More Familiar Fashion with Robert Culp

Previously I posted about an ad for Ralph Lauren Purple Label suits reminding me of Culp’s pinstripe suit in the 1973 Columbo episode “Double Exposure.” (Have I mentioned I looooove a man in a three piece suit?)

Well, I found some more Culp-esque fashion.  Sasha Charnin Morrison, Fashion Director for Us Weekly, tweeted several photos of Natalie Wood last week and, in relation to that, also tweeted that “the Gucci Spring 2013 collection looks a lot like Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.” I admit it does remind me of B&C&T&A with a lot of the bright colors and all (the women’s Gucci fashions more so), but I wasn’t expecting this:

Okay, the leather one is a stretch, since the Gucci model isn’t wearing matching leather pants (and why not?) and the color is different, yes. BUT! The Gucci color reminds me of this Culp suit! (Again from a Columbo episode, “The Most Crucial Game” 1972….)

And upon further investigating in the Gucci Spring 2013 collection we have this red hued suit and…well now lookit that, a polka dotted tie…

This light blue suit (middle) harkened back to I Spy (left) and even the beige/off white tie reminded me of Frank Bogg’s similar look in Hickey & Boggs (right). Apologies to Gucci though, yes, I know Boggs’ suit looks like it was run over by a car – with him in it.

The best though? This yellow jacket and white pants combination!

So what does all this Culp inspired fashion mean? Two things. One, Robert Culp was simply fashionable and two…I pay way too much attention to his clothes apparently…

This Seems Familiar….

The latest issue of Time magazine features a two page advertisement on the inside cover for Ralph Lauren. Two finely suited young men are dressed in Ralph Lauren Purple Label suits. Very classic. Very stylish.

And, seemingly, very familiar…

The striped shirt, print tie and three piece pattern suit in the Lauren ad reminded me of Culp’s striped shirt, print tie and three piece pin stripe suit from Columbo “Double Exposure” (1973). I’m biased, of course, but I think Culp wore it better.

Columbo: The Most Crucial Game

Columbo - The Most Crucial Game

Columbo - The Most Crucial Game

Originally aired: November 5, 1972

Two things to note here…

1. The moustache. It was real and it threw me for a loop. He looked so different with it! Outside of a game show appearance from the same year and a photo of Culp from a documentary on race relations from around the same time period (’71?), I was used to seeing Culp pretty much sans facial hair. (The Grizzly Adams beard in Hannie Caulder is a different story).

2. The Los Angeles Coliseum. If I’ve got the timeline right in my mind, about the time Culp filmed his first appearance on Columbo in 1971, he either just completed or was just about to start on filming for Hickey & Boggs. By the time this episode aired in November of 1972, Hickey & Boggs had been out in the theatres for about a month. So you could watch Culp on the big screen running around the Coliseum and then come home and watch him in the same place on the small screen!

Culp plays Paul Hanlon, general manager for a pro football team owned by Eric Wagner. Eric inherited the sports empire from his father but would rather spend his days partying and playing. Paul, however, sees a better and brighter future for himself – if he can get Eric out of the way.

Paul arrives at the Coliseum and makes his way up to the owners box. He dismisses the busboy for the afternoon, explaining that it would only be him in the box and no guests. After the busboy leaves, Paul gets on the phone to Eric, rustling him out of bed (it’s already afternoon) and telling him to do some laps in the pool and be ready to be picked up as soon as the game was over. They had a flight to catch to Montreal for a business meeting regarding the purchase of another sports team.

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Continue reading more of The Most Crucial Game…

Columbo: Death Lends a Hand

Originally aired: October 6, 1971

Here we go! The episode that started it all for me in being a Fan of All Things Culp.

