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Murder, She Wrote (TV Series 1984–1996) Poster

(1984–1996)

Trivia

Angela Lansbury received an Emmy nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series for the each of the show's twelve seasons. She did not win for any of the nominations.
Jessica never drove a car. She always rode her bicycle or took a cab. Sometimes she would ask someone to give her a ride.
Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach - a recurring actor in the show - and guest star David Ogden Stiers also starred together in the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast and its sequels as Mrs. Potts, Lumiere, and Cogsworth respectively, the first of which was filmed while Murder She Wrote was being aired.
The harbor of Jessica's home town, Cabot Cove, is actually the Jaws lake on the Universal Studios tram tour.
Series star Angela Lansbury and co-creator/producer Peter S. Fischer weren't particularly fond of one another, with numerous magazine articles documenting how overworked Lansbury was and how she would insist on numerous revisions to her character. In fact, Lansbury was rumored ready to quit after her contract expired at the end of the fifth season, and the season-ending two-parter was supposed to be the series finale. When Lansbury decided at the last moment to come back after all (with much prodding from CBS, which desperately needed the hit show to stay on), Fischer had to rewrite the entire script. For the final episode of the seventh season, Fischer (on his way out the door; Lansbury had been promised the job of executive producer after a transition year under David Moessinger, whom she also didn't like) had two versions of the last scene filmed: one where Jessica nods in agreement to Harry McGraw's "And that's all she wrote" and one where she winks at the audience, saying she'll come back.
Jessica's middle name is Beatrice, a link to Angela Lansbury's best friend (and Mame co-star) Beatrice Arthur. Her late husband was named "Frank", another reference to Bea, who's birth name was "Bernice Frankel".
Another recurring character was Michael Hagarty (as played by Len Cariou), who was an undercover agent, who met up with Jessica at many different locales all over the world. Len Cariou also starred with Angela Lansbury on Broadway as part of the original cast in "Sweeney Todd".
Angela Lansbury was the fourth choice to play Jessica Fletcher. Jean Stapleton was offered the part but turned it down, as did Doris Day.
The show's title is a reference to the Miss Marple mystery Murder She Said (1961), which was based on a novel by Agatha Christie.
When Tom Bosley left the series, his absence was explained by having Sheriff Tupper retire from the position and move to Kentucky to live near his family.
Grady moved in with Jessica and her husband Frank after Grady's parents, Frank's brother and his wife, were killed in an automobile accident.
Before she met and married her late husband, Frank, Jessica was studying to become a journalist.
One of Producer Peter S. Fischer's favorite movie stars was Doris Day. The MSW crew usually pitched who they "wished" could be cast in a featured guest spot to the two Producers, Peter Fischer and Bob O'Neill. During the 1991-92 season, Doris Day was approached with an offer for a guest role. Interested, Day's response implied that she would spend two weeks away from Carmel Valley to film an episode. Then came Day's terms for her contract including her son receiving a "producer credit with pay" for her guest shot. Universal-MCA, CBS, and the producers had agreed upon her price to appear, but refused to agree with her contract clause for her son's credit/pay while she participated in the filming.
Jessica had four brothers and sisters. However, the only one that was seen was her brother Marshall, who was a doctor. Another brother, Martin, was also mentioned but never seen.
Jessica's maiden name was McGill, taken from Angela Lansbury's real-life mother, Moyna McGill.
Jessica Fletcher lived at 698 Candelwood, Cabot Cove, Maine.
Besides Dennis Stanton, other recurring characters that helped Jessica solve the various murders she encountered were private investigators Harry McGraw and Charlie Garrett (played by Jerry Orbach and Wayne Rogers, respectively), British intelligence agent Michael Haggerty (played by Len Cariou) and N.Y.P.D detective Lt. Artie Gelber (played by Herb Edelman). However, the only one of these characters to be spun off onto his own series was Harry McGraw in the short lived series titled, appropriately enough, The Law and Harry McGraw (1987).
