The show “Murder She Wrote”, Cast, Pictures, and Trivia!
This series is about Jessica Fletcher, (Angela Lansbury) a widowed, retired school teacher, who becomes a mystery writer.
She lives in the state of Maine, in a small town called, Cabot Cove. Although her writing career is quite successful, she is still friends with everyone she’s ever been close to, and continues to act just like she always has. Well, except for one thing, she has become an amateur detective, solving the many, many murders that seem to occur in Cabot Cove, as well as other places. Despite trained and experienced police officers and detectives always on the case, in the end, they never seem able to solve it without the help of Jessica.
There were only a few other regulars on the show, one was William Windom, who played Jessica’s best friend, Dr. Seth Hazlitt. The other two were Tom Bosley as Sheriff Amos Tupper and later, Ron Masak as Sheriff Mort Metzger. In addition, there was also a small recurring cast, as well as the long list of guest stars on the show, most of who were quite well known. For example George Clooney of “ER” fame, Neil Patrick Harris from “How I Met Your Mother“, and David Ogden Stiers from “MASH”
This show was very popular for many years. It was an interesting series to watch, and allowed you to guess who the murderer was along with everyone else. With fine writing, good acting (especially Angela Lansbury) and a varied list of guest stars. I give it 6 out of 10.
Jessica Fletcher-Angela Lansbury
Dr. Seth Hazlitt-William Windom
Sheriff Amos Tupper-Tom Bosley
Sheriff Mort Metzger-Ron Masak
Deputy Andy Broom-Louis Herthum
Deputy Floyd-Will Nye
Grady Fletcher-Michael Horton
Lt. Catalono-Ken Swafford
Eve Simpson-Julie Adams
NYPD Lt. Artie Gelber-Herb Edelman
Dennis Stanton-Keith Michell
Arthur Brent-Bradford Dillman
Sam Booth-Richard Paul
Michael Hagarty-Len Cariou
Lynn Childs-Gregg Henry
Robert Butler-James Sloyan
Connie Miles-Rosanna Huffman
Rhoda Markowitz-Hallie Todd
Al the Mailman-Alexander Folk
Harry McGraw-Jerry Orbach
Charles Lawton Standish-Richard Beymer
Inspector Lombardo-George DiCenzo
Hank Shipton-Ken Howard
Ben Devlin-Joe Dorsey
Gabriel Caceras-Gregory Sierra
Alvin Bucknell-Richard Morse
Carol Collins-Barbara Babcock
Harry Pierce-John Astin
Matthew Ryan-Mark Lindsay Chapman
Ned Larkin-Steve Forrest
Brian Wade-Alan Fudge
Bo Dixon-William Lucking
Arthur Wainwright-Stephen Macht
Len Spalding-Martin Milner
Hal Palmer-Ernie Lively
Harold Baines-Earl Ogilvy
Carl Turnbal-Ed Nelson
Lawrence Cayle-James Sutorius
Charles Kroll-Allan Miller
Doug Helman-Robert Pine
Althea Mayberry-Tricia O’Neil
Ted Hartley-Bruce Gray
Charlie Garrett-Wayne Rogers
Jean O’Neill-Madlyn Rhue
Donna Mayberry-Debbie Zipp
Maylene Sutter-Lee Purcell
Det. Henderson-Leonard Lightfoot
Father Markopulos-R.J. Adams
Angela Lansbury was not the first choice to play Jessica Fletcher. It was also offered to Jean Stapleton and Doris Day, both of whom turned down the role.
Ron Masak, (Sheriff Metzger) when only 16 years old, was offered a contract by the Chicago White Sox baseball team.
William Windom (Seth Hazlitt) served in the United States Army during World War II with the 508th parachute infantry.
Tom Bosley (Sheriff Tupper) died less than three weeks after his 83rd birthday in October 2010 from heart failure.
The Murder She Wrote series is one of the longest-running and most successful of all time. It ran for twelve seasons, had four TV movies made after the series ended, and was responsible for a spin-off show called, “The Law & Harry McGraw”.
Ron Masak was the voice of Vlasic’s pickle stork for fifteen years.
