Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Twice Dead 

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When a brilliant scientist fakes his own death and is then actually murdered, Jessica sets the record straight when the wrong man is arrested.


Walter Grauman


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


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Episode cast overview:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Sam Anderson ... Stuart Himes
Annie Corley ... Liz White
Robert Curtis Brown ... David Randall (as Robert Curtis-Brown)
Bradford Dillman ... Richard Ellston
Herb Edelman ... NYPD Lieutenant Artie Gelber (as Herbert Edelman)
Richard Portnow ... Walter Pell
William Morgan Sheppard ... Dr. Fredrick Grundberg (as W. Morgan Sheppard)
Shannon Tweed ... Priscilla Lake
Bruce Weitz ... Dr. Max Franklin
Kathleen Sullivan Kathleen Sullivan ... T.V. Reporter
Wren T. Brown ... Desk Clerk
Lisa Long ... Officer Rizzoli
Mario Machado ... Male Reporter
Jim Bockelman Jim Bockelman ... Mailroom Person (as James Bockelman)


In a laboratory, files are copied and the originals destroyed. The perpetrator is tailed. It's Nobel prize-winner cancer drug researcher Dr. Max Franklin, who according to the TV news dies in a plane crash. His research colleague Liz White insists Jessica comes anyway. The firm claims he just completed work on the vaccine. Dr. Stuart Himes and Liz are ignored about safety tests. David Randall finds tests are impossible after the disappearance of crucial cultures and data and is ordered to make the tests work or get the boot. Priscilla Lake schemes about the stock's likely dive. Jessica believes to have seen Max alive in a cab, reports it to NYPD Lt. Artie Gelber, is approached by Max and tells him she saw Walter Pell, the P.I. who tails him, at the firm. He says he took the research stuff himself and when he saw he was being followed, decided not to get on the plane. He wants to remain 'dead' for some time. As Jessica fears, there's a failed arson attempt on Max's life, which later ... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

12 February 1995 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This is the final screen appearance of Bradford Dillman. See more »


Although Liz folded the envelope that Max sent her (the clue to the identity of the murderer), the letter that was supposedly inside did not have a corresponding fold. See more »


[first lines]
T.V. Reporter: According to a spokesman, Suffolk Air Flight 17, bound for Montauk, crashed into Long Island Sound shortly after takeoff. There were no survivors. Among the passengers, Nobel Prize-winning biophysicist, Dr. Max Franklin. A PhD at 15, brilliant, unpredictable. Franklin is believed to be working on a breakthrough cancer drug known as L-214. Early in his career, Franklin worked in the European laboratory of the famed Swiss scientist...
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User Reviews

"For the Way of Hate Has Just Too Much Woe, And the Day May Come When They'll Tell You So"
14 April 2010 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

This episode marks the most recent appearance to date by actor and author Bradford Dillman, star of stage, screen and television, who makes his first appearance in 1955, and performs for the next 40 years, including his eight "MSW" appearances, to become the actor portraying the most different characters upon this series. (Happy Birthday today, Bradford, and many happy returns.)

Nobel Prize-winning Physiologist Doctor Max Franklin (Bruce Weitz) has been developing L-214 Vaccine, a potential pharmaceutical breakthrough treatment, at Biomec Technologies, in New York City.

But after Max removes his L-214 culture and journal from Biomec Technologies one night, he is trailed by Private Investigator Walter Pell (Richard Portnow), but manages to elude surveillance.

The next morning, television news coverage reports upon an airplane disaster occurring in Jamaica Bay, near Long Island, which claims the lives of everyone on board. Doctor Max Franklin has been reported upon its passengers' list, and is, therefore, presumed to have perished.

Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), following the news coverage, telephones Liz White (Annie Corley) at Biomec Technologies to convey her sympathies and to suggest that they postpone their afternoon appointment to review chapters of the manuscript which Liz has submitted to Hartley Publishers. Liz invites Jessica to share in the grief, as Biomec Technologies plans a press conference to announce its plans for the future of L-214.

Biomec CEO, Doctor Fredrick Grundberg (William Morgan Sheppard), conducts the press conference with Executive Manager Priscilla Lake (Shannon Tweed) and Independent Stockbroker Richard Ellston (Bradford Dillman) at his side.

Fredrick Grundberg assures stockholders that all has not been lost in L-214's development, for his research team may be able to salvage Max Franklin's research.

Stuart Himes (Sam Anderson) and David Randall (Robert Curtis Brown) also serve on the Biomec research team, along with Liz White, who receives an envelope from Max with Jessica at her side during the news conference.

One day later, as Jessica attempts to cross a busy street, she recognizes Max as a passenger in taxicab 1Z76, and so she contacts NYPD Lieutenant Artie Gelber (Herb Edelman), who asks Officer Rizzoli (Lisa Long) to track the driver's recent fares. Lieutenant Artie Gelber usually conducts a sub-plot with his investigations, and this time he seeks a flattering photographer to produce his portrait for publicity in conjunction with a forthcoming police award ceremony, and he asks Jessica for suggestions. She suggests Gorman Photography Studio.

When Jessica traces Max to a hotel room, she volunteers to retrieve his journal from his apartment, as he would not be safe after faking his own death in order to evade murder. But someone evidently attempts murder, by rigging a fire bomb at Max's apartment, which Tommy the Cat accidentally triggers, to demolish his residence. Tommy the Cat's fate hangs in the balance.

Now that additional reports are broadcast to convey that Max has been killed again, accusations rise to full force around Biomec Technologies, as executives, investors and research scientists scheme to cover their losses.

But when Jessica receives another tip, she and Liz enter a room in a neighborhood of bedraggled tenements and stumble across a body bludgeoned by an ashtray.

Jessica once again teams with NYPD Lieutenant Artie Gelber, as she is being followed, but cleverly manages to ask leading questions as to who has hired the former police P.I. and who stands to gain by the discovery of L-214, before she sets a trap to reveal the perpetrator and a motive to attempt to claim the life of a victim "Twice Dead."

The cast is rounded out by Kathleen Sullivan as T.V. Reporter, Mario Machado as Reporter, Wren T. Brown as Desk Clerk, and Jim Bockelman as Mailroom Person.

This also represents the most recent appearance to date by Kathleen Sullivan, as well as the second of two "MSW" appearances each for Lisa Long, Wren T. Brown and Richard Portnow, the second of three each for Jim Bockelman and Robert Curtis Brown, the third of three for Mario Machado, the third of four for Sam Anderson, the eighth of eight for Bradford Dillman, and the tenth of ten for Herb Edelman (including his seven as NYPD Lieutenant Artie Gelber).

Herb Edelman, acting on television and in film since 1964, has unfortunately since passed.

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