Culp plays Brimmer, a former police officer turned private investigator who runs a very sophisticated investigative operation (indeed, he was not Jim Rockford. This firm had several operatives, a fleet of vehicles, electronic gizmos, highrise office space and support staff ). Brimmer’s latest case involved investigating the allegations of infidelity on the part of the young wife of Arthur Kennicut, a prominent LA newspaper publisher. Brimmer reports to Mr. Kennicut that his wife had a “clean bill of health” and was not having any affairs. Mr. Kennicut accepts this finding with relief but we find out after he leaves Brimmer’s office that the report from Brimmer was a total lie. Brimmer then attempts to blackmail Mrs. Kennicut, saying he would keep the proof of her affair quiet if she would provide him with inside information of the powerful people in LA that Mr. Kennicut had connections to.

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Right. Mrs. Kennicut throws Brimmer’s blackmail attempt right back in his face, saying she would come clean to her husband first and admit her infidelity – and then expose Brimmer’s blackmail attempt, turning those same powerful connections Brimmer wanted information on into a serious source of trouble, not to mention totally ruining his reputation and his business.


Brimmer, a short tempered kinda guy to begin with, becomes furious with Mrs. Kennicut and accidentally kills her.


Of course, he didn’t intend to kill. And once he realizes what he’s done, he knows the murder of this woman is worse than being exposed for the blackmail attempt.  Thus he does his damndest to cover it up, cleaning up all evidence of anything she touched from his beach house and then transporting her body across LA to leave her in an industrial area.

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It should’ve worked. Once her body is discovered the next morning, it looks like a mugging. Tragic and unfortunate, but she was killed for her money. Brimmer, in a further attempt to keep any suspicion possible away from himself shows up at Mr. Kennicut’s home to offer condolences and offer the services of his firm to find Mrs. Kennicut’s killer.

Yup, the whole cover up should’ve worked. Accept for this pesky, cigar chomping police lieutenant named Columbo…

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Despite all the charm Brimmer can put forth, he knows right off the bat that Columbo is going to be a challenge.


Scratch that. Not a challenge. A full fledged pain in the posterior.

The rest of the episode is Brimmer trying to outwit Columbo and throw the Lieutenant off the trail. But it doesn’t work. After one particular conversation where the seemingly scatterbrained Lieutenant reveals a couple of innocent facts and makes a couple of innocent statements, Brimmer realizes the heat is on…

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Brimmer only digs himself even deeper when he tries to woo Columbo into leaving the police force and joining the detective agency with the promise of more money and complimenting him on his detective skills.


Columbo says he’ll think it over, talk to the wife. Brimmer thinks he might have a chance.  Then two strange things happen. Brimmer’s car won’t work and he sends it off to the garage to be fixed. Then he gets a call from Mr. Kennicut; Columbo has requested that Mrs. Kennicut’s body be exhumed for some reason.


Now this is where I have to apologize for not remembering exactly how Columbo set this up (were they looking for the contact lens in the casket? Were they looking to see if she had both lens still, or didn’t? Or…gah. Sorry!). What I do know, is the “missing” contact lens sets Brimmer on a search through his beach house, where Columbo shows up, “innocently” enough, says something to further unsettle Brimmer and Brimmer searches a little more once Columbo leaves. Then Brimmer decides he has to search his car – which is still in the shop.

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Brimmer breaks into the repair shop and finds his car. He searches the trunk and does indeed find a contact lens…

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…and the Lieutenant is waiting for him. Brimmer, indignant, storms away from Columbo and reaches for his cigarettes in his pocket. He then attempts to throw the empty cigarette package away when Columbo stops him, grabbing his hand before the contents are ejected into the wastebasket.

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The contact lens in Brimmer’s hand is evidence enough. Caught “red handed” Brimmer accepts being busted, admits his guilt and apologizes quietly to Mr. Kennicut, who was also present during this.

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I enjoyed watching this episode and for it being over 2 years since I saw it, the fact I can still remember the plot well enough speaks to how good it is. I capped it pretty much right after I watched it. Definitely a worthwhile introduction to Robert Culp!

“Death Lends a Hand” is available on the Season One DVD of Columbo available at