Columbo: Vito Scotti

Vito Scotti (1918-1996),
a character actor played six different characters in six different Columbo episodes.  We pay tribute to each of his contributions to solving Columbo’s mysteries.

The maitre d’ from “Any Old Port in the Storm”

Come to his unnamed French restaurant, and Vito Scotti the maitre d’, will hope you’ll enjoy your dinner next to the kitchen.  If you have to look at the prices on his menu, you can’t afford to eat there.  Don’t be fooled by his uppity demeanor.  He’ll fearfully cower to the raise of your palm.  Having trouble choosing from the wine menu? He’ll tell you they have a white wine steward and a red wine steward.

Mr. Grindell, funeral home manager, from “Swan Song”

In his one scene, Mr. Grindell greets Lt. Columbo at the front doors of his funeral home.  We know something of Mr. Grindell.  He is married to Martha, is a great admirer of the police department, and has been following police mortality rates.  Believing he is living in violent times, Mr. Grindell is never shy about selling departure plans from this mortal sphere.

Mr. Chadwick, purveyor of custom tailored suits, from “Candidate for Crime”

You’d be hard pressed to find a more smug salesman than Mr. Chadwick of Chadwick’s in Beverly Hills.  Uninterested in the any representative of the common man, Chadwick tailors $200 sport jackets from his suite that doesn’t bother with samples.  Notice how Chadwick pulls the tape from Columbo’s shoulders soon after the Lieutenant makes one last unreasonable request.

Thomas Dolan, the drunk, from “Negative Reaction”

Making his living from an abandoned junk yard, Thomas Dolan enjoys the touch of the grape.  He could be found at the local mission eating stew.  He is the centerpiece of Columbo’s investigation with powerful testimony.  Unfortunately, the sober Dolan can’t remember what he said when drunk.

Salvatore De Fonte, agriculture kingpin, from “Identity Crisis”

Salvatore’s De Fonte’s backstory was never fully understood.  He makes moving speeches to the world’s elite bridging agriculture and politics during a time of Olympic boycotts.  His motives are secret as he employs speech writers with mysterious and murderous backgrounds.  He does love the muscat and keeps a large platter on his desk.

Vito, bar owner, from “Murder, a Self Portrait”

In Vito Scotti’s last appearance on Columbo, he plays the bar owner who hosts Max Barsini’s studio in an upstairs apartment.  Vito has seen Max’s career blossom since the early days and gets free portraits hanging on his walls.  While we never see patrons frequent his place, its more like he’s living a retirement dream.




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