The fictional "Cabot Cove" Maine setting for "Murder, She Wrote" is an actual harbor inlet in the town of Kennebunkport, Maine. The "Cabot Cove" is located on a main road leading from the township, with a bridge over the small inlet bay. Local motor-hotels and lobster-crab shack restaurants are nearby the cove, a short walk from the main village. The pilot episode town exteriors were filmed in Mendocino, California; subsequently, filming each season with a two hour (sometimes split airing as a two parter) show. The main (in town) Victorian mansion stood in for Jessica's house. The exterior Sheriff Station was the local Rangers Station. In 1992, this exterior was exchanged using a coastal bluff building on the main frontal street. Several small business shops were filmed for the exteriors of a beauty salon, a newspaper office, etc., with the "Hill House Hotel" utilizing the Mendocino town's largest hotel's exterior, grounds, parking, and interior lobby/check-in desk. The beach and bluff area filmed mainly for specific episodes. The Harbor of Fort Bragg was filmed for the docks, exterior pub/bar dressing decorated wharf buildings; interior restaurants above the harbor were also filmed as "Cabot Cove" sights. At Universal Studios' back lot, the Jaws Lake attraction was filmed as the exterior village. Actually, the show maintained the studio attraction's exterior buildings until cancellation in 1996, afterwards, falling into dis-repair. The exterior Victorian "Best Little Whorehouse" set, relocated from stage 12 feature filming, to a hill area on the back lot was a stand in for the Mendocino Victorian Jessica's house. The interiors of this house were filmed, redressed, repainted, redecorated, for many of the episodes for other story scenarios.
Sheriff Metzger's wife Adelle was often talked about but was never seen.
Many viewers (and Angela Lansbury herself) believed that the move of the venerable show from Sunday to Thursday for the twelfth season was a deliberate plan by CBS programming chief Leslie Moonves to kill it. After all, it was going up against "Friends," which was about to get super-show status. But everything Moonves tried in the Sunday slot failed so badly that he wound up double-running "Murder, She Wrote" on Thursdays and Sundays for the last few weeks of the regular season and then for a summer of reruns. He had to place "Touched by an Angel" in the time slot the following fall to get a decent audience. The final season alludes to this with episodes tellingly titled "Murder Among Friends" (featuring the ensemble cast of hit TV series "Buds") and "Death By Demographics" - the final regular edition before the show switched to TV Movies.
Angela Lansbury also played Jessica's look-alike cousin Emma, who was a performer on the London stage.
{Jack and Bill (#6.5)}_ and {Murder -- According to Maggie (#6.17)}_ are apparently pilots for other shows that were broadcast as "Murder She Wrote" episodes, apparently in an attempt to create a spin-off. The only successful spin off of this series was The Law and Harry McGraw (1987).
The title and credits were written using the Art Gothic font.
The name of Jessica's first novel was "The Corpse Danced at Midnight".
On several episodes, Angela Lansbury, as Jessica, would just appear briefly at the beginning to introduce that week's episode and many of those episodes would feature Keith Michell as Jessica's friend Dennis Stanton.
