While on a flight to London, a wealthy woman's chauffeur dies suddenly, and when the priceless necklace he was carrying turns up missing, it becomes a case of murder.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Mrs. Metcalf
Kay Davis
Gunnar Globle (as Pat Harrington)
Errol Pogson
Sonny Greer
Louis Metcalf
Fred Jenkins
John S. Ragin ...
Dr. Cliff Strayhorn
Chris Robinson ...
Capt. Whetsel
John Sukahara
Otto Hardwick (as Robert Walker)
Mark Venturini ...
Leon Bigard
Lia Sargent ...
Elizabeth Welch


During a first class flight to London where Hollywood producer Gunnar Globle makes Jessica proofread a script to stop him yapping, actress Sonny Greer's bodyguard-driver-lover Leon Bigard dies, poisoned. Sonny cries murder as soon as she notices his precious cargo, the $2,000,000 empress diamond necklace, is stolen; it's found in the bag of stewardess Kay Davis, who switched flight last minute, but jeweler John Sukahara notices it's paste, Sonny denies it could be a security decoy. Together with Scotland Yard's paper-pusher inspector Errol Pogson on board, Jessica examines the passengers. She finally finds the real one, but disbelieves the thief's murder confession on surprising grounds... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

18 January 1987 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Twelve of the characters have the last names of musicians, singers or arrangers who worked for Duke Ellington: Louis Metcalf (Gene Nelson) and his wife (Mary Jo Catlett), Kay Davis (Robin Dearden), Sonny Greer (Kate Mulgrew), Fred Jenkins (Andrew Parks), Dr. Cliff Strayhorn (John S. Ragin), Captain Whetsel (Chris Robinson), Otto Hardwick (Robert Walker, Jr.), Leon Bigard (Mark Venturini), Carney (Charles Hoyes), Mr. Miley (Don Maharry) and his wife (Crystal Jenious). Some (Louis Metcalf, Kay Davis, Sonny Greer, Fred Jenkins and Otto Hardwick) also have the same first names as their Ellingtonian counterparts, though the Sonny Greer who worked for Ellington - his first drummer - was a man. See more »


As the airplane is coming in to land at Heathrow, there is an establishing shot of the wheels down and in the background there are cars traveling on the British motorway system. Except the cars are driving on the wrong side of the road. See more »


Features The Blues Brothers (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

Fortunate Misfortunes and Other Airborne Calamities
20 January 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This episode marks the final acting appearance by Classic actor, singer, dancer and director Gene Nelson, who has been performing in film and on television since 1939, and also the last appearance for Charles Davis, who has been acting since 1951.

As passengers begin to board a trans-Altantic flight from Boston, Massachusetts to London, UK, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) meets several, including Gunnar Globle (Pat Harrington Jr.), who attempts to garner an audience with her to consult him about a manuscript which he has written, as he assumes an airline seat beside Jessica.

Otto Hardwick (Robert Walker Jr.) claims that he suffers from allergies to smoke, and so he exchanges seats to ride beside Errol Pogson (David Hemmings), who introduces himself to Jessica as a Scotland Yard Investigator.

Louis Metcalf (Gene Nelson) and Mrs. Metcalf (Mary Jo Catlett) conduct themselves quietly near the rear of the first class compartment, they sharing a secret which they intend to keep between them.

Celebrity actress Sonny Greer (Kate Mulgrew) boards with her bodyguard, Leon Bigard (Mark Venturini), who expresses discomfort in confined spaces especially toward an overnight flight across the Atlantic. But he's to guard her and her valuable diamond necklace, while she roams freely from deck to deck.

Airline staff includes Captain Whetsel (Chris Robinson) and flight attendants Kay Davis (Robin Dearden) and Elizabeth Welsh (Lia Sargent). Jessica perceives Kay's preoccupation with outside concerns as Kay serves Jessica's meal, selected from a rather full menu, along with an accompanying wine list, and so Jessica must remind her which wine goes with which type of entrée.

Other passengers include Fred Jenkins (Andrew Parks), Carney (Charles Hoyes), Blanton (Vince Howard), Mr. Stegmeyer (Charles Davis), and Doctor Cliff Strayhorn (John S. Ragin), who comes in handy when someone is murdered across the aisle from Jessica, and John Sukahara (James Shigeta), whose jewelry expertise comes in handy to identify the recovered stolen diamond necklace as imitation glass.

With the assistance of the crew and Otto Hardwick, who expresses romantic notions in Jessica's direction, Jessica reviews ticket booking records to discover which passengers and crew members have made last-minute reservations, when it is discovered that the two flight attendants have been seeing the same pilot in Paris.

When Jessica finally names an alleged perpetrator, the suspect confesses to the theft and the murder, and is placed in the custody of Otto Hardwick.

But as Jessica ponders the confession, she realizes a different theory and quickly places an air-to-ground telephone call to London, whispering, "Time is of the essence," as "The Corpse Flew First Class."

The cast is rounded out by Don Maharry as Mr. Miley, Crystal Jenious as Mrs. Miley, Ron Barker as The British Chief, Ian Howard as Security Man, Ron Southart as Bobby, Jim Malinda as Photographer, John Straightley as Customs Man, and Gerald York as Man on Phone.

This episode also represents the first acting credit each for Ian Howard, Don Maharry, and the most recent acting credit for Ron Southart, as well as the first of two "MSW" guest roles each for James Shigeta, Robert Walker Jr., the second of two each for Crystal Jenious, Andrew Parks, Ron Southart, John Straightley, the first of three each for Robin Dearden, Charles Hoyes, the second of three for Gerald York, the first of four for Kate Mulgrew, the second of four for Pat Harrington Jr., and the second of five "MSW" performances for Vince Howard.

In addition to Charles Davis and Gene Nelson, Mark Venturini, acting in a brief 10-year career since 1985, and David Hemmings, acting since 1954, and directing since 1972, including the next "MSW" episode, (#3.13), have unfortunately since passed.

5 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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