Murder, She Wrote 6.8 “When the Fat Lady Sings”

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Jessica Fletcher is in San Francisco–she ran into Dennis Stanton (a former jewel thief) and he takes her out to the opera!

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Lou, a sketchy guy who was hanging around the opera!
Click to reveal the killer It was Maria, the newest member of the opera company!
Click to reveal the weapon He was shot!
Click to reveal the location It happened in the alley behind the opera!
Click to reveal the motive Maria was actually working with Lou in order to smuggle emeralds into the country, and she double-crossed him!

Cast of characters:

This is the second appearance for Keith Michell as Dennis Stanton. Michell has made a total of 9 appearances as the character on MSW. He previously appeared in “A Little Night Work“.

The plot in this episode revolves around an opera company and its members:

  • Theodore Bikel plays Rosanno Bertolucci, a tenor in the opera company. This is Bikel’s second of four total appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in “Indian Giver“.
  • Carol Lawrence plays Silvana Bertolucci, Rosanno’s wife. This is Lawrence’s third of four total appearances on MSW.
  • Lila Kaye plays Teresa Mancini, Rosanno’s aunt.
  • Leo Damian plays Giorgio Russo, a rival tenor.
  • Walter Olkewicz plays Howard, another performer.

The newest member of the company includes Maria.

  • Kathleen Beller as Maria Deschier, a soprano and Rosanno’s protege. This is Beller’s second and final appearance on MSW.
  • Mark Herrier plays Barry Sanderson, a reporter and Maria’s current boyfriend. Herrier’s earliest screen roles include Billy in the Porky’s movie franchise. Most recently, he has a recurring role on the detective series Bosch as Captain Dennis Cooper.
  • James Short plays Lou Faraday, a guy who appears to be stalking Maria.

The police officer in charge of this investigation is Lt. Birnbaum, played by Jerry Stiller!

There are also a number of minor characters, most of whom are played by a bunch of Toms:

  • David Elliott plays a Paramedic in his second of three total appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in “Three Strikes, You’re Out“.
  • Tom Tarpey plays a doctor.
  • Tom Kendall plays a stage manager.
  • Tom Van Hoof plays Special Agent Dixon.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

It seems like the script writers and wardrobe people in charge of this episode couldn’t come to a consensus. There are a number of moments where the windbreaker that the victim was seen wearing is described as “grey”, but if you watch closely you’ll notice that Jessica Fletcher/Angela Lansbury is actually mouthing the word “tan”. It seems like they initially recorded her saying the word “tan” and then chose to overdub it with “grey”. I don’t quite understand this choice because personally, I thought that the windbreaker colour looks more tan than grey.

This episode is the first of two episodes featuring Dennis Stanton in Season 6. The next episode featuring his character is a “book-end” episode, in which Jessica only introduces the story but doesn’t take part. His character obviously proved popular since he becomes the star of all the Jessica-less episodes that were subsequently included in Season 7.

Having done a little bit of research on Keith Michell, I was surprised to learn how multi-talented he was. He was a singer, illustrator–he even wrote a cook book!

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