Murder, She Wrote Recurring Characters

This page presents a complete list of characters who appeared in multiple episodes of Murder, She Wrote. Crucially, I did not include characters who technically appear in two episodes, but those two episodes are actually two parts of the same one. Thus, the list only includes characters who played a part in more than one story-line.

For each character, I’ve noted the actor(s) who played them and the number of episodes they appeared in. I have tried to organize the characters thematically according to type; and within each type the characters are generally listed according to the number of appearances on they made on the show.

Cabot Cove Residents

The most significant Cabot Cove resident is one who made the most appearances on the show (aside from Jessica) and one who also occasionally took trips with her outside of Cabot Cove:

  • Dr. Seth Hazlitt (52 episodes) — played by William Windom, who also appeared in one early episode as a different character.

Members of Cabot Cove law enforcement include (in chronological order of appearance):

  • Sheriff Amos Tupper (19 episodes) — played by Tom Bosley. Amos Tupper was Cabot Cove sheriff from Season 1 through Season 4.
  • Sheriff Mort Metzger (39 episodes) — played by Ron Masak, who also appeared in two early episodes as different characters. Mort Metzger was Cabot Cove sheriff from Season 5 through Season 12.
  • Deputy Floyd (15 episodes) — played by Will Nye. Floyd Jones was the Cabot Cove deputy from Season 5 through Season 7.
  • Deputy Andy Broom (23 episodes) — played by Louis Herthum, who also appeared in two early episodes playing different characters. Andy Broom was Cabot Cove deputy from Season 8 through Season 12.

A memorable set of Cabot Covers includes the beauty parlor ladies:

  • Eve Simpson (10 episodes) — played by Julie Adams. Eve Simpson was the local real estate agent.
  • Loretta Spiegel/Speigel (3 episodes) — played by Ruth Roman. Loretta is the beauty parlor owner.
  • Phyllis Grant (3 episodes) — played by Gloria DeHaven. Phyllis is a travel agent.
  • Ideal Molloy (3 episodes) — played by Kathryn Grayson.
  • Coreen/Corinne played by Sally Klein, who played a beautician at the parlor.

Additional characters include:

  • Mayor Sam Booth (7 episodes) — played by Richard Paul, who also lent his voice to one more episode
  • Captain Ethan Cragg (4 episodes) — played by Claude Akins
  • Jean O’Neill (4 episodes) — played by Madlyn Rhue, who also appeared as a different character in one more episode
  • Harry Pierce (3 episodes) — played by John Astin, who also appeared in two additional episodes as other characters. Harry Pierce was the town’s real estate agent before Eve Simpson.
  • Bennett (Ben) J. Devlin (3 episodes) — played by Joe Dorsey, who also appeared in two additional episodes as different characters (one of which was a two-parter)
  • Ebeneezer McEnery (2 episodes) — played by Orson Bean
  • Adam Frobisher (2 episodes) — played by Christopher Stone
  • Mabel (2 episodes) — played by Phyllis Franklin, was Mayor Sam Booth’s secretary.

Jessica Fletcher’s Family

Only four of Jessica Fletcher’s family members made more than one appearance on the show:

  • Grady Ambrose Fletcher (12 episodes) — played by Michael Horton
  • Donna Mayberry Fletcher (4 episodes) — played by Debbie Zipp, who also appeared in one early episode as a different character
  • Victoria Brandon Griffin (3 episodes) — played by Genie Francis
  • Howard Griffin (3 episodes) — played by Jeff Conaway (first two episodes) and Dean Butler (third episode). Jeff Conaway also appeared in two later episodes as different characters.

If you want information about every one of Jessica Fletcher’s family members, you can check out my page on Jessica Fletcher’s Family Tree.

Private Eyes and Spies

  • Dennis Stanton (9 episodes) — played by Keith Michell
  • Michael Hagarty (7 episodes) — played by Len Cariou
  • Harry McGraw (7 episodes) — played by Jerry Orbach
  • Charlie Garrett (5 episodes) — played by Wayne Rogers

Dennis Stanton’s sidekicks

In Season 7, Dennis Stanton had what could be described as a mini-spin-off within the show and became the star of his own six episodes. These episodes (in addition to one episode from Season 6) featured some recurring characters in addition to Stanton:

  • Lt. Perry Catalano (6 episodes) — played by Ken Swofford, who also appeared in five additional episodes as different characters. Lt. Catalano was local law enforcement that sometimes shared information with Dennis Stanton.
  • Rhoda Markowitz (6 episodes) — played by Hallie Todd, who also appeared in one additional episode as a different character. Rhoda was Dennis Stanton’s secretary.
  • Robert Butler (5 episodes) — played by James Sloyan, who also appeared in two additional episodes as different characters. Robert Butler was Dennis Stanton’s boss.
  • Detective Ishimini (at least 2 episodes) — played by Yuji Okumoto, who also appeared in at least one other episode as a different character. Detective Ishimini is Lt. Catalano’s sidekick and I’ve identified him in at least two episodes, but the actor was never credited for the role.

