Murder, She Wrote: Season 7, Episode 16

From the Horse's Mouth (24 Feb. 1991)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Crime | Drama
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A clash between Kentucky Thoroughbred breeders leads to murder.

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Title: From the Horse's Mouth (24 Feb 1991)

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
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Judge Harley (as Melvin M. Belli)
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Derek Padley
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Diana Sterling
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Sheriff Tyrone McKenna
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Emmaline Bristow
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Randolph Sterling
Tricia O'Neil ...
Althea Mayberry
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Tod Sterling
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Dr. Christie Morgan (as Debra Sandland)
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Lamar Morgan
Helena Carroll ...
Martha Jane Stokes
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Justin King
Michael Ayr ...
Attorney Mark Mason
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Storyline

Jessica visits her Kentucky friends' thoroughbred breeding ranch. Her host, Randolph Sterling's super stud King Paragon's offspring is disputed by neighbor Lamar Morgan. She enlists dodgy PI friend, Harry McGraw, to earn back the losing bet he put in through her by helping to investigate. When Lamar is found dead, sheriff Tyrone McKenna refuses their help. However Jessica keeps sleuthing family, business and pedigree history, all of which meet at the mysteriously escaped stud's paddock, where the body was found. Written by KGF Vissers

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24 February 1991 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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The title refers to the common expression "straight from the horse's mouth" which means the information came from the highest authority and originated from those interested in information on horse races. See more »

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Stablizing the Track Record
12 January 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Between the final two "MSW" series "Bookend" episodes (both featuring Dennis Stanton and company), Jessica conducts a five chapter block, leading her from and to Cabot Cove via Texas, Missouri and Kentucky. "From the Horse's Mouth" represents the only "MSW" episode set in the Commonwealth of Kentucky although the series includes Kentuckians in the form of Sheriff Amos Tupper and his kinfolk.

In addition to Jessica's travels and murders along each journey, we may also observe various recurring themes throughout this series, such as widowed parents who sacrifice for their children, including widows whose young sons must become "the man of the house," widowers whose daughters "are too good" for their suitors, and widowers whose greedy children dispute wills and gold-diggers who try to enter his good graces.

Here, we find a variation of the theme, with wealthy horse breeding widowers opposing each other's operation, which their children seek to unite through marriage although the sister of the fiancé who's not good enough for his fiancée also opposes the gold-digger engaged to her father, and another Kentucky style feud rides on....

On one side of the stable fence rides Lamar Morgan (Gregory Walcott), the other the wealthy Randolph Sterling (Kevin McCarthy), who has acquired a British-bred prize stallion, which he intends to race in the upcoming Derby.

Lamar's daughter, Veternarian Doctor Christie Morgan (Debra Sandlund) tends to horses throughout the community of Peachtree, Kentucky, which also houses the Sterling estate and stables, plus her fiancé, Tod Sterling (John Allen Nelson) and his socialite sister, Diana Sterling (Patricia Charbonneau), who stands at odds with Althea Mayberry (Tricia O'Neil), the fiancée of Randolph, her father.

Derek Padley (Maxwell Caulfield), a groomer/jockey under Sterling employ, tends to the Thoroughbreds, which draw the attention of Justin King (James Bartz) and Attorney Mark Mason (Michael Ayr), who represent the interests of horse owners.

The ladies' club of Peachtree, including Emmaline Bristow (Nanette Fabray), Martha Jane Stokes (Helena Carroll) and Edie (Patricia Huston), get along well enough with the Morgan and Sterling families although many may consider Emmaline Bristow somewhat eccentric in style and manner. Plus, she claims to communicate with horses on a verbal basis.

It is into this "unstable" environment which Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) pays a visit to the Sterling household, she meeting the families and associates of Tod and Christie, and putting in a good word about young love to their feuding fathers, when who should pay a visit to the community but Jessica's long-time acquaintance from Boston, Harry McGraw (Jerry Orbach), on an assignment to investigate allegations that races are somehow fixed, by substituting a champion stallion for a Thoroughbred.

Soon enough, a body is discovered in the Sterling stables, and Sheriff Tyrone McKenna (Robert Donner) arrives to investigate, amid a gathering of "experts" who submit their theories as to the hows and whys of the murder.

Jessica and Harry again join forces as they discuss various possibilities with the Sheriff and suspects alike, such as the riding rod and stirrup used to bludgeon the victim, and traces of blood and shoe polish uncovered beneath the hay, indicating that the body had been moved, but why the shoe polish?

Judge Harley (Melvin Belli) is brought in to the final showdown, he deciding in Jessica's favor to permit Emmaline Bristow to question the sole witness, a stallion, to obtain valuable information "From the Horse's Mouth."

The cast is rounded out by Kathy Hartsell as Young Woman, and Richard Balin as Coroner.

This episode marks the last acting appearance by Melvin Belli, a real life Hollywood attorney to the stars, who, here, portrays a Kentucky judge. This also marks the first television acting credit by Kathy Hartsell, and the most recent television role to date by Gregory Walcott, who has been acting since 1952.

This also represents the first of two "MSW" roles for Debra Sandlund, the second of two each for Richard Balin, Maxwell Caulfield and Robert Donner, the second of three each for Kevin McCarthy and James Bartz, the third of three for Gregory Walcott, the fourth of five for Tricia O'Neil, and the fifth of six "MSW" guest appearances for Jerry Orbach, in his role as Boston P.I. Harry McGraw.

Patricia Huston, acting since 1958, Robert Donner, acting since 1959, Jerry Orbach, acting since 1961, and Melvin Belli, acting since 1968, have unfortunately since passed.


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