Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Death Takes a Curtain Call 

Two Soviet ballet dancers on tour in the States are wanted following the murder of a man backstage during their debut performance.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Irina Katsa
FBI Agent O'Farrell
Major Anatole Karzof
George De La Pena ...
Alexander Masurov (as George De La Peña)
Leo Peterson
James Carroll Jordan ...
Skip Fleming
Vicki Kriegler ...
Natalia Masurov
Paul Rudd ...
Palmer Eddington
Jessica Nelson ...
Velma Rodecker
Dewey Johnson (as Courtney Burr)
Serge Berensky (as Anthony DeLongis)


Invited by Leo Peterson, a former dancer who defected long ago, Jessica attends a Boston performance of the famous Soviet Russian Rostoff ballet. She guesses something is up when Leo gets a program from the bottom of the pile with a code; after the performance they are joined in his car by defecting star dancers Alexander and Natalia Masurov but hear on the radio that KGB security agent Serge Berensky has been found dagger-murdered in their dressing room, so Jessica gives them short-term sanctuary at her home while she snoops. KGB Major Anatole Karzof declares to be a fan of her books and joins her, defending he thesis the defectors did it, while FBI Agents O'Farrell and Dewey Johnson conduct the official investigation. She discovers there is more... Written by KGF Vissers

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Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

16 December 1984 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was Claude Akins's final appearance as Ethan. See more »

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User Reviews

Rushing Delivery for Russian Defectors
10 January 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

And now we're up to the first "Murder, She Wrote" episode centering around the theme of espionage and international intrigue, this produced during the age of Russia's Soviet rule, when would-be defectors sought asylum outside the Iron Curtain Bloc nations.

When Leo Peterson (Hurd Hatfield) invites old friend Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) to a Boston performance of a Russian ballet, she travels into Massachusetts, without knowing the resulting number of visitors who would accompany her or follow her back into Maine.

Nagy (Adam Gregor) greets Leo and Jessica at the theatre, handing them programs, Jessica's from the top, and Leo's from the bottom, his containing a secret message, which causes him to excuse himself from the seating area long enough to meet Skip Fleming (James Carroll Jordan) backstage, and to unlock a window leading onto the fire escape, before returning to accompany Jessica for the performance, or at least part of it....

Alexander Masurov (George De La Pena) serves as male ballet dancer, with six ballerina's at his side, including the brunette Natalia Masurov (Vicki Kriegler) and the blonde Irina Katsa (Kerry Armstrong), in symmetrical formation.

Velma Rodecker (Jessica Nelson), an anti-Communist protester, sneaks through the open window and onto center stage, to interrupt the program with her boisterous political message, when a near riot erupts, and Leo ushers Jessica from the theatre and into an awaiting limousine in the parking area, this chauffeured by Alexander Masurov, with Natalia Masurov at his side, they disguised as servants, thus whisking Jessica and Leo from Boston, to allude Soviet authorities.

Major Anatole Karzof (William Conrad), a KGB agent, arrives at the theatre to investigate the defection, along with Sergeant Kevin Hogan (Read Morgan), and soon FBI Agent O'Farrell (Dane Clark) and FBI Agent Dewey Johnson (Patrick Thomas), by which time a body is discovered in the dressing room.

So, now how to protect the defectors when murder compounds their difficulties? The ever-resourceful Jessica must first figure how to shelter Leo, Alexander and Natalia from spies and authorities alike, and then to try to solve the murder from her long-distance vantage point of Cabot Cove.

Jessica finds it best to confide in Captain Ethan Cragg (Claude Akins), to help to blend Alexander and his thick Russian accent into their New England community, and so Ethan finds Alexander an assistantship position with fellow fisherman Palmer Eddington (Paul Rudd), and even the sharp and observant Sheriff Amos Tupper (Tom Bosley) is initially unable to determine that Alexander is anything but a new Cabot Cove resident.

But soon Cabot Cove and, particularly, Jessica's residence, becomes humming with visitors, in search of Alexander and Natalia. When Serge Berensky (Anthony De Longis) enters under the guise of a telephone repairman, Jessica politely directs him toward the telephone which she secretly deems most optimal to plant the bugging device, which he ultimately uses to transmit signals to a sailboat in the harbor, complete with radio equipment to communicate with the KGB agents.

When Major Anatole Karzof arrives to give the Fletcher residence the once-over, Jessica complies, as Leo and the others remain in sanctuary.

And after watching a Boston television news report, with Steve Arvin as TV Reporter, featuring the ballet scene, Jessica suddenly realizes whodunit, as "Death Takes a Curtain Call." This episode marks the most recent acting roles to date each by Vicki Kriegler and Steve Arvin, the first of two "MSW" performances for Dane Clark, the first of three guest starring roles for Hurd Hatfield, the first of four appearances for James Carroll Jordan, and fourth and final "MSW" appearance of Claude Akins in his roles as Cabot Cove fisherman, Captain Ethan Cragg.

Claude Akins, acting since 1953, Dane Clark, acting since 1940, William Conrad, acting since 1958, and Hurd Hatfield, acting since, 1944, have since passed.

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