Everett Collecton
Jeff Labrecque
July 04, 2011 AT 06:30 PM EDT

Peter Falk died on June 23 at the age of 83, and while most fans know him best from his starring turn as Columbo or the kindly grandfather from The Princess Bride, Wim Wenders had the distinction of directing him twice, in Wings of Desire (1987) and Faraway, So Close (1993). The German director put his thoughts about the beloved actor on paper in a tribute for People, titled “About Peter Falk.” Wenders had found himself in a jam during the shooting of Wings of Desire, and at the last moment, he decided he needed an actor to play an ex-angel. Falk was the only person he considered, and surprisingly, the star agreed on a moment’s notice to come to Berlin to play the role.

“Rarely a shoot was so much fun as those days with Peter Falk. Everybody recognized him, of course. As soon as you stood in the street with him, people showed up from everywhere. Pizza bakers came running out of their pizzerias, their hands still full of flour! Buses stopped! Old ladies crossed red lights for the first time in their lives!

I never saw anybody deal with his fame so generously and kindly. Peter Falk shook everybody’s hands, smiled at everybody, gave everybody an autograph, had everybody spell their funny German names, had his picture taken with everybody! With no exception! And everybody walked away happily: ‘I met Columbo!’

We really had found an ex-angel.”

Read more:

Celebrities mourn Peter Falk on Twitter

Peter Falk dies at 83

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