Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Death Casts a Spell 

A popular nightclub hypnotist is discovered murdered during a private press-call.


Allen Reisner


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 4 more credits »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Diana Canova ... Joan Germaine
José Ferrer ... Cagliostro (as Jose Ferrer)
Murray Hamilton ... Bud Michaels
Robert Hogan ... Lt. Bergkamp
Conrad Janis ... Dr. Yambert
Elaine Joyce ... Sheri Diamond
Brian Kerwin ... Andy Townsend
Robert Loggia ... Joe Kellijian
Mayf Nutter Mayf Nutter ... Zack Bernard
Michelle Phillips ... Regina Kellijian
Elvia Allman ... Elderly Lady
Rance Howard ... Fillmore
Ritchie Montgomery ... Busboy
Alex Rebar ... Hypnotist


English hypnotist Cagliastro is fired by casino-hotel-owner Joe Kellijian, because he does his glamorous wife Regina. Jessica saves her editor's assistant Joan Germaine's bacon covering for making a date for her with Cagliostro as inspiration for another mystery book. They overhear the master dare local press journalists Bud Michaels and rookie Andy Townsend to be hypnotized before a revealing interviewer so they won't remember a word unless he's a charlatan as they claim, Joan gets them invited too but they're late; when the door is opened after a scary bang, Cagliostro lies dead, the six journalists (Bud sent Andy in his place) are hypnotized motionless. Fortunately for the startled police detective Lt. Bergkamp, Jessica is as resourceful and inspired as ever after Dr. Yambert proves hypnosis works even on her, but nobody seems to have both motive and opportunity... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

30 December 1984 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


[first lines]
Cagliostro: Ladies and gentlemen, observe the power of hypnosis! Now, volunteers, when I clap my hands, you will each become your favorite animal.
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Murder She Wrote Theme
Written by John Addison
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User Reviews

Knife, Watch, Fireplace Poker -- Jackpot
29 August 2009 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

This episode is set at a Lake Tahoe resort, but whether upon the Nevada or the California side isn't revealed. However, because "Elderly Lady" (Elvia Allman) greets Jessica at the slot machines, one may safely bet upon Nevada.

When Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) arrives to meet publisher's assistant Marilyn, she is greeted by Marilyn's assistant Joan Germaine (Diana Canova), who says that she didn't think that Jessica would meet if she knew that the invitation were forged. Joan's reason is to attempt to convince Jessica to write a Mystery based upon Hypnosis, as practiced by the Great Cagliostro (José Ferrer), who is set to perform at the lodge this evening.

Mrs. Fletcher, in turns, informs Joan that she has no interest in pursuing the matter, but she would stay for the evening now that she's here and not report Joan to the publisher for misrepresentation. Together, they watch Cagliostro's performance, which the enthusiastic Joan records upon audiotape.

Jessica and Joan observe as Cagliostro and his entourage, assistant Sheri Diamond (Elaine Joyce) and bodyguard Zack Bernard (Mayf Nutter) join him in the dining room. where Regina Kellijian (Michelle Phillips) enters and exits, after catching Cagliostro's eye.

Regina's husband, hotel owner Joe Kellijian (Robert Loggia) threatens Cagliostro for chasing after Regina, and attempts to cancel his appearance contract.

Reporters Bud Michaels (Murray Hamilton) and Andy Townsend (Brian Kerwin) have an exchange with Cagliostro, who promises to prove that he's no phony, by welcoming them to his room to grant them an interview under hypnosis.

An apparently drunken Bud tells Andy to round up some of the local reporters, six of whom arrive in time to undergo Cagliostro's experiment in a locked hotel room.

Afterwards, Joan, once again, appeals to Jessica's sense of "Writer's Curiosity" to remain on hand to help to solve a resulting murder.

With the assistance of Psychologist Doctor Lambert (Conrad Janis), Jessica helps Lieutenant Bertcam (Robert Hogan) to follows a trail of treachery, deceit and blackmail, as she questions a long list of suspects, who surely do look guilty, hiding secrets of their own after "Death Casts a Spell."

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