As part of producing the series, Peter Fischer developed characters and scenarios within the "MSW" format storyline, with the premise for specific "characters" leading off into another network weekly series. In 1989, two shows, (6.3) "The Grand Old Lady" (air-8 Oct 89) and (6.5) "Jack and Bill" (air-29 Oct 89) were potential film series pilots, with Angela introducing each of the shows narrative. The two pilots were filmed at the end of the fifth season - June, 1989, after Angela and Peter Shaw had departed for their summer break. Angela's filming for each of the new show's preliminary introductions and last line wrap up, were filmed at the start of the new 1989-90 season, filming the intros in September, 1989. The "Grand Old Lady" was filmed aboard the Queen Mary (Hotel) in Long Beach, with a 1947 era mystery-murder scenario. The leading investigator and his side kick intended as the basis for another mystery show spin off, establishing a 1947-50 period environment. The contemporary "Jack and Bill" pilot involved two detectives with a bright pink (dyed) standard poodle, aiding in sniffing out the criminals. Neither pilot was picked by CBS TV, but the two shows were offered, independently, to both ABC, and then NBC, after CBS answered "no thanks". What was unusual with Lansbury's contract with CBS, Angela's "Corymore Production" company had an option for a "movie of the week" (two hour) which could be filmed during her yearly summer hiatus. She could pick her property, cast and crew the project, producing the MOW, each year the series had been contracted. Angela and Peter Shaw's "Corymore Productions" never exercised the MOW deal option. When CBS and Les Moonvies axed the Universal-MCA MSW series, the four MSW MOW projects were offered as a contractual settlement. The Jerry Herman "Mrs. Santa Claus" musical "1996 Christmas Special MOW" was the whip cream cherry on top agreement to finalize the cancellation contract. Peter Fisher cut his ties with Universal-MCA and CBS TV when he departed the MSW series in June, 1992.
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The episode "Mr. Penroy's Vacation" shares several plot points with "Arsenic and Old Lace." At one point, Helen says to Lillian "Not my best lace tablecloth!"
Jessica's Manhattan phone number is 212-191-1498.
Jessica's late husband Frank was a bomber pilot in Korea.
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Nine episodes and exteriors for numerous others were shot in Mendocino, California, including the exterior of Jessica Fletcher's house.
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The word "murder" appears in the titles of 48 episodes.
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In season 1 episode four the chiefs apartment was also the apartment in the Alfred Hitchcock movie Vertigo
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Jessica reveals to Mike Hernandez, that the 'B' in J.B. Fletcher is her middle name Beatrice.
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Prior to creating this show, producers Peter S. Fischer, Richard Levinson, and William Link produced Ellery Queen (1975), which used an almost identical format: a baffling murder solved by a mystery writer, with a mixture of old stars, veteran character actors, and young newcomers playing the suspects.
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Angela Lansbury and Tom Bosley (Sheriff Amos Tupper) appeared as husband and wife in "The World of Henry Orient".
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Although set on the East Coast of America, Jessica's home in Cabot Cove, Maine, was filmed on the West Coast, in Mendocino, California, and the Universal Studios back-lot in Los Angeles. The location filming in Mendocino utilized the Blair House Inn Bed And Breakfast as the exterior of Jessica Fletcher's house. It was built in 1888 for Elisha Blair and his family by Oliver Johnson, a local builder. Due to the amount of filming that took place at the location for the series, a VIP room was renamed as Angela's Suite and a replica of Jessica's bike is in the garden. Many other locations purporting to be in New England were filmed in Oregon and Northern California. Other productions filmed in Mendocino include: East Of Eden, Karate Kid 3 and Forever Young.
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The population of Cabot Cove Maine is 3650.
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Angela Lansbury appeared with Hurd Hatfield in her third film "The Picture of Dorian Grey". He guest starred in three episodes of "Murder, She Wrote".
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The title is meant to evoke and be a rift on Agatha Christie 's "Murder, She Said". Fletcher herself is in many ways a combination of Agatha Christie and Miss Marple, and the show is meant to evoke an Agatha Christie murder mystery type feeling. It's no coincidence that Angela Lansbury was tapped by producers to play this character as she starred as Miss Marple in Agatha Christie's " The Mirror Crack'd" as well as Agatha Christie's "Death on the Nile."
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Jean Stapleton was approached about playing this role, but she declined.
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S2 E4 "School for Scandal" While Jessica hears Jocelyn's confession, we see a sketch of a ballerina on the wall who's hands are clasped together, but the arms are on backwards. It could be argued that the torso is also backwards.
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After starring in Broadway's "Mame" together, Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur both became huge tv stars, Angela Lansbury on "Murder She Wrote" and Bea Arthur on "Maude".
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