Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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The Perfect Foil 

In New Orleans at Mardi Gras, a distant cousin of Jessica is falsely accused of murder.


Walter Grauman


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 2 more credits »


Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Barbara Babcock ... Rosaline Gardner
Peter Bonerz ... Calhoun 'Cal' Fletcher
Cesare Danova ... Lt. Edmund Cavette
George DiCenzo ... Johnny Blaze (as George Di Cenzo)
Robert Forster ... Gilbert Gaston
David Hedison ... Mitch Payne
Lisa Langlois ... Kitty Manette
Penny Singleton ... Aunt Mildred
Granville Van Dusen ... Congressman Brad Gardner
Morgan Jones ... Sergeant Baxter
Joe Ross Joe Ross ... Desk Clerk
Hank Rolike ... Taxi Driver
Sherry McFarland ... Receptionist
Raf Mauro ... Napolean (as Rafael Mauro)




Jessica goes to New Orleans during Mardi Gras to check on cousin-in-law Calhoun 'Cal' Fletcher as promised to Aunt Mildred. As her hotel was booked for the next night, she goes to Cal's place, but the only man in the Cyrano de Bergerac costume she was told he wears ignores her and storms, with drawn sword, into a room beside the party hall from where a fight is heard, which leaves a real corpse, Johnny Blaze, with Cal written in blood besides him. NOPD Lt. Edmund Cavette concludes from her eye for murder scene details who Jessica is and explains the Lafitte mansion, which Cal inherited, is no home but a gambling place. Cavette arrests Cal, who claims he didn't even know what happened there. Cavette knows he was indebted to Blaze, now Cal admits he recently accused Blaze of cheating. Fellow gambler attorney Mitch Payne promises bail tomorrow and considers pleading self-defense. He got Blaze off a murder charge, he probably committed, on Cavette's son, Eric. Jessica untangles more ... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


When Jessica is first talking to her cousin Cal in the police station, Cal doesn't have a pen in his shirt pocket. By the time the lawyer, Mitch Payne, enters the station and begins to engage in conversation with Jessica and Cal, a pen has mysteriously appeared in Cal's shirt pocket. See more »


[first lines]
Calhoun 'Cal' Fletcher: I'll open.
Johnny Blaze: Cards?
Calhoun 'Cal' Fletcher: Two, please.
Mitch Payne: Three.
Congressman Brad Gardner: One.
Johnny Blaze: Dealer's taking two.
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Murder She Wrote Theme
Written by John Addison
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User Reviews

Who Is that Masked Suspect with the Sword of Damsels in Distress?
19 December 2009 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

This episode marks the last live-action television acting role by Penny Singleton, who has been acting in film since 1930, and on television since 1950, and continued in voice-over animation for several years to follow.

Cesare Danova, acting since 1945, and Hank Rolike, acting since 1973, have also unfortunately since passed.

After Calhoun "Cal" Fletcher (Peter Bonerz) relocates to New Orleans, Louisiana, he faithfully corresponds with his Aunt Mildred (Penny Singleton), who remains alone with her pet terrier in her comfortable surroundings, but one day realizes that she hasn't heard from Cal in some three or four months.

Aunt Mildred, therefore, notifies Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) to report her fears that Calhoun may be in some sort of danger. After explaining his relationship as a cousin to Jessica's late husband, Frank, Mildred requests that Jessica swing around to New Orleans to check in on Calhoun during her forthcoming book tour to Houston.

Jesssica arrives in New Orleans amid the hustle and bustle of its celebration of its last evening Mardi Gras Week, or "Fat Tuesday," as costumed revelers fill the streets and halls, as well as hotels at which no reservations are available for her to stay. And so, with the able assistance of Taxi Driver (Hank Rolike), who guides her around the city, she locates the address of a club known as Lafitte Mansion, at which Cal reportedly celebrates the festivities.

Johnny Blaze (George DiCenzo) operates the club given as Calhoun Fletcher's address although he rents a small apartment nearby, which Jessica initially doesn't learn about, as she sorts through costumers, some amicable, some distant, who ignore her requests to point out her cousin-in-law, who is said to be disguised at Cyrano de Bergerac, with the cap, cape and pale mask sporting a protruding proboscis.

Before spotting any such Cyrano de Bergerac, Jessica meets partiers, such as a Costumed Harem Dancer, a Madame Dracula, a Napoleon, a Sir Walter Raleigh, a Roman Catholic Cardinal and a Lady MacBeth, the latter of whom, Rosaline Gardner (Barbara Babcock) sneaks into a drawing room office, and returns passing Jessica, without speaking to her.

After spotting a Cyrano de Bergerac, she call for his attention amid the commotion of the evening, but he ignores her, draws a sword, and enters the office drawing room, as others often begin to notice once the pings of a sword fight escalate from within.

But once the room is unlocked, Jessica enters with a few of the others, to discover a body lying upon its floor, an open window, and no sign of Cyrano de Bergerac.

NOPD Lieutenant Edmund Cavette (Cesare Danova) and NOPD Sergeant Baxter (Morgan Jones) are assigned to the case, as they try to track down Calhoun Fletcher as primary suspect. Lieutenant Cavette's son had previously been murdered by someone obviously associated with this outfit at Lafitte Mansion, which turns out to be a secret gambling operation, and so he is bent upon finding any killers.

Jessica manages to track down Calhoun at his humble apartment by morning light, as he attempts to recover from a hangover and denies staying at the party by the time of Jessica's arrival. She believes him but informs him that he must speak to the police, which proves unfortunate for Calhoun, as Lieutenant Cavette considers him the prime suspect, based upon the testimony of witnesses who report that Cal, as Cyrano, has done it.

Kitty Manette (Lisa Langlois), the fiancée of Calhoun Fletcher, had been in attendance at the party, but offers conflicting testimony, as she has been unfaithful with him, by running around with gambler Gilbert Gaston (Robert Forster), who helps to operate the club.

Attorney Mitch Payne (David Hedison), who has secret dealings with the gambling operation and has previously won a court case to acquit Johnny Blaze of charges in the murder of Eric Cavette, agrees to defend Calhoun Fletcher in similar fashion, or at least to work with Jessica in the process of posting bail.

Jessica tracks down Rosaline Gardner and her husband, Congressman Brad Gardner (Granville Van Dusen), who's up for re-election and has been involved in the gambling operation, a fact which could damage his chances in the polls. She initially denies entering the locked room on the night of the murder, but eventually reveals that she has done so in order to attempt to purchase Brad's gambling IOU's.

Jessica then tries to tie together all of the conflicting testimony to prove Calhoun's innocence, by snooping around the gambling house for additional clues, before gathering the suspects to stage a final showdown for the costumed Cyrano de Bergerac, who has made the hapless Calhoun Fletcher "The Perfect Foil."

The cast is rounded out by Wendy Oates as Costumed Madame Dracula, Raf Mauro as Costumed Napoleon, Guerin Barry as Costumed Sir Walter Raleigh, Richard Brose as Headsman, Sherry McFarland as Receptionist, and Joe Ross as Desk Clerk.

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Release Date:

13 April 1986 (USA) See more »

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Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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