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The Spin-Off has a long and sometimes successful history. A character, usually minor, who has appeared in one show is upgraded to the central character of a new show.
But never before had a character who hadn't appeared been spun off.
After listening for about a decade to Lieutenant Columbo ramble on about his never-seen wife, someone decided it would be a good idea to do a Spin-Off starring her as an Amateur Sleuth in her own right. We suspect drugs were involved.
But who could possibly play the famous detective's Ghost spouse? Fortunately, Lieutenant Columbo had told us quite a lot about her: she was his childhood sweetheart. She was shortish, stoutish, raven-haired, and extremely busty.
So they cast Kate Mulgrew (later of Star Trek: Voyager), who was middling-tall, slender in build, redheaded, and about twelve the first time Mrs. Columbo was mentioned by her husband. We suspect drugs were involved.
When Mrs. Columbo failed to perform as hoped, the show was retooled under the new title Kate Columbo. Kate divorced her husband and carried out her amateur sleuthing under the auspices of her new job as a small-town newspaper reporter. We suspect drugs were involved.
The series was eventually retitled Kate Loves a Mystery, and then died. In all, only about a dozen episodes were made, possibly giving Mrs. Columbo the highest titles-to-episodes ratio in TV history.
Levinson and Link (creators of Columbo) have emphatically maintained that Kate Columbo is not the unseen wife of their character, but the wife of some other detective of the same name. During the filming of the first post-Mrs. Columbo episode of Columbo, they joked that they were considering having Columbo mention in passing that "some crazy girl" had been running around impersonating his wife.
- After Show
- The Danza (Kate Mulgrew as Kate Columbo)
- The Ghost (Mr. Columbo)
- Mystery of the Week
- Plucky Girl
- Suspicion that drugs were involved in its conception.