The other day I watched another beloved early Columbo episode, Exercise in Fatality, 1974. The guest star was the once ubiquitous Robert Conrad, not only a good character actor, but lead role of a few different series, the best being the surreal Wild Wild West.
In the Columbo episode he played a cocky health club owner and money launderer turned murderer. Conrad was perfectly cast, the actor exuding cockiness and vitality. A bit later on he became well known as the guy who "dares ya", to challenge him, sporting a battery on his shoulder.
I wondered if he was still alive. I hadn't heard or seen a scrap about him in decades; such a vital man long silent in the public ether does not portend well. But lo and behold, when I googled him, I found him to be still in the land of the living. Apparently his shyness toward the public eye is due not to age, (of which there is some debate), but to a drunk driving crash in 2003. Driving a jaguar, he veered into a head-on collision. Like the Columbo episode, it turned out to be an exercise in fatality for the other driver, who eventually succumbed to injuries after years (according to his family.) Conrad seems to have recovered.
I find it strange that I hadn't heard about any of this; Mel Gibson's incident got a huge amount of air time, chatter in the cultural ether, despite being more trivial. Perhaps it was the Iraq War, clanking into top gear that year, that overshadowed the interest.