Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Death Stalks the Big Top: Part 1 

When Jessica's niece receives a silver Leprechaun from someone who has been presumed dead for years, Jessica decides to hunt down the mysterious gift giver from beyond the grave.


Seymour Robbie


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 5 more credits »




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Martin Balsam ... Edgar Carmody
Jackie Cooper ... Carl Schulman / Neil Fletcher
Alex Cord ... Preston Bartholomew
Courteney Cox ... Carol Bannister
Ronny Cox ... Mayor Powers
Joey Cramer ... Charlie McCallum
Laraine Day ... Constance Fletcher
Greg Evigan ... Brad Kaneally
Florence Henderson ... Maria Morgana
Gregg Henry ... Sheriff Lynn Childs
Charles Napier ... Hank Sutter
Lee Purcell ... Maylene Sutter
Mark Shera ... Raymond Carmody
Pamela Susan Shoop ... Katie McCallum


Favorite aunt Jessica arrives three days before the society wedding of Carol Bannister, who is convinced the silver leprechaun she receives among the wedding gifts is from her grandfather, Jessica's late husband Frank's brother Neil Fletcher, who is presumed dead. When the antiques salesman sort of recognizes his picture as the out of town buyer, Jessica guesses right that he may be among Edgar Carmody's family circus which was in town then, and goes snooping there. She is on Neil's trail, as he works there as a clown under the name Carl Schulman, as Edgar knows. Neil/Carl ran but is arrested after unpopular Hank Sutter, who harassed fellow artist Katie McCallum and bullied her teenage son Charlie, is found dead near, however not trampled by, elephants as none has a blood-stained foot, but beaten to death instead. Neil explains why he staged his own death to escape his loveless marriage. Jessica is determined to prove her brother-in-law's innocence, investigating the other circus ... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

28 September 1986 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Carl is putting on his clown makeup, a close-up shows most of his right cheek covered in clown white. In the next shot, his cheek is clean and he starts applying make-up to it again. See more »


Maria Morgana: Love and loyalty. How admirable. A sentiment that certainly has its place... embroidered on a throw pillow.
See more »


Murder She Wrote Theme
Written by John Addison
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User Reviews

A leprechaun wedding gift opens a bag of Circus tricks.
26 October 2017 | by Sleepin_DragonSee all my reviews

Jessica arrives at the family home of her beautiful niece Carol Bannister, a girl haunted by the death of her beloved grandfather, Jessica's brother in law Frank Fletcher. As the pair talk Carol receives a wedding gift, a small leprechaun, a gift Frank had promised Carol for her wedding. Jessica, convinced he's alive tracks Frank to a circus, where he's arrested for the murder of Hank Sutter, a member of the circus community and a bully.

The first installment of an excellent two part serial. The additional screen time allows great development of the characters, and a wider story. It's cleverly crafted, providing a quality start to Series 3. Lansbury is superb, her disguise to fool Maylene and find Frank is really funny. She is always particularly good, but each time she recounts memories of Frank she shines that bit brighter.

Courtney Cox has quite a small part, but she's great as niece Carol. I would love to see Jessica's family tree! Charles Napier is arguably the standout, making Hank utterly loathsome, the obvious candidate for murder. I would argue this is a more gritty episode then what's gone before, ore serious in tone, that's no bad thing.

Great episode. 9/10

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