Angela Lansbury’s son was, at one time, a follower of Charles Manson and his group. After the murder of Sharon Tate and several others, she decided the best course of action was to get him out of the country. Following this decision, she took him to Ireland to help him with his drug issues.
William Windom’s great-grandfather, for whom he was named, served in the Senate, as well as the U.S. House of Representatives. He also became Secretary of the Treasury under James Garfield and Benjamin Harrison.
Tom Bosley’s character on “Happy Days”, Howard Cunningham, came in ninth on TV Guide’s list of “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time” in 2004.
Ron Masak is considered to be the very first Elvis Presley impersonator.
Murder She Wrote even had a two-part crossover with the very popular, “Magnum, P.I.”, another series that belonged to CBS.
The title of the show is in reference to a 1961 movie entitled, “Murder She Said”.
Angela Lansbury (Jessica Fletcher) was contracted to MGM while still in her teens. Her first job was in the film, “Gaslight”, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. She holds the record as of 2010, for being the youngest actress to be awarded two Oscar nominations by the time she was 20 years old. And until January 17, 2010, she was tied with fellow actors, Alan Alda, Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson for the most Golden Globe Awards (6), until Streep won her seventh.
William Windom has four children and was married a total of five times.
Tom Bosley served in the United States Navy during World War II.
Ron Masak is the cousin of “Family Ties” actor, Michael Gross.
The harbor area in Cabot Cove, (Jessica Fletcher’s hometown) is in actuality, the Jaws Lake from the tram tour at Universal Studios.
David Lansbury, who is married to actress Ally Sheedy, is Angela Lansbury’s nephew.
Tom Bosley actually turned down the role of Howard Cunningham at first, but then changed his mind after re-reading the script. In the end, he played this character on three different series over the years, Happy Days, “Joanie Loves Chachi” and “Family Guy”.
Ron Masak was hand-picked by President Ronald Reagan, to succeed him for the position of Fire Prevention Spokesman in PSAs.
William Windom bought a small island in Windom, Minnesota, (named for his great-grandfather) for the price of only $1.00. The island is now a wildlife refuge.
The co-creator/producer of the show, Peter S. Fischer, and Lansbury did not like each other. Lansbury was said to be very overworked and was always demanding revisions to her character, which has been stated in quite a few magazine articles. According to rumors, she had every intention of quitting after her five year contract was up, so the season five finale was actually supposed to be a series finale. In the end though, Lansbury returned, forcing Fischer to have to re-write the entire finale script.
Angela Lansbury appeared in both “Kind Lady” and “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, with her mother, actress Moyna MacGill.
Ron Masak is the honorary sheriff of Tarzana, California.
Tom Bosley was the spokesman for SMC.
NBC announced in 2013, that they were going to reboot the Murder She Wrote series with actress, Octavia Spencer. Lansbury was very unhappy with the decision. They later decided not to do the reboot.
William Windom was a great chess enthusiast and a tournament-level player. He was profiled in Chess Life magazine two times.
Angela Lansbury’s first husband, Richard Cromwell, was a gay man, a fact which Lansbury states she was not aware of until their separation.
Although one of Tom Bosley’s most well-known roles was as Father Dowling, a catholic priest on the television show, “Father Dowling Mysteries”, he was actually Jewish in real life.
Ron Masak has six children.
In the last boatload of family members that were evacuated from London to the United States during World War II, was Angela Lansbury, her mother and her twin brothers.
William Windom can actually be heard promoting his show in 1963, “The Farmer’s Daughter”, just before programming was preempted with the tragic news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Jessica Fletcher’s maiden name on the show was McGill, which was Angela Lansbury’s mother’s name.
Angela Lansbury received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2000. She has also been awarded the honor of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, which was given to her by Queen Elizabeth II.
Tom Bosley originally wanted to become a sports announcer, due to his great love of baseball.
Ron Masak is the only Military Policeman to appear in the world touring, “All Army Show”, ever in history.
William Windom died in 2012 from congestive heart failure, at the age of 88 years old.
Angela Lansbury became a United States citizen in 1951.