Murder, She Wrote: Season 1, Episode 15

Tough Guys Don't Die (24 Feb. 1985)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Crime | Drama
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While highly respected P.I. Archie Miles, who even teaches at the police academy, is working on the old Danbury scalpel murder case, involving judge Lambert, for Jessica's research, he is ... See full summary »



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Priscilla Daniels
John Furey ...
Larry King
Erin Carey (as Nancy Grahn)
Gavin Daniels
Gerald S. O'Loughlin ...
Ray Kravitz
Ernie Santini
Judge Lambert
Det. Lt. Starkey
Floyd Levine ...
Archie Miles
Margery Nelson ...
Alma Leonard
Rosanna Huffman ...
Connie Miles
Office Manager
Leora Cargill


While highly respected P.I. Archie Miles, who even teaches at the police academy, is working on the old Danbury scalpel murder case, involving judge Lambert, for Jessica's research, he is shot in his office. His rather shady, clumsier partner Harry McGraw contacts Jessica as Archie was working on only two other cases, about allegedly adulterous contractor Ernie Santini and editor Priscilla Daniels of Femininity Magazine, who suddenly backs down on her political ambitions. Detective Lieutenant Starkey confides into Jessica the police wouldn't mourn Harry getting rid of Archie's killer, anyhow, she snoops herself, then teams up with Harry... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis





Release Date:

24 February 1985 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was the first appearance of private investigator Harry McGraw, as played by Jerry Orbach. Of all of the recurring characters that helped Jessica, the McGraw character is the only one spun off into his own series. See more »

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User Reviews

Outlaws and Disorder Meet Harry McGraw
2 December 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Paul Winfield plays the Boston police officer in this episode, which introduces hapless, sometimes shady, often down-on-his-luck, wisecracking Boston Private Investigator Harry McGraw to his first of six "MSW" appearances. During "MSW" Season Four, Jerry Orbach continues the roll in the one and only "MSW" spin-off series, "The Law and Harry McGraw," broadcast during the 1987-88 Season, before he returns here for an additional three episodes. Jerry Orbach, acting on television and in film since 1955, and Paul Winfield, also acting since 1965, have since unfortunately passed.

"Tough Guys Don't Die" covers three New England communities, beginning in Cabot Cove, Maine, setting primarily in Boston, Massachusetts, and taking an excursion into Danbury, Vermont.

Researching a 25-year-old unsolved Danbury murder case, upon which she proposes to set a Mystery novel, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) hires a Boston-based private investigator to uncover unreported evidence, before she receives a late-evening visitor by the name of Harry McGraw (Jerry Orbach), who snoops around her Cabot Cove residence to give Jessica the once-over.

After Jessica and Harry share a confrontation, Harry explains that his private detective agency partner, whom Jessica has hired to investigate the cold case, has been iced in his own office, a tragedy which unleashes a chain of events connected with his three investigatory cases in process.

Jessica accompanies Harry to the Boston offices of Miles and McGraw, to meet with the remainder of the team, Receptionist (Jana Brown) and Bookkeeper Ray Kravitz (Gerald S. O'Loughlin), before conferring with Boston Police Detective Lieutenant Starkey (Paul Winfield), who tells Harry that P.I. Archie Miles was so respected by the law authorities that they would most likely look the other way should Harry find the opportunity to avenge the slaying of his investigative partner.

Jessica, fearing the worst, decides to investigate the three cases upon which Archie Miles has been working, considering that one of these may have led to his untimely demise, while attempting with her own crime-solving proclivity to prevent Harry from doing anything rash.

Case #1 centers around female magazine Executive Publisher Priscilla Daniels (Barbara Babcock), who aspires to public office by undertaking a political campaign based upon her stance to promote female rights. Priscilla arrives at Boston Airport from a campaign trip with companion Erin Carey (Nancy Lee Grahn), before returning to her office, to meet the inquisitive Jessica, who befriends her Private Secretary, Larry King (John Furey).

Gavin Daniels (John McMartin), the husband of Priscilla, supports her political aspirations, which, by the way, may be short-lived because Priscilla harbors a secret from her past, which may lead to political suicide should it be exposed. And Archie Miles may have uncovered the secret during the course of his investigation.

Case #2 involves a wife's suspicions that her hot-tempered husband, construction company owner Ernie Santini (Alex Rocco), has been stepping out on her because of unexplained meetings and evening appointments. She has hired Archie Miles to trail Ernie.

Case #3 focuses upon the 25-year-old Danbury murder investigation, which Jessica has hired Archie to assist in her researching.

During a fund-raising reception to which Priscilla Daniels has invited Jessica, she meets Judge Lambert (Fritz Weaver), who has also been involved in one of the three cases, unbeknownst to Jessica.

While Detective Lieutenant Starkey keeps tabs upon the Daniels, Harry McGraw decides to shadow Ernie Santini, and Jessica boards a bus for Danbury, Vermont. (For her second trip into Vemont in a future episode, Jessica also rides the bus from Cabot Cove; however, in a future trip into New Hampshire, she flies, perhaps because of the urgency of the matter at hand.)

In Danbury, Jessica attempts to garner information from uncooperative residents, as Connie Miles (Rosanna Huffman), Archie Miles (Floyd Levine), Alma Leonard (Margery Nelson), and Leora Cargill (Tina Lifford), before she, too, is trailed by a man in the shadows, who turns out to be Judge Lambert, who suggests that Jessica cease her snooping about the community.

Back in Boston, Priscilla Daniels must face the decision upon whether or not to resign her political campaign, and whether to confide in Gavin Daniels, while Jessica searches through Archie Miles' effects to discover a page missing from his files, while listening to a tape recording of his final moments, and now must act quickly before another murder occurs.

The cast is rounded out by Conrad Bachmann as Office Manager, and Steven Ameche as Musician at the Daniels' fund-raising reception.

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