Syracuse University Magazine

Passings

Peter Falk G’53

Peter FalkPeter Falk, who appeared in more than 100 feature films and television series, died in his Beverly Hills home on June 23, 2011, at age 83. Best known for his TV portrayal of Lt. Columbo, the emphatically working-class Los Angeles police detective who made a specialty of outwitting wealthy, highly articulate murderers, Falk had greater range as an actor than many Columbo fans knew. He was equally at home staring mid-life depression in the face as Archie Black in John Cassavetes’s Husbands (1970); starring on Broadway in the Neil Simon farce, The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971); or playing himself as a guest on The Larry Sanders Show (1992). Born in Manhattan and raised mostly in Ossining, New York, Falk lost an eye to cancer as a 3-year-old. A political science major at the New School for Social Research, Falk enrolled in Syracuse to earn a master’s degree in public administration at the Maxwell School. After being rejected for a job at the C.I.A., he turned to acting while working as a management analyst for the state of Connecticut.  (Photo: Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com)

John Mackey ’63

John MackeyJohn Mackey, one of the NFL’s all-time great tight ends and founding president of the players’ union, died on July 6, 2011, in Baltimore at age 69. He had suffered from dementia for several years. A member of SU’s All-Century Team whose No. 88 jersey was retired in the Carrier Dome in 2007, Mackey joined the Baltimore Colts in 1963 and revolutionized the tight end position as a receiving and scoring threat, demonstrating a combination of raw power and breakaway speed. In 10 NFL seasons, he was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and played in two Super Bowls for Baltimore, winning a champ-ionship ring in 1971. In that title game, he caught a twice-tipped Johnny Unitas pass, turning it into a 75-yard touchdown. In 1992, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mackey brought the same intensity to his pioneering work with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). As union president, he led a brief players’ strike in 1970 that resulted in improved player benefits and pensions. In 1972, he was one of the players who successfully challenged the NFL’s free agency restrictions in federal court. In 2006, through the advocacy work of his wife, Sylvia Mackey ’63, the league created the “88 Plan”—named for his jersey number—to provide financial support for retired players living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. “I always tried to get something out of every play,” he said.

Link: An SU Friend Remembers Mackey