Lila: “Miss Mary Rose, you weren’t here at opening time. Now, I know you said you didn’t want any changes made, so I figured that just meant business as usual. Is that okay?”
Jessica: “O-oh, I… was just a little surprised that we opened so early.”
Lila: “Well, that’s a courtesy to our regular customers. Some of them have to go home to dinner before the kids go to bed.”
This episode starts with Jessica having lunch with a friend in New York City. The friend’s sister has died in suspicious circumstances, and when Jessica’s friend winds up in hospital, they decide that Jessica should impersonate her and visit the sister’s hotel “The Garden of Eden” in Eden, Oregon.
There is in fact an unincorporated community in Oregon called Eden, but as far as I can tell it’s not a town of the size indicated on the show, and there certainly isn’t an Eden County in Oregon. The only real place name mentioned on the show is Medford, where Martha the maid says she was while the victim died.
Just the facts ma’am:
Spoilers are in white font, so highlight the text below to reveal the answers.
- The victim was… the owner of a brothel (and Jessica’s friend’s sister)!
- killed by… the local property investor!
- in… her bed!
- with… a knife to the chest!
- because… she was going to tell everyone about how he swindled people out of their investments!
- vital clues: a secret about somebody that only the killer could have known.
Continuing the tradition of guest appearances by classic movie stars, this episode features the final on-screen appearance by Joan Caulfield whose previous on-screen appearance was 10 years prior. Here she is playing Mary Rose Welch, Jessica’s New York friend whose sister died under suspicious circumstances.
The first two repeat offenders I wanted to feature were also pretty big stars in their own right.
- Betty Garrett (left) makes her first of two appearances on the show. This time she’s playing the victim’s maid Martha Neilson. Betty Garrett is better known as landlady Edna Babish on Laverne & Shirley, as well as neighbour Irene Lorenzo on All in the Family.
- Macdonald Carey (right) makes his second and last appearance on the show. This time he plays the town doctor, Dr. Lynch. Macdonald Carey is best known as playing Dr. Tom Horton in 3,410 episodes of the soap opera Days of Our Lives.
Two ladies featured in this episode had made multiple appearances on the show.
- Rosanna Huffman (left) plays the reverend’s wife, Dora Manchester. This is her fourth of a total seven appearances on MSW. Mystery TV fans might also recognize Rosanna Huffman from her two appearances on Columbo.
- Tricia O’Neil (right) plays the hotel manager, Lila Benson. This is her third of a total five appearances on MSW.
- Stuart Whitman (left) plays C.J. Dobbs, a local real-estate investor. This is his third of a total four appearances on MSW.
- Roy Thinnes (right) plays Sheriff Howard Landry. This is his second of a total three appearances on MSW.
A few actors made just a couple of appearances on the show.
- Kerry Wall (Brennan) (left) plays one of the hotel “ladies”. She’s credited as playing a character named Beth, but actually as far as I recall her name was never mentioned in the episode. This is her first of two total appearances on MSW. Interestingly, in her second appearance, she also plays a character named Beth.
- Thom Christopher (center) plays Rev. Willard Manchester. This is also his first of two total appearances on MSW.
- Mills Watson (right) plays local mortician Glen Roy “Snooks” Sitwell. This is his second and final appearance on MSW.
This episode features a bit of Jessica’s non-judgmental liberal-mindedness, as she is faced with having to pretend to be a brothel madam. It also offers some opportunities for comic relief.
This is also another episode that serves as evidence against the popular theory that Jessica is a serial killer: the murder being investigated is one that took place before Jessica arrived in town.
And that’s it! That’s all she wrote!