Oliver Brandt

Oliver Brandt is the main antagonist of the Columbo episode "The Bye-bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case".

He was played by Theodore Bikel.


Oliver Brandt was a certifed genius, being a member of a MENSA like order, that allowed only the top two percent as a member. His best friend Bertie Hastings was also a member, the two had long gone into buisness together. But to keep up with the expenditure of his younger wife, Oliver resorted to extorting money from his clienets. Bertie grew suspicious, and had his secretary remove several files from Oliver, proving it.

Realising this Oliver formulated his plan to kill Bertie, which would be the perfect crime. First he setup the record player (a state of the art one he himself donated) with several wires, so that when it got to a certain point the hand would click back twice, connecting the circuit causing two exploding caps to blow in turn, simulating gun shots, the caps he hid in his umbrella in the fire place

Then he opened the window, so that when one of the doors would open, the air change would cause the other to close. And finally set up a giant dictionary so it might fall at any moment and leaving a pen on the edge, so the record hand would knock it off, shortly after the first cap blew, knocking the dictionary onto the floor, to simulate a body falling.

Then afterwards he met up with Bertie at the club, and acted friendly towards him and the others, and asked Bertie to come with him to play there regular game, of guessing a page and a line in the dictionary, then checking, and depending on whether it was odd or even, it would decide which one paid for the drinks. Going up, after they had done so, he turned on the record player.

Bertie however confronted him about the embezzlement, and told him he would tell the police, Oliver then warned he would have to kill him, Bertie hesitated but then went though, telling him he couldn't scare him. As such Oliver pulled out his gun, with a silencer on it and shot him twice. Before taking his wallet to make it look like a robbery, and telling his dead friend he wished it could have been different. He then hid the gun.

Going down, he met up with the other members of the order and joked it was Bertie who had to pay for the drinks tonight. Then the caps blew up, together with the others he rushed up, he removed the evidence hiding it in his umbrella, and pretended to react in surprise and shock when he found his dead friend.

Later Oliver first met up with Columbo, who was investigating the homicide, he told him about the order, and about what happened. Slightly interested he gave Columbo a logical puzzle, as an example of what the members of the order had to pass to qualify. Before leaving, returning home he was genuinely shocked at what he had done.

The next day he retrieved his umbrella and tried to dispose of the gun in he mark, only for Columbo to meet up with him, claiming to be there about the fact his nephew wanted to go into the business and if he had any tips for him. In the moment Columbo was distracted to get an ice-cream he got rid of the gun under some rubbish in a bin. Having seen it emptied without the gun being found, feeling more confident he answered Columbo question about why he had an umbrella with a long speech hoping to throw Columbo off.

Later he found Columbo talking to his secretary, he passed this off as him looking for more tips for his nephew, but his secretary told him Columbo was prying into the matters of the files. Later Columbo met up with him, and revealed his belief that the Robbery was diversion from what was really a planed murder. He also asked if Oliver knew what looked like Bertie was involved in some shifty business, Oliver claimed he didn't. But let slip, since the event he no longer enjoyed the order, he also gave Columbo some confirmations on the logical puzzle he gave him. Curious, he enquired about Columbo's own IQ, only for Columbo to reveal he didn't know it.

Later, one night Columbo turned up at his house, Oliver worried but Columbo left quickly, he then revealed to his wife about the embezzlement, but she intentionally pretended not to understand it.

The next night, Oliver was summoned to the order's headquarters, hearing shots he tried to run, only to find the doorway blocked arriving, up Columbo revealed it was just him experimenting with exploding Caps. He then revealed he had (supposedly) accidentally taken Oliver's umbrella the night before, and although it couldn't be used as evidence, he had it checked and found the powder burns of exploding caps inside. He then revealed he had figured out the answer to Oliver's puzzle and proved he had.

Curious Oliver enquired about Columbo's intellect, Columbo dismissed the idea he was a genius, claiming he got by solely due to hard work and determination. Oliver in turn revealed how his own childhood had been difficult due to a combination of his intelect forcing him to grow up to fast and having to hide it so he could fit in with the other children. Columbo then revealed in mass succession every detail of Oliver's plan, missing just one, how the dictionary fell. Caught up in a moment of arrogance, Oliver let slip how he considered all the other members bellow him in intellectual terms and let Columbo goad him into revealing how he did it (which Columbo had figured out).

Realising the moment afterwards he had pretty much confessed, Oliver surrender and while he and Columbo waited for the other officer to arrive to arrest him, he decided to test Columbo's claim at his lack of intelligence, by reading him one of the possible questions used to access potential members.

Skipping to the harder questions, Oliver set Columbo a very complex logic puzzle about which of four words did not belong. Thinking for a few moments, Columbo came to the correct answer. And Oliver, taking this as proof Columbo really was a genius, found some solace in the fact he had been beaten by someone he could class as an equal.