The series about mystery writer-cum-sleuth Jessica Fletcher ran for 12 years between 1984 and 1996 and featured thousands of guest actors. But only some of those who appeared with Angela Lansbury have gone on to become megastars. Do you remember any of them on the show?
Is there a TV show Clooney wasn’t in? He played Kip Howard in third season episode ‘No Laughing Murder’, the son of a celebrated comedian who has fallen in love with his dad’s partner-turned-arch-enemy.
Don’t worry, he doesn’t turn out to the murderer, just a bemulleted youngster in love.
Quite why the ‘Dark Knight Rises’ star didn’t win an Emmy for his portrayal of Boy #1 in 1990 ep ‘Shear Madness’ is one of the great mysteries of television.
As you can see, he disembarks a bus with poise, skill and noticeable X factor.
It’s easy to forget the 60-year-old was a journeyman TV actor for some time before becoming the Oscar-nominated star he is today.
Cranston has actually appeared in ‘Murder, She Wrote’ three times in 1986, 1990 and 1996, but we’re particular fans of his first performance alongside ‘Terminator’ actress Linda Hamilton, in which he plays a character called Brian East wearing a delicious Nike tracksuit (he’s a tennis player, okay?).
Unfortunately he gets blown up by a car bomb early doors, but thanks to Jessica, he is avenged!
Before transitioning, Caitlyn was known as Bruce Jenner and was a former athlete-turned-actor who’d appeared in the classically awful Village People movie ‘Can’t Stop The Music’.
In ‘Murder’, she played Zak, in a first season episode in which Jess Fletcher improbably became one of the owners of a lower league American football team.
It was likely supposed to be a searing indictment of professional sport during the 1980s, but Caitlyn and Kardashian fans will be pleased to know that Zak didn’t do it.
Academy Award nominee Joaquin was just humble Leaf when he essayed the role of Billy Donovan alongside his real-life sister Summer in the show’s seventh ever episode.
He is generally on the periphery of things when great-aunt Jessica arrives at his house in Kansas and people promptly start getting offed, as they tend to do every time Fletch goes anywhere. Still, he looks cute throughout the ordeal.
Neil Patrick Harris
That hairdo screams 1990s – curtains! – which is apt as Harris showed up playing Tommy Remsen in a 1993 episode called ‘Lone Witness’.
Coming off the back of ‘Doogie Howser’, this was clearly the performer trying to demonstrate his adult acting chops – taking on the harrowing role of a delivery boy wrongly accused of murder.
Okay, so in this one, Jessica is visiting yet another relative called Carol (her niece in the Phoenix episode has that name), only this time it’s her grand-niece, played by Courteney.
This double episode to launch season three is actually very exciting and features Fletcher arriving for the wedding of Cox, who reveals she’s received a leprechaun trinket from her dead grandfather. JB takes that as a cue to visit a circus where she discovers her brother-in-law (aka said grandpa) still very much alive having faked his own death to work in the big top for various reasons.
In the end, everyone is reunited and Cox is super-happy, particularly that ghosts haven’t been sending her creepy statues.
The man who played Jesus in ‘The Passion of the Christ’ and who now plys his trade on JJ Abrams’ show ‘Person of Interest’ guest starred alongside Lansbury in a 1995 episode called ‘Film Flam’ (puns are a big part of the ‘MSW’ naming process’).
As an aspiring actor – look, you can tell by the way he’s reading trade paper Variety! – Caviezel’s clearly wondering how long it will take him to make it. The answer is three years, Jimbo, that’s when you’ll get your breakthrough in ‘The Thin Red Line’.
Some of the other notables that also had guest roles include…
- Ernest Borgnine
- Martin Landau
- Mickey Rooney
- Andy García
- Jackie Earle Haley
- Anthony Michael Hall
- Cynthia Nixon
- Tippi Hedren
- Ricardo Montalban
- Robert Vaughn
- Leslie Nielsen
Image credits: CBS