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Robert Culp, Nice Guy, Killer, Spy

His amazing appeal endures, more than 2 years after his death

Actor Robert Culp died

Robert Culp as Kelly Robinson in 'I Spy.' — Photo by NBC/Getty Images

Peter Falk once told me that of all the actors who played killers on Columbo, Robert Culp was one of his favorites.

See also: The Karate Kid

"He was perfect," recalled Falk. Culp played four different Columbo killers over four seasons. As the perpetrator Culp projected an inherent likeability that made his characters unforgettable.

It's that enduring quality that even now, more than two years after his death at age 79, sustains Culp as one of Hollywood's most popular figures: Each day, thousands of readers click on his family-run home page (robertculponline.com) and visit old obituaries from March 2010, when he died following a fall at his home.

That's amazing for a guy who had just one memorable starring movie role (Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, 1969) and one lead part in a TV series (on the groundbreaking I Spy opposite Bill Cosby). The fact is, Bob Culp was a guy we liked best in a supporting role (from The Greatest American Hero to Everybody Loves Raymond). He was always the star's best friend, and maybe that made him our friend, too. 

You may also like: Raquel Welch: aging beautifully. »

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From AARP's My Generation, a weekly television magazine, a feature story about comedian Richard Pryor and how his daughter Rain is continuing his legacy. Watch.

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