Murder, She Wrote 7.18 “Where Have You Gone, Billy Boy?”

In this last-ever “bookend” episode, Dennis Stanton tells Jessica about his adventures solving a crime involving a ventriloquist dummy named Billy Boy.

This time, Dennis is in Cabot Cove to tell Jessica about his adventures in person (rather than on a recorded cassette tape, as was the case in previous episodes). Notice J.B. Fletcher’s book ‘Yours Truly, Damian Sinclair’, which was apparently inspired by Dennis Stanton.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Kate Kelley, a co-owner of the comedy club!
Click to reveal the killer It was Joe Geraldi, a co-owner of the comedy club!
Click to reveal the weapon The victim was hit with a hammer!
Click to reveal the location The body was found in the storage room/basement of the comedy-club, close to where Billy Boy was hidden!
Click to reveal the motive She threatened to ruin Woody’s career, just like she ruined Sally’s career, and the killer just couldn’t let her do that again!

Cast of characters:

As this is a Dennis Stanton “bookend” episode, we have him and his usual accomplices:

  • Keith Michell plays Dennis Stanton. This is his fifth of nine total appearances on MSW. He first appeared in “A Little Night Work“.
  • Hallie Todd plays Rhoda Markowitz, his secretary. This is Todd’s fourth of seven total appearances on MSW. She initially played a different character (in “Class Act“), but has been playing the character of Rhoda since “Always a Thief“.
  • James Sloyan plays Robert Butler, his boss at Consolidated Casualty Insurance. This is Sloyan’s fourth of seven total appearances on MSW. He initially played different characters (such as in “The Body Politic“). His first appearance as Robert Butler was in “Always a Thief“.
  • Ken Swofford plays Lt. Catalano, his frequent police contact. As revealed in this episode, his first name is Perry. This is Swofford’s seventh of eleven total appearances on the show. He initially played different characters (such as in “Steal Me a Story” and “Truck Stop“. His first appearance as Lt. Catalano was in “Always a Thief“.

The main mystery revolves around a San Francisco nightclub:

  • Georgia Brown plays Kate Kelley, the club ruthless co-owner. This is Brown’s second and final appearance on MSW. She previously appeared in “Trevor Hudson’s Legacy“. While looking at Georgia Brown’s acting history, I learned about a short-lived 1992 cartoon titled ‘Fish Police’ for which she had lent her voice.
  • Marty Ingels plays Joe Gelardi, the club’s ‘junior partner’ co-owner. This is Ingels’ second and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “The Fixer-Upper“.
  • Mike Jolly plays Elmo, the club’s bouncer.
  • Leslie Easterbrook plays Sally Templeton, a recovering alcoholic stand-up comic and Joe Geraldi’s ex-girlfriend who wants to get back her job at the club. This is Easterbrook’s second of four total appearances on MSW. She previously appeared in “J.B.. as in Jailbird“. Easterbrook is known for her recurring role as Rhonda Lee on ‘Laverne & Shirley‘, as well as Captain Callahan in the Police Academy movies.

The star performer at the club is an act involving the dummy Billy Boy:

  • Grant Shaud plays Elwood ‘Woody’ Perkins, the ventriloquist. Shaud is best known for his role as Miles Silverberg on ‘Murphy Brown‘.
  • Teri Copley plays Brenda McCoy, Woody’s girlfriend and assistant.
  • Jim Metzler plays Tom Benzinger, Woody’s manager.
  • Lyle Waggoner plays Vic DeMarco, a Las Vegas club owner who is trying to convince the act to break their contract at Kelley’s club and perform at his nightclub. This is Waggoner’s second of three total appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in “Hooray for Homicide”. Waggoner may be best known for his co-starring role on ‘Wonderwoman‘.

Minor cast members include:

  • David Stenstrom as a budding comic. This is Stenstrom’s third of four total appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in “Something Borrowed, Someone Blue” and “The Fixer-Upper“.
  • Jeffrey Jen a s Comic #2
  • Kevin McCoy, Jana Grant, Matt McCarter, and Susan Welby as Insurance Co-Workers who tried to get Robert Butler’s attention as he walked down the hall to Dennis’s office.
David Stenstrom

Final thoughts:

Given that the Dennis Stanton episodes were set in San Francisco, I was wondering whether they were filmed on location. There is evidence to support that as there are scenes where he is driving up to the comedy club, which do indeed appear to be filmed in San Francisco. In the case of the comedy club, I was able to identify that the building at 1028 Kearny St. in San Francisco was used to stand in for Kate Kelley’s Comedy Club. (Note that—according to what I could see on Google Street View—the building appears to have undergone extensive renovations around 2008 and so looks very different nowadays.)

Additionally, the book ‘Yours Truly, Damian Sinclair’ makes another appearance (after first being mentioned in “The Great Twain Robbery“) and we get a much clearer glimpse of the cover art.

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