Actor Peter Falk, who found fame as detective Columbo in the long-running TV series, has died aged 83.

Falk, who had been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease for several years, died peacefully at his Beverly Hills home on Thursday night, according to a statement released by family friend Larry Larson.

Falk won four Emmy awards for playing Columbo, the dishevelled-looking Italian-American detective who became famous for his trademark battered raincoat.

The actor, who took on the part after Bing Crosby had turned it down, first played the role in a one-off TV movie in 1968 but makers NBC commissioned a series in 1971.

It was screened every third week from 1971 until it was eventually cancelled in 1977, although the show was revived in 1989 with occasional made-for-TV movies being made until 2003.

Falk, who reportedly earned around $250,000 a show, turned down an offer to convert it into a weekly series, saying it would have been too heavy a workload.

Columbo’s famous mac was actually an old raincoat which Falk had bought for himself. It was eventually replaced after 25 years of the show after becoming too tattered to wear.

The actor also starred in a number of films during his career including It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, The Princess Bride and Murder By Death, and in 2004 provided one of the voices for the animated hit Shark Tale.

He was nominated for two Oscars during his career, for the 1960 film Murder Inc and for Pocketful of Miracles in 1961.

Falk was born on September 16 1927 in New York City, and grew up in the suburb of Ossining where his parents ran a clothing store.

He had an eye removed at the age of three due to cancer, something which he later said he learned to live with after it became “the joke of the neighbourhood”.

“If the umpire ruled me out on a bad call, I’d take the fake eye out and hand it to him,” Falk joked in a 1963 interview.

He is survived by his wife Shera and two daughters, Catherine and Jackie.