to at least five undergraduates, who will receive scholarships covering tuition for four years. The emphasis will be on supporting undergraduates studying music, those with disabilities and those who are military veterans, consistent with the general wishes of Falk and his widow, Shera.

"Peter cared deeply about making a difference and giving back to the community," Shera Falk said. "What better legacy than to help students get a great education that will serve them throughout their lives, from a university so close to our home?"

"We're grateful that Mr. Falk and his wife, Shera, generously included UCLA in their estate plans," UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said. "This kind of support is essential to a top campus priority — ensuring access for the best and brightest students during challenging economic times."

The UCLA Scholarship Initiative has generated $104 million in funding for student financial assistance. In addition, the UCLA Achievement Scholarship program in fall 2011 began making available $20 million in scholarships to entering, high-achieving students with demonstrated financial need. Funding for the scholarships was made available through the Dream Fund, a unique philanthropic partnership established in February 2011 by UCLA and The Lincy Foundation, which transferred approximately $200 million in assets to be managed by The UCLA Foundation.

Falk's acting career spanned more than 50 years on Broadway and in movies and television. He appeared in more than 50 feature films, including "A Woman Under the Influence," "The Great Race," "The In-Laws" and "The Princess Bride." He received two Academy Award nominations for best supporting actor, for his portrayal of a mob hit man in "Murder, Inc." and his role as a gangster's sidekick in Frank Capra's "Pocketful of Miracles." Falk was nominated for 12 Primetime Emmy Awards and won five, including four for "Columbo."

UCLA is California's largest university, with an enrollment of nearly 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university's 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer 337 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Six alumni and five faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.
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