Murder, She Wrote 6.16 “The Big Show of 1965”

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Jessica Fletcher is in Los Angeles this time. She had been convinced by a publishing exec to write about the unsolved 1965 murder of the singer Richie King during a variety show. The original variety show performers are planning a reunion, but a ‘shadowy lady’ is haunting the theater and some of the performers.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim The original victim (from 1965) was the singer Richie King. Another murder happens during the events of the episode: that of Art Sommers, the husband of the eldest Haley Sister
Click to reveal the killer Marge Haley killed Richie King; while Lee Haley killed her husband Art Sommers!
Click to reveal the weapon Richie King was stabbed; Art Sommers was hit over the head with a vase!
Click to reveal the location Both murders happened backstage at Barry Barnes’ theater!
Click to reveal the motive Richie was going to fire The Haley Sisters from the act after he found out that Marge was pregnant with his baby! Art Sommers witnessed that murder, so Lee married him to keep him quiet, and eventually killed him because he was forcing the sisters to do the reunion show even though it was bad for their mental health.

Cast of characters:

The main story revolves around the performers and organizers from the original 1965 variety show:

  • In video footage from 1965, Kim Strauss plays Richie King, a singer who is killed during the show.
  • Joy Garrett plays Sharon King, Richie King’s wife.
  • Donald O’Connor plays Barry Barnes, the owner of the theater and variety show organizer.
  • Jeff Yagher plays Scott Fielding, Barry Barnes’ relative and the publishing exec who convinces Jessica Fletcher to get involved in the case. This is Yagher’s second of three total appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in “The Cemetery Vote“.

The other major act in the variety show was “The Haley Sisters”.

  • Anne Francis plays Lee Haley (the edest of “The Haley Sisters”). This is Francis’ third and final appearance on MSW. In the 1960s, Anne Francis starred in her own detective series called Honey West.
  • Elaine Joyce plays Cathy Haley (one of “The Haley Sisters”). This is Joyce’s second of three total appearances on MSW.
  • Connie Stevens plays Marge Haley (one of “The Haley Sisters”). This is Stevens’ second and final appearance on MSW. Connie Stevens’ starred in the 1960s detective series Hawaiian Eye.
  • Gavin MacLeod plays Art Sommers, the head writer for Barry Barnes and Lee Haley’s husband. Gavin MacLeod is probably best known for starring in The Love Boat and his supporting role in The Mary Tyler Moore show.

Additional members involved in the reunion special include:

  • Don Most as Ozzie Gerson, the music director. This is Most’s second and final appearance on MSW. Most is probably best known for his role as Ralph Malph on Happy Days.
  • Timothy Williams as Sid Lyman, one of the script writers.
  • John Rubinow as Joel Roth, another script writer.

People involved in investigating this case include:

  • Michael Cole as Lt. John Meyerling, who is called in when a murder happens in present day. Cole is known for his role as Pete Cochran on The Mod Squad. This is Cole’s second and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “Murder, She Spoke“.
  • Sheldon Leonard as Sergeant Bulldog Kowalski, who was in charge of the original murder case in 1965.
Just in case it wasn’t clear from his last name that Sergeant Bulldog Kowalski is of Polish heritage, the set designers made sure to put a picture of Pope John Paul II, a picture of Lech Walesa, and the Polish flag on his wall.

Additional credited cast includes Isabel Cooley playing a head nurse.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

The episode features performances of several old songs:

  • The character Richie King is first seen performing the song “Summer Wind”. The song was first released in Germany in 1965 as “Der Sommerwind”, and became a hit after Frank Sinatra recorded it in 1966.
  • The Haley Sisters are also seen performing “You’re Gonna Hear from Me”, which was written for the 1965 movie Inside Daisy Clover.
  • The Haley Sisters are also seen performing “Just One Of Those Things”, which was written for the 1935 musical Jubilee.

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