Cops

There was only one cop outside of Cabot Cove who made more than a handful of appearances on the show:

  • NYPD Lieutenant Artie Gelber (7 episodes) — played by Herb Edelman, who also appeared in three earlier episodes as different characters. Artie Gelber appeared in Season 9 through Season 11.
  • Detective Henderson (5 episodes) — played by Leonard Lightfoot. Detective Henderson was Lt. Gelber’s sidekick in Season 10 and Season 11.

There were many other cops who made just a couple of appearances:

  • Lieutenant Gabriel Caceras (3 episodes) — played by Gregory Sierra, who also appeared in three other episodes as different characters. Lieutenant Caceras is based in Los Angeles and appeared in Season 9 and Season 11.
  • NYPD Lt. Timothy Hanratty (2 episodes) — played by Barney Martin. Lieutenant Hanratty appeared in Season 3’s “No Accounting for Murder” and Season 5’s “Smooth Operators“.
  • Lt. Casey (2 episodes) — played by Ray Girardin, who also appears in “If It’s Thursday, It Must Be Beverly” as a different character. Lieutenant Casey is based in Boston and appeared in Season 2’s “One Good Bid Deserves a Murder” and Season 3’s “Death Takes a Dive”.
  • Lt. Alan Terwilliger (2 episodes) — played by Michael Tolan, who also appears in “No Accounting for Murder” as a different character. Lieutenant Terwilliger is based in New York and appeared in Season 9 and Season 10.
  • Det. Sgt. Vince Lofton (2 episodes) — played by Stan Shaw, who also appears in “Murder to a Jazz Beat” as a different character. Sergeant Lofton is based in New York and appeared in Season 9 and Season 10.
  • Sgt. Terence Boyle (2 episodes) — played by Mark Rolston, who also appears in “To the Last Will I Grapple with Thee” and “The Wind Around the Tower” as different characters. Sergeant Boyle is Based in Ireland and appeared in Season 10 and Season 11.
  • Sergeant, later Lieutenant, Nick Acosta (2 episodes) — played by Jay Acovone, who also played a different cop in “O’Malley’s Luck“. Detective Acosta is based in New York and appeared in Season 8 and Season 10.
  • Inspector Piero Amati (2 episodes) — played by Lorenzo Caccialanza. Inspector Amati is based in Italy and appeared in Season 11 and Season 12.
  • Lt. Evans/Lt. Evers (2 episodes) — played by Seth Jaffe. (The character has different but similar names, and in both cases plays a San Francisco lieutenant. In his second appearance, Jessica Fletcher acknowledges they have met before.) He appears in Season 11 and Season 12.

Miscellaneous

Friends from Jessica’s Past

  • Haskell Drake — played by Harry Guardino, who also appeared in two additional episodes as different characters. Haskell Drake is a newspaper reporter based in Boston. Haskell Drake new Jessica when she used to be a researcher for the wire service, before she became a teacher and married Frank. Haskell Drake appeared in Season 3’s “Deadline for Murder” and Season 7’s “Moving Violation“.

There were also two recurring characters who were old army buddies of Jessica’s husband Frank when he served in the Korean War. They both first appeared in “The Last Flight of the Dixie Damsel“.

  • Lt. Clint Phelps — played by Martin Milner, who also appeared in three additional episodes as different characters. His second appearance was in “Thursday’s Child“.
  • Lee Goddard — played by Dale Robertson but was uncredited. His second appearance was in “Prediction Murder

Publishing connections

  • Preston Giles (2 episodes) — played by Arthur Hill. Preston is Jessica’s first publisher in the pilot movie. He made a second appearance in “The Return of Preston Giles“.
  • Ted Hartley (3 episodes) — played by Bruce Gray, who also appeared in two additional episodes as different characters. Ted Hartley was Jessica Fletcher’s publisher in Season 8 and Season 10.
  • Boyce Brown (2 episodes) — played by Mike Connors, who also appeared in “Truck Stop” as a different character. Boyce Brown was a movie producer who made two movies based on J. B. Fletcher’s books: one in Season 11 and one in Season 12.

Jessica’s New York friends

  • Ahmed Shankar (4 episodes) — played by Andrew Johnson (credited as Andrew Brye). Ahmed was the doorman to Jessica’s apartment building in New York City in Season 8.
  • Richie Kanpinski (2 episodes) — played by Eddie Barth, who also appeared in two additional episodes as different characters. Richie is another doorman in Jessica’s New York City apartment building that appeared in Season 9 and Season 10.
  • Dr. Raymond Auerbach (2 episodes) — played by Alan Oppenheimer. Raymond Auerbach heads the criminology department at Manhattan University where Jessica teaches in Season 8.
  • Sean Culhane/Cullane (2 episodes) — played by George Hearn, who also appeared in “Trials and Tribulations” as a different character. Sean is Jessica’s colleague at Manhattan University. He appears in Season 8 and also travels to Ireland with her in Season 9.
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