Grace Wheeler

Janet Leigh

EPISODE 32


Columbo Villains -  Grace Wheeler

Last Words to Columbo: "He took his own life!"



The primary antagonist in the season five opener of Columbo, "Forgotten Lady" is Grace Wheeler (played by Janet Leigh. Grace is a retired film and dance star, who is also the wife of retired physician Henry Willis. In the episode, Grace is determined to make a comeback and regain her former fame. She proposes her plans to Henry, asking for $500,000 to fund the comeback, which he firmly refuses, reminding her that her acting days are behind her. Despite Henry's objections, Grace is unwilling to accept defeat and sees him as an obstacle to her goals. She hatches a plan to eliminate him, believing it is the only way to achieve her ambition. Consequently, Grace becomes the villainess of the episode, and the story unfolds as the famed detective, Columbo, tries to solve the mystery of Henry's murder and bring Grace to justice.
Janet Leigh (1927-2004) was an American actress who appeared in numerous films and television shows throughout her career. Born on July 6, 1927, in Merced, California, Leigh began acting in films in the late 1940s, quickly gaining recognition for her beauty and talent. One of Leigh's most iconic roles was in Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller "Psycho" (1960), in which she played the character of Marion Crane. Her memorable performance in the film earned her critical acclaim and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Leigh also appeared in a variety of other films throughout her career, including "Little Women" (1949), "Touch of Evil" (1958), and "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962). In addition to her work in film, Leigh also appeared in several television shows, including "The Twilight Zone" and "Murder, She Wrote". Leigh was married to actor Tony Curtis from 1951 to 1962, and the couple had two daughters together, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kelly Curtis, both of whom also went on to have successful acting careers; Jamie Lee, winning a best supporting actor Oscar.