Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Good-Bye Charlie 

Jessica narrates her newest novel about a bumbling private eye and his girlfriend inadvertently solving a murder by trying to cash in on a dead relative's will.


Anthony Pullen Shaw (as Anthony Shaw)


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 3 more credits »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Michael Callan ... Bart Mahoney
Bryan Cranston ... Jerry Wilber
Lise Cutter Lise Cutter ... Tillie Bascomb
John Finnegan ... Uncle Charlie
Faith Ford ... Sunny Albertson
David Huddleston ... Sheriff Ed Ten Eyck
Clyde Kusatsu ... Jack Yamoto
Bill Maher ... Frank Albertson
Ernie Lively ... Jake
Robin Bach ... Lon Ainsley
Ronny Graham ... Clarence
Tessa Richarde Tessa Richarde ... Doreen
Scott Palmer ... Raymond Fleischer
Stanley Grover Stanley Grover ... Businessman


Jessica tells her newest book plot, in which a private investigator, who is so unsuccessful he and his girl fiend are about to be evicted, learn his missing uncle Charles Kenneth Anderson, a bum who sponged on them for a few years and then took off, has inherited a fortune from an old flame, but it can't be paid until he's declared legally dead in five more years. They decide to fake his demise by claiming a John Doe and go for one in Huckabee, Nevada. Alas, Sheriff Ed Ten Eyck is most suspicious as the same body is claimed by two other parties and murder seems a definite possibility. After painstakingly getting out of jail and rid of the competition, they get another surprise. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

7 January 1990 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This is the second and last appearance of Bill Maher and his mullet on Murder, She Wrote (1984). His first appearance was in Murder, She Wrote: Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble (1989) as a slimy media promoter. See more »


[first lines]
Jessica Fletcher: Oh, hello. You caught me at the tail end of my newest book. I've been at it almost ten hours a day for the past week and I am sore from my fingers to my back and, uh, elsewhere.
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Murder She Wrote Theme
Written by John Addison
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Who's Railroading Whom?
10 October 2009 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

This episode marks one of the last appearances by Robin Bach, who began his career in film and television in 1970, and who has roles in five "MSW" episodes. Stanley Grover and Ronny Graham have also since passed.

Although Angela Lansbury appears in each of the 264 episodes (265 hours) throughout this series, there are sixteen episodes in which Jessica's participation is minimal. In Season Three, we see the first of these, in which Jessica introduces an "adaptation" of one of her mystery books. Two additional such episodes follow in Season Six. In Season Four, we see an episode regarding Emma McGill without her cousin Jessica. In Season Six, we find an episode in which Grady and Donna discover a body while watching Aunt Jessica's residence while she is off to visit Cousin Emma in London. The remaining eleven of these episodes lie toward the center of the series and have come to be known as "Bookend Episodes," in which Jessica introduces a guest detective and later usually summarizes with an epilogue.

"Goodbye Charlie" is one of the three "adaptations" from the mysteries of J.B. Fletcher presented as an episode. For those keeping a body count, these three "fictional" accounts apart from Jessica's "reality" may or may not count among them. But writing about murder is Jessica's forte, and so onto her story....

It all begins in Hollywood, California, where a Businessman (Stanley Grover) escorts a Bimbo (Elizabeth Holmes) into a hotel room, but they are halted by the flashing of a camera bulb, aimed by private detective Frank Albertson (Maher). Jessica describes him as "a lost soul looking for one shot at the brass ring." (Why Jessica would name a character after a Classic Film actor remains a mystery in and of itself.) A defeated Frank returns to his apartment to feel salt in his wounds upon his discovering his wife, Sunny Albertson's (Faith Ford) speaking with a gentleman, Raymond Fleischer (Scott Palmer), in their private quarters, going through monogrammed personal effects belonging to Frank's uncle. Raymond, however, represents a legal firm handling the will of an Elizabeth from Detroit, who has left a sizable amount to her former beau, Charles Kenneth Albertson (John Finnegan). Frank and Sunny remain the only surviving relatives of their missing Uncle Charlie, who came to visit with them five years prior and stayed for three years, but has now been missing for more than two years, and was last heard from when staying in Reno, Nevada.

After Raymond tells them to get back to him in five years (because a person must be missing for seven years before being declared legally deceased), Frank comes up with an idea after reading a newspaper account of an unidentified body which had been hit by a train and discovered upon the railroad tracks in Huckabee, Nevada. He convinces Sunny to go along with his scheme to claim the body as their dearly departed Uncle Charlie.

From Hollywood, they telephone the office of the Huckabee County Coroner, Jack Yamoto (Clyde Kusatsu), to receive his assistant, Lon Ainsley (Robin Bach), to chart clues from alternate calls by Frank and Sunny.

But after Frank and Sunny head to Huckabee, Nevada, to represent themselves as the body's next of kin before Sheriff Ed Ten Eyck (David Huddleston), the Sheriff informs them that two other parties have also lain claim to the body. Aside, Frank tells Sunny that he could accept either party's claim, but, because there are two, somebody is lying, so now he must get a cut of the action.

Marcia Mae Bailey (Lisa Melilli), who reports her father missing, is represented by shyster attorney Bart Mahoney (Michael Callan), who pulls all of the punches to maintain that "poor little Marcia Mae" could make a jury weep as an orphan child. Bartender Jake (Ernie Lively) overhears the conversation and later provides Frank and Sunny a clue toward Marcia Mae's abandonment of innocence.

Tillie Bascomb (Lise Cutter) also claims the body as that of her husband, Mort Bascomb, who owned a micro-chip computer company with the assistance of her cousin Jerry Wilber (Bryan Cranston). Mort's wallet was obviously thrust from his pocket by the impact of the locomotive, she decides, giving Frank and Sunny an idea to scatter Charlie's monogrammed personal effects around the railroad tracks later that evening.

Frank then convinces Sheriff Eyck to enlist his son-in-law, Coach Lyle Coogan (Don Brunner), to employ the local youth team to scout the railroad tracks "to discover" Charlie's personal effects, thus giving the Sheriff an excuse to close the case in favor of the Albertsons, until he changes his mind and arrests Frank, tossing him into the slammer with hobo Clarence (Ronny Graham), who gives Frank an idea about the victim's shoes, which were discovered beside the body.

Sunny, too, gets into the act of investigating, and acts upon Jake's insinuation to trail Marcia Mae to the market, thus giving Frank a chance to investigate Tillie and Jerry, while the Sheriff continues to investigate everyone, thus leading to the discovery of another body, deciding that the second and the first are both victims of murder.

This episode begins with Jessica's describing one of her characters as "Bimbo" and ends with a very similar character named Doreen (Tessa Richarde).

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