Murder, She Wrote 7.6 “A Body to Die For”

There’s a new fitness center in Cabot Cove and all the local ladies (especially Eve Simpson) are flocking to it! Of course, Jessica Fletcher doesn’t need to go to the gym because she gets all the exercise she needs from riding her bicycle, jogging, and stumbling onto dead bodies.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Fred Keppard, a prospective buyer for the old Sullivan Farm!
Click to reveal the killer It was Clarence La Rue, the pharmacist!
Click to reveal the weapon It was a shotgun!
Click to reveal the location It was inside Eve Simpson’s house!
Click to reveal the motive The shot was actually meant for Wayne Bennett, the fitness instructor, because the killer thought his wife was having an affair with him!

Cast of characters:

As this is a Cabot Cove episode, it features several series regulars:

  • Ron Masak plays Sheriff Mort Metzger.
  • Will Nye plays Deputy Floyd.
  • Joe Dorsey plays Ben Devlin, the local newspaper editor. This is Dorsey’s fourth of five total appearances on MSW; and his second appearance as Ben Devlin. He first appeared in “Death Stalks the Big Top” and “Showdown in Saskatchewan” as different characters. He first appeared as Ben Devlin in “Deadly Misunderstanding“.
  • Julie Adams plays Eve Simpson, the local real estate agent (and in this episode a fitness enthusiast). This is Adams’ fifth of ten total appearances on MSW. She first appeared in “If It’s Thursday, It Must Be Beverly“, and previously appeared in “Town Father“.

At the center of this episode is Wayne’s Workout Gym:

  • Jason Beghe plays Wayne Bennett, a fitness instructor and gym owner. This is Beghe’s second and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “Alma Murder“.

In addition to Eve Simpson, several other women in Cabot Cove are huge fans of the gym:

  • Sally Struthers plays Nancy La Rue. Struthers is best known for portraying Archie Bunker’s daughter Gloria in All in the Family.
  • Alix Elias plays Mrs. Hardin.
  • Ruta Lee plays Renee.
  • Patricia McPherson plays Betty (*spoiler* Betty turns out to be Wayne’s wife */spoiler*). McPherson had a recurring role as Bonnie Barstow in Knight Rider.
  • Michele Bernath plays an unnamed woman. Bernath goes on to make another appearance as an unnamed woman in one more episode.

Some of the women’s husbands, on the other hand, are not fans of how much time their wives are spending at the gym:

  • James Olson plays Clarence La Rue, the local pharmacist and Nancy’s husband. This is Olson’s last ever on-screen appearance.
  • Ernie Lively plays Joe Hardin, husband to Mrs. Hardin. This is Lively’s second of five total appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in “Good-Bye Charlie“.

Another important Cabot Cove newcomer is:

  • Fred Keppard, played by Hugh O’Brian, who apparently wants to buy some real estate.

Other minor cast members include:

  • Katharine Durish as the gym’s receptionist.
  • Paul Lueken as a paramedic.

Final thoughts:

To me, the most notable thing about this episode is of course the cast of Cabot Cove regulars — not just the ones that are present but also the ones that are absent. The premise of the episode is very reminiscent of “If It’s Thursday, It Must Be Beverly“, but aside from Eve Simpson the rest of the ladies from Loretta’s beauty parlor are not included in the story. (Although Loretta and the beauty parlor rumor mill are mentioned in the episode, their last on-screen appearance was in “Town Father“.) Additionally, Doctor Seth Hazlitt is also missing — due to the role of Jessica’s sidekick being temporarily replaced by Ben Devlin while William Windom was off starring in a short-lived sit-com.

Unlike Jessica Fletcher in “If It’s Thursday, It Must Be Beverly“, Eve Simpson doesn’t mind getting a shoulder massage.

Additionally, if you ever watch several Cabot Cove episodes in a row, you’ll notice how sets are often reused, with the same set being used to stand in for multiple different places. In this case, the Cabot Cove Gazette office from “Deadly Misunderstanding” is now Wayne’s Workout Gym.

Finally, I have written before about how the writer for this episode, Donald Ross, often likes to incorporate the names of Jazz musicians into his scripts. (He has done this in “A Fashionable Way to Die“, among other episodes.) I’m not a Jazz aficionado, but as far as I’ve been able to find there are at least two such characters in “A Body to Die For”: Fred Keppard was likely named after Freddie Keppard, a cornetists who was once considered to be the ‘King’ of the New Orleans jazz scene; and Wayne Bennett may have been named after a blues guitarist.

EDIT: If you’re a fan of Murder, She Wrote and this episode in particular, I have designed a T-shirt based on the logo for The Wayne Workout Gym as seen on the show. You can purchase the design on clothing and other merchandise through TeePublic.

Click on the image to take you to the TeePublic page for this product.

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