A legal battle between Peter Falk's wife of 32 years and his adopted daughter over whether a conservator should be appointed for the Emmy-winning actor resumes today with another court hearing.
In court papers filed Dec. 12, Catherine Falk said her adoptive father, now 81, is no longer able take care of himself due to deteriorating health -- she says he suffers from Alzheimer's disease and dementia -- and should be placed under a conservatorship order to protect him and so she can visit him regularly.
Falk's current wife, Shera Danese Falk, maintains in her opposition papers that there is no need for a conservatorship, but that if one is established, she should be named conservator for her husband.
Alyce Mayo, Falk's former wife, on Friday weighed in with a sworn declaration in which she defends Catherine's position. Mayo was married to the actor from 1960 to 1976 and during that time two girls, Catherine and Jackie, were adopted by the couple.
Mayo says Shera Falk and Catherine had some disagreements, but overall have remained close despite alleged attempts by Shera to keep them from seeing each other.
"The relationship between Peter and Catherine has always remained one of father and daughter, and they maintained that relationship despite Shera's resentment of Catherine and (despite) Shera's ... adamant and unjustified refusal to permit Catherine and her family to come to Peter's home to see him," Mayo states.
Another declaration was submitted Friday on Catherine's behalf by Carole R. Smith, Falk's personal assistant from 1968 to 1981. She says Falk, Catherine and Jackie remained close despite his divorce from Mayo and marriage to Shera.
"After Peter was married to Shera, Peter would visit as often as his busy schedule would permit, and he often purchased gifts for his daughter," Smith says.
But those visits usually took place at Mayo's home or at a public place such as a restaurant because of Shera's alleged resentment of the girls, Smith states.
Smith further says that she only saw the adoptive daughters and Shera together once, and that was at Shera's wedding to the actor.
However, Shera argues in her court papers that the court "need not take the drastic step of taking away Peter's rights under the guise of a conservatorship."
Falk planned for his care as he got older by establishing a trust and health care directive, according to his wife. She is the current trustee and is managing its assets with help from a business manager, her court papers state.
In addition, she has hired nurses to take care of her husband's needs around the clock when she is unable to do so, her court papers state.