Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Old Habits Die Hard 

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Jessica visits a convent to see a former sorority sister and winds up searching for a nun's killer.


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 2 more credits »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Eileen Brennan ... Marian Simpson
Cindy Fisher ... Nancy Bates
Clu Gulager ... Ray Carter
Evelyn Keyes ... Sister Emily
Mark Keyloun ... Mike Phelps
Ed Nelson ... Mayor Albert Simpson
Scott Paulin ... Dr. Marshall
Jane Powell ... Rev. Mother Claire
Robert Prosky ... Bishop Patrick Shea
Audrey Totter ... Sister Paul
Sherri Stoner Sherri Stoner ... Sarah Martino
Wendy Brainard Wendy Brainard ... Amy
Fay DeWitt ... Sister Mary-Margaret
Carol Swarbrick Carol Swarbrick ... Sister Margaret-Marie


Mike Phelps refuses to accept his fiancée, Sarah Martino, leaving him to enter the Immaculate Heart nunnery which runs a girls school, where Jessica takes a retreat, invited by a former sorority sister, now Reverend Mother Claire. After benefactors Mayor Albert Simpson and wife, Marian, learned about Ray Carter trying to find a dying rich man's 15 years ago estranged daughter, convent record keeper Sister Emily is found dead at her desk from, according to a hand-written note, suicide by pills, which Claire refuses to believe although the convent was locked up all night. Although Bishop Patrick Shea is prepared to let the police close the case, Jessica and the Reverend Mother are not convinced it was suicide. After finding out the pills dose wasn't even lethal, the note was a teaching aid, and several secrets, Jessica learns about a secretly reopened old underground railroad route, snoops on and devises a crafty trap. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

11 October 1987 (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?


This was Audrey Totter's final acting role before her death on December 12, 2013 at the age of 95. See more »


The Celtic Cross is not a Crucifiix; Crucifixes have the body of Christ on the cross. See more »


[last lines]
Jessica Fletcher: Bishop Shea, we couldn't have done it without your blessing.
Bishop Patrick Shea: Well, yes, that- that's true, isn't it? Oh. There's one more thing that you can do for me before you go.
Jessica Fletcher: Oh, what's that?
Bishop Patrick Shea: Try to impress on your dear old friend here the obligation of obedience... She is a troublemaker, you know.
Jessica Fletcher: I'm afraid that is *your* problem, and a delightful one you're going to have to deal with for a long, long, time.
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User Reviews

Even a Sanctuary from Earthly Vice May Not Be a Sanctuary from Murder
3 November 2009 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

This episode marks the most recent appearance to date for Audrey Totter, who has been acting in film and on television since 1945, and also the recent appearance thus far for Cindy Fisher, who began her acting career in 1974. This presents one of the last appearances by Evelyn Keyes, who has since passed. Robert Prosky has also since passed.

Reverend Mother Claire (Jane Powell) invites her childhood friend Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) to a dedication service for a new office at the historic Immaculate Heart Convent and girls' orphanage school, in Bergen Falls, Louisiana, which would be situated in the southeastern section of the state, as the Reverend Mother Superior notes its position "east of the Mississippi" River.

Jessica meets several of the staff members at Immaculate Heart Convent, as elderly Sister Emily (Evelyn Keyes), whose physical ailments require the use of prescription Methylidene, and young Sister Sarah Martino (Sherri Stoner), who is torn between taking her final vows and her interest in former fiancé Mike Phelps (Mark Keyloun), who delivers orders from Lakeside Pharmacy to the convent school.

Bishop Patrick Shea (Robert Prosky) oversees the diocese at which Immaculate Heart Convent is situated, and visits to prepare for its office dedication. Marian Simpson (Eileen Brennan), wife of the ever-campaigning Mayor Albert Simpson (Ed Nelson), an alumni of the orphanage school, also serves on the dedication planning committee.

As Jessica and Marian await Mother Claire's meeting with the Bishop to conclude, Private Investigator Ray Carter (Clu Gulager) arrives from Florida to follow a lead regarding the long-lost daughter of a dying client, who seeks reconciliation with his child, who may have attended the convent school fifteen years prior. He is sent to Sister Emily's classroom, to leave a photograph.

Nancy Bates (Cindy Fisher), a former Immaculate Heart ward, who had been sent off to a Shreveport prison to pay for a crime reported by the nuns, is turned away at the door, but manages to sneak into the hidden corridors of this historic institution, which had once shielded runaway slaves in the years before the U.S. Civil War of the 1860's.

Doctor Marshall (Scott Paulin), also pays a call to the convent, to deliver a prescription, and to explain his purpose for substituting for the regular physician on call at the convent.

But after a body is discovered that night, resulting from a seeming suicide, various theories begin to unfold as to possible causes of death, apparently not murder leading the polls, which is rare in this series, until, of course, it is proved as murder.

Reverend Mother Claire, Bishop Patrick Shea and an unseen Sheriff eventually come around to Jessica's way of thinking, to rally to her cause of sorting through a roster of suspects to figure a way to expose the perpetrator, as "Old Habits Die Hard."

The cast is rounded out by Amy (Wendy Brainard), a frightened orphan, and Immaculate Heart staff members Sister Mary-Margaret (Fay DeWitt), Sister Margaret-Mary (M'el Dowd), Sister Margaret-Marie (Carol Swarbrick), Sister Anne (Hunter Mackenzie Austin), Sister Paul (Audrey Totter) and Nun (Linda Harmon).

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