Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Suspicion of Murder 

Dennis Stanton must prove his innocence when he is accused of murdering a flames estranged husband.


Vincent McEveety


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
Keith Michell ... Dennis Stanton
Susan Blakely ... Christina Hellinger
Sam Bottoms ... Joe Hellinger
Dennis Cole ... Ryan Donovan
James Sloyan ... Robert Butler
Robin Strand Robin Strand ... Danny Hellinger
Ken Swofford ... Lt. Catalano
Hallie Todd ... Rhoda Markowitz
Adam Silbar ... Clerk
Paul Keith ... Cashier
Ed Beechner Ed Beechner ... Policeman
Lenny Citrano ... Doorman
Robert Donavan ... First Man
Judy Kerr ... Housekeeper


At tennis star Ryan Donovan's retirement party Dennis Stanton begins an affair with socialite Christina Hellinger, who convinces him she's being beaten for wanting a divorce from Ben. SFPD Lieutenant detective Catalano refuses to act against Ben when his car hits Dennis and Christina's off the road. After Ben is found murdered, Dennis is arrested but escapes, determined to find out and prove who set him up, presumably for the Hellinger inheritance, as there are two sons, Joe and Danny. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

20 January 1991 (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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User Reviews

"Cupid, Forget Your Bow; Just Let Your Ice-Pick Flow into the Victim on the Go"
25 March 2010 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

This episode marks the 24th of 25 written by series Co-Creator Peter S. Fischer, who ties the record for penning the most "MSW" scripts, and often sprinkles nice touches of comic relief along the way.

Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) introduces this penultimate Dennis Stanton "Book-end" episode, as Dennis searches for a missing husband and father around the California cities of San Francisco, south into Carmel and north into San Rafael.

This begins at an elaborate reception, hosted by former professional tennis star Ryan Donovan (Dennis Cole) and toasted by First Man (Robert Donavan), with Dennis Stanton (Keith Michell) as invited guest.

Shall we repeat this scene in a round-about way to avoid confusion? "First Man" (Robert "Donavan") toasts Ryan "Donovan" ("Dennis" Cole) and "Dennis" Stanton (Keith Michell), who, himself, becomes the "First Man" to be billed above "MSW" episode titles?

It would certainly be nice to see more than we do here of some of these refreshing character actors, as the deep baritone-voiced Robert Donavan and Lenny Citrano as the wise-cracking Doorman, each who makes his one series appearance in this episode.

But the story for the most part spins around reformed-jewelry-thief-turned-insurance-investigator Dennis Stanton and old flame Christina Hellinger (Susan Blakely), who attempts to rekindle their brief romance upon their chance encounter at the reception.

When Christina requests Dennis' presence to protect her against elder jealous husband, Ben Hellinger (unseen character), Dennis is swept into a wave of intrigue, which involves physical altercation, conspiracy, murder and police pursuit.

Ben's sons, the assertive Danny Hellinger (Robin Strand), and the passive Joe Hellinger (Sam Bottoms), operate their father's industrial business. While Joe expresses his interest to leave the firm, Danny explains Joe's limited options, before Danny tells Dennis aside that their father has just been seen on Sunday and, therefore, cannot really be considered as missing.

Rhoda Markowitz (Hallie Todd), Dennis' Receptionist at Consolodated Casualty Insurance Company, reluctantly joins forces with Dennis to track information at Dennis' request, to the disdain of employer Robert Butler (James Sloyan), who insists that they do not venture from their insurance responsibilities.

Lieutenant Catalano (Ken Swofford) reluctantly agrees with Dennis' request for police protection for Christina Hellinger, while Dennis makes his rounds to snoop for Ben's whereabouts, but soon enough, Lieutenant Catalano issues an order for Stanton's arrest once a body is discovered in a shower after being stabbed with an ice-pick.

Doorman (Lenny Citrano) reluctantly assists Dennis in his investigation, while alluding police, who continually arrest Dennis for murder and extradition to San Rafael, but Dennis has his many clever ways of claiming his innocence of a sloppy murder, while attempting to avoid apprehension, and setting traps of his very own amid his "Suspicion of Murder."

The cast is rounded out by Adam Silbar as Clerk, Paul Keith as Cashier, Ed Beechner as Policeman, Judy Kerr as Housekeeper, Dennis O'Sullivan as Policeman, and John Arndt as Policeman #2.

This episode represents the most recent appearance to date by Adam Silbar, as well as one of the most recent roles to date each for John Arndt, Dennis O'Sullivan and Robin Strand.

This also marks the second of two "MSW" guest roles each for Judy Kerr, John Arndt, Sam Bottoms, Dennis Cole and Robin Strand, the second of four for Susan Blakely, the sixth of seven for James Sloyan (including his five as Robert Butler), the sixth of seven for Hallie Todd (including her six as Rhoda Markowitz), the seventh of nine for Keith Michell (each in his role as Dennis Stanton), and the ninth of eleven "MSW's" for Ken Swofford (including his six as Lieutenant Catalano).

Dennis Cole, acting in film and on television since 1961, and Sam Bottoms, acting since 1971, have unfortunately since passed.

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