Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Town Father 

Scandal abounds during election time in Cabot Cove when the Mayor is reputed to have a secret wife who comes to confront him with murderous results.


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


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Julie Adams ... Eve Simpson
Orson Bean ... Ebeneezer McEnery
John Considine ... Horton Thayer
Gloria DeHaven ... Phyllis Grant
Kathryn Grayson ... Ideal Molloy
Basil Hoffman ... Milton Overguard
William Lanteau William Lanteau ... Howard
Ron Masak ... Sheriff Mort Metzger
Richard Paul ... Mayor Sam Booth
Lee Purcell ... Annie Mae Chapman
Ruth Roman ... Loretta Spiegel
Holland Taylor ... Winifred Thayer
William Windom ... Dr. Seth Hazlitt
Sally Klein Sally Klein ... Corinne


All Cabot Cove expected complacent, lazy Mayor Sam Booth to be reelected again as more than 80% stay at home and the others want nothing to change, but then Annie Mae Chapman turns up from Wyoming, claiming Sam has promised to marry her, which he categorically denies. Jessica is solicited to run for mayor, which she refuses to do, but Eve Simpson, the town Realtor now throws her hat in the ring, as the election seems open. When Annie Mae is murdered, Jessica realizes this might just be a ploy to smear Sam and get a pro-development mayor elected. The gossiping takes unexpected twists and turns until the truth finally comes to light. Written by KGF Vissers corrected by Canadazbest

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

17 December 1989 (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?


Final acting project for both Ruth Roman and Kathryn Grayson. See more »


[first lines]
Jessica Fletcher: A-ha, Seth.
Dr. Seth Hazlitt: I'm feeling hearty this morning, Jess. What do you say we go for a mile and a quarter, huh?
Jessica Fletcher: Perfect, if we walk towards town. I have a haircut a Loretta's.
Dr. Seth Hazlitt: As long as I don't have to go inside.
Jessica Fletcher: I'll just get my purse.
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User Reviews

When Should a Politician "Do Nothing?"
19 October 2009 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

This episode marks the swan song appearance for Ruth Roman, star of Classic film and television since 1943, and the next to last performances by Charles Woolf, who began his acting career in 1947. William Lanteau, Richard Paul have also since passed. This episode also marks the recent appearance for Kathryn Grayson, who began her film and television acting career in 1941, and for Sally Klein, who began her acting career in 1981.

As Cabot Cove prepares for its biannual mayoral election, candidate Milton Overguard (Basil Hoffman) campaigns on a reform platform to challenging long-time "do nothing" incumbent Mayor Sam Booth (Richard Paul in his fifth of seven appearances in the role).

Regulars at Loretta's Beauty Parlor, Loretta Spiegel (Ruth Roman in her third of three appearances in the role), Phyllis Grant (Gloria DeHaven in her third of three appearances), Ideal Molloy (Kathryn Grayson in her third of three appearances), Corinne (Sally Klein in her third of three appearances) and Eve Simpson (Julie Adams in her fourth of ten "MSW" appearances), contemplate over the notion that what Cabot Cove needs is a female mayor, discussing this notion around the community.

Some around town also attempt to recruit a reluctant Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury in her 121st of 264 "MSW" appearances) and an equally-reluctant Doctor Seth Hazlitt (William Windom in his 24th of 52 appearances in the role) to campaign for the position especially after Eve Simpson announces her candidacy for a now three-way race for the office.

Winifred Thayer (Holland Taylor) arrives at the Loretta's salon amid whispers regarding her snobbery, whereas her husband, Horton Thayer (John Considine), is considerably friendly toward residence of this community, to which they often host wealthy out-of-towner's from Morgan's Bay. Horton tries to convince mayoral candidates to plan to construct an airstrip longer and wider than the current landing field, to access direct flights from Boston and New York City, to the objection of many, including "do nothing" Mayor Sam Booth.

City Councilmen Ebeneezer McEnery (Orson Bean in his second of two appearances in the role) and Howard (William Lanteau) maintain satisfaction with status quo conditions, as Sam invariably provides the swing vote to keep Cabot Cove from zoning changes and civic development projects.

Enter sweet, innocent Annie Mae Chapman (Lee Purcell), from Casper, Wyoming, who makes her presence known around the community, before attending one of Sam's outdoor speeches, and claiming to be the fiancée whom he meets every July on his fishing excursions--and also the mother of his five young children, Gladys, Randolph, Fitzroy, Clementine and Sam Junior.

Tongues naturally begin to wag around the caucuses, especially when Eve Simpson hosts her reception to lure the female vote away from the others. One problem with her strategy centers around the fact that married women do not warm up to Eve because she warms up to their husbands, and even Eve's closest friends decide that Eve Simpson as Mayor would be the worst thing that could ever happen to Cabot Cove.

One morning later, gossip mongers gear into full force after a body is discovered at a local motel along with $2,000 in cash in an envelope upon the nightstand.

Accusations begin to fly across the campaign trail as Sheriff Mort Metzger (Ron Masak in his ninth of 39 appearances in the role) (this time without any deputy) enlists Jessica's help, who follows a trail of clues through the beauty shoppe set, the campaign camps and the out-of-towner clique in this case of accusations against "Town Father."

The cast is rounded out by Mabel (Phyllis Franklin) and Fulton (Charles Woolf) at the Thayers' reception, 1st Lady (Courtenay McWhinney) and 2nd Lady (Sheila Pinkham) at the campaign speech, and Eve's Party Guest (Barbara Perry), who comments how well the twins in the photograph resemble Sam Booth.

What this episode loses for its murder most brutal, it gains for its guest cast of beloved townsfolk characters and its attempt at comic relief.

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