Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Broadway Malady 

Former Hollywood star Rita Bristol and her daughter Patti are about to open in a big new Broadway musical, until Patti is gunned down in a bizarre robbery attempt.


Hy Averback


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 3 more credits »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Milton Berle ... Lew Feldman
Vivian Blaine ... Rita Bristol
Elaine Giftos ... Lonnie Valerian
Gregg Henry ... Barry Bristol
Michael Horton ... Grady Fletcher
Lorna Luft ... Patti Bristol
Robert Morse ... Marc Faber
Patrick O'Neal ... Si Parrish
Gregory Sierra ... NYPD Det. Sgt. Moreno
Barbara Whinnery ... Gretchen Pashko
Sharee Gregory ... Kate Metcalf
Ed Bakey Ed Bakey ... Monsignor Kelly
Roberto Roman Roberto Roman ... Taki
Johnny Seven ... Man


Grady Fletcher invites Aunt Jessica to be his guest at a Broadway show he's doing the bookkeeping for, and meet both his girlfriend and has-been movie star Rita Bristol, whose prima donna attitude endangers the show that was to be her comeback, and the launch of daughter Patti Bristol. They all dine with others including son Barry Bristol, director Marc Faber and banker Si Parrish, the principal investor. On the way home, Patti is shot in the spine by street mugger Manny Farkus, who gets a fatal bullet from Barry. To Barry's surprise, the show isn't canceled, but director Marc Faber has L.A. star Lonnie Valerian flown in to take over recovering-Patti's part. N.Y.P.D. Detective Sergeant Moreno didn't feel the need for investigating further, confident he had his shooter, but Jessica digs into the past and present of the Bristol family, the members of the play's production, and the mugger who she recognizes as unemployed actor Morley Farmer and some New York street witnesses. Written by KGF Vissers/edited by canadazbest

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

13 January 1985 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


At the beginning of Murder, She Wrote: Broadway Malady (1985), 63 year old Rita Bristol is watching the projected black and white movie that she says is Moon Over Rio. That movie's scene is actually from the technicolor movie Three Little Girls in Blue (1946), and 24 year old Vivian Blaine, wearing a light blue dress, is singing "Somewhere in the Night" (Music by Josef Myrow, Lyrics by Mack Gordon). Although the movie was not released until September 1946, in April 1946 25 year old Betty Jane Rhodes also recorded Somewhere in the Night. See more »


While talking to the Lew Feldman ( Milton Berle ), Jessica makes an off-hand remark, and Lew asks her to repeat it. She replies, "Oh, I was just talking out loud." Clearly she means "I was just thinking out loud." See more »


[first lines]
[Rita is watching an old movie when Rita walks in]
Patti Bristol: [laughs] "Holiday in San Jose", right?
Rita Bristol: "Moon Over Rio". And look at me.
Rita Bristol: Oh, I was always a pushover for that bilge we cranked out, even while we were doing it. Were we ever that innocent?
See more »


Features Three Little Girls in Blue (1946) See more »


Thanks, But I've Been There
Performed by Lorna Luft
See more »

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User Reviews

"Dispel All the Gangsters at Forty-Second Street"
13 September 2009 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

This episode marks the swan song appearance of 1940's film actress and singer Vivian Blaine, who continued her career in television during the 1950's and beyond.

Grady Fletcher (Michael Horton) has one of his less-visible among his twelve appearances in this series, as Bookkeeper to an upcoming Broadway show, "Always April." He insists upon his Aunt Jessica Fletcher's (Angela Lansbury) visiting the troupe at the request of its major star, Rita Bristol, an avid fan of J.B. Fletcher Mysteries. Grady introduces Aunt Jessica to Understudy Kate Metcalf (Sharee Gregory), for whom he harbors a special eye.

Mother and daughter performing team, Rita Bristol (Vivian Blaine) and Patti Bristol (Lorna Luft) reminisce over Rita's vintage film, as son/brother Barry Bristol (Gregg Henry) enters to announce their return to the theatre with the tentative "Always April."

The memory which Barry interrupts displays a televised clip by Miss Blaine, performing "Somewhere in the Night" from the 1946 Twentieth Century-Fox Film "Three Little Girls in Blue," which her character attributes to a fictional film, "Moon over Rio."

But at the theatre, Director Marc Faber (Robert Morse) continuously expresses disapproval of Rita and Patti's rehearsal displays, before an apologetic Patti, a disagreeable Rita, and a cast and crew expressing bewilderment over Marc's behavior.

A reception dinner, at which Rita Bristol and company meet Jessica, is also attended by Patti and Barry Bristol, Grady Fletcher, Kate Metcalf, Mark Faber, Investor Si Parrish (Patrick O'Neal), and playwrights Jimmy Finley (Bob Gorman) and Carlin Nash (Bert Hinchman).

Afterwards, outside the theatre, there is commotion leading to an incident with a "blind" performer, Monsignor Kelly (Ed Bakey), a card dealer, Taki (Roberto Roman) and a would-be mugger, Manny Farkus / Morley Farmer (Johnny Seven).

This lands a patient into the hospital, under the care of Doctor Peter Weber (Edson Stroll), and an investigation by NYPD Detective Sergeatn Moreno (Gregory Sierra) with NYPD Detective Captain (Dante D'Andre) on hand, but Jessica questions Moreno's dismissal of the case and the fact that he has no time to question obvious witnesses from the streets.

So, Jessica then undertakes an ambitious investigation of her own, to question card dealer Veronica (Irma García), to locate Taki, to discover the dual identity of Manny Farkus / Morley Farmer, to track down his former associate Lew Feldman (Milton Berle), and his landlady Gretchen Pashko (Barbara Whinnery) for additional information.

In the meantime, Director Marc Faber hires Hollywood actress Lonnie Valerian (Elaine Giftos) to add life to the faltering rehearsals, to the dismay of several cast members, amid two shootings, an alcohol-induced overdose and a natural gas leak, creating a "Broadway Malady" for certain.

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