Jessica Fletcher learns that a fellow writer (and investigative reporter), Daniel Hannigan, has died. Hannigan had been working on a true crime book based on the death of Lydia Grant Thurlow, the sister-in-law of his assistant Phyllis. Jessica travels to Pennsylvania to attend Hannigan’s wake and funeral. While there, Jessica reluctantly gives in to Phyllis’s request for her to finish Hannigan’s work.
Just the facts:
Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.
Click to reveal the victimIt was Lydia Grant Thurlow, (Daniel Hannigan’s sister-in-law)!
Click to reveal the killerIt was Eddie Folkes Jr. (an undercover cop), and his involvement in the crime was covered up by his father Police Commissioner Folkes!
Click to reveal the weaponThe death was an accident: She died after being pushed/falling onto a glass cabinet!
Click to reveal the locationIt took place in the victim’s house!
Click to reveal the motiveEddie wanted to get drug money from her and shoved her when she refused!
Cast of characters:
At the center of the episode is the funeral for Daniel Hannigan.
- Van Johnson plays Daniel Hannigan, a writer and reporter investigating the death of Lydia Grant Thurlow. This is Johnson’s third and final appearance on MSW. This is also Van Johnson last ever on screen appearance.
- Cynthia Harris plays Phyllis Thurlow, Daniel’s assistant and the sister of Martin Thurlow (who is in jail for murdering his wife Lydia). This is Harris’s first of two total appearances on MSW.
- Raphael Sbarge plays Stephen Thurlow, Martin and Lydia Thurlow’s son. This is Sbarge’s first of two total appearances on MSW. He will go on to appear in the two-parter “Nan’s Ghost”.
The woman playing the victim, Lydia, in the flashbacks is never credited. However, we do meet some of her family members.
- Efrem Zimbalist Jr. plays her father, Richard Thompson Grant. This is Zimbalist’s second of three total appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in “The Last Flight of the Dixie Damsel“.
- Anthony Geary plays her brother, Eric Grant. Geary has had a long-lived role as Luke Spencer on General Hospital. He has made one previous appearance on MSW: in “From Russia… with Blood“. This marks his second and final appearance on the show.
- LaReine Chabut plays Eric’s girlfriend Madeline.
We also get to know the local law enforcement:
- Guy Stockwell plays Retired Detective Bert Kravitz, who was first assigned the case. This is Stockwell’s third and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “Night of the Headless Horseman” and “Who Threw the Barbitals in Mrs. Fletcher’s Chowder?“
- Bradford Dillman plays Deputy Police Commissioner Bradley Folkes, who took over the case from Kravitz. Dillman has appeared in 8 episodes of MSW (each time playing different characters). He has previously appeared in “Death Takes a Dive” and “Steal Me a Story“.
And we also meet the Police Commissioner’s family:
- Mala Powers plays Dorothy Folkes, the police commissioner’s wife.
- Isaac Turner plays Eddie Folkes Jr., a former cop with the drug squad and the police commissioner’s son. Eddie died in the line of duty 15 years prior to Hannigan’s Wake. This is his second and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “Truck Stop“.
Other minor characters in this episode include:
- Stephen Young plays Ernie Dolan, a close friend of Daniel Hannigan.
- Emory Bass plays Jonathan Barish, the mortician. This is his second and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “The Days Dwindle Down“.
- Johnny Crear plays Victor Impelleteri, the commissioner’s assistant.
- Kate Randolph Burns plays Madge, the police receptionist.
Several circumstances surrounding this episode are unique. For instance, it is one of only a few episodes in which the crime took place in the past and there were no new victims; and *spoiler/* it is one of only a few episodes where the crime was an accident, and to my knowledge the only episode where the killer was already dead at the time of Jessica’s involvement */end spoiler*.