Murder, She Wrote 4.1 “A Fashionable Way to Die”

In the Season 4 premiere, Jessica has hopped over from England to Paris to visit her dear old friend Eva Taylor during the launch of her fashion line, “The Taylored Look”.  The fact that nobody thought that opening a business with a very English name might not be such a good idea reminds me of the book A Year in the Merde, which centres around an English man unsuccessfully trying to establish a chain of English tea rooms in France.

In addition to lots of scenes of Paris landmarks, we also learn what the French title of A Corpse Danced at Midnight is: “La demoiselle qui a dansé au bal et qui a été enterré a l’aube” (The damsel who danced at the ball and was buried at dawn)…–catchy.


If you look closely at the shots where French landmarks are visible, you’ll see that they used stand-ins/body doubles rather than having the actors on-scene in Paris.

Just the facts ma’am:

Spoilers are in white font, so highlight the text below to reveal the answers.

  • The victim was… a philandering Frenchman who financed the fashion line!
  • killed by… his mistress! but… he was first shot by a model he was blackmailing!
  • in… his hotel room during a fashion show!
  • with… one bullet in the shoulder, one bullet in the chest!
  • because… he was cheating on his mistress with her own daughter!
  • vital clues: two shot guns; and the red purse.

Big names:


The TV guide ad above lists Barbara Rush (playing Jessica’s friend Eva) and Juliet Prowse (playing lounge singer Valerie Bechet) as guest stars.  I’m going to add Lee Bergere (playing the victim, Maxime Soury) to the mix.

  • Barbara Rush (right) is well known for her movie roles including It Came from Outer Space.   
  • Lee Bergere (center) is known for playing majordomo Joseph on Dynasty
  • And Juliet Prowse (left) is known for her acting/singing roles, as well as much gossiped about relationship with Frank Sinatra.

Repeat offenders:


Fritz Weaver plays Inspector Hugue Panassie.  This is his third and final appearance on MSW, each time playing a different character.


Karen Hensel plays Marie the maid.  She will come back to play different characters in two more episodes of MSW.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

This episode is full of terrible French accents and other ridiculous things — like the French policeman interviewing the French maid in English!

But… it’s also full of amazing 80s fashion!


It’s very clear that the show producers were banking on making this episode more of a feast for the eyes and appeal to the armchair traveller.

A contributor on has noted that the writer for this episode (Donald Ross) is known for incorporating names of Jazz musicians into his episodes. To that end, this episode has:

  • Valerie and Kim Bechet are named after Sidney Bechet, a Creole clarinetist and soprano saxophonist from New Orleans.
  • Inspector Hugues Panassié is named after a French jazz critic.
  • Officer Luter is named after Claude Luter, French bandleader who used Bechet as a guest artist in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.
  • Eva Taylor is named after a 1920’s jazz singer who was the wife of Clarence Williams, a bandleader and songwriter.
  • And Lu Watters was the name of a (male) jazz trumpeter who founded a New Orleans-style revival band in San Francisco in 1940.

1 comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: