Growing up in a small town was murder for Big Gay Horror Fan. Of course, murder in a tiny hamlet takes on a totally different meaning when one considers Angela Lansbury’s Jessica Fletcher and the long running television series Murder She Wrote (1984-1996).
Based around a spunky mystery writer who uncovers crimes in her small seaside burg, the show revitalized Lansbury’s career for a second time. (British Lansbury had kicked around Hollywood in the 40’s, portraying everything from damsels in distress to deadly femme fatales, without ever establishing a significant niche. Her Broadway portrayal of eccentric, loving Mame in 1966 finally gave her an iconic role to stake her name upon.) The show’s extended run eventually allowed her character many adventures in such locales as New York City, Los Angeles, England and Ireland, as well.
What is most interesting about the show for terror titans, though, is the amazing number of actors known for their work in horror who found themselves under Lansbury/Fletcher’s watchful suspense writer’s gaze.
The end of the show’s 8th season and the beginning of the 9th found eclectic sequel queen Caroline Williams (Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, Leprechaun III, Stepfather 2, and Rob Zombie’s Halloween II) outlining two very different roles.
On Murder on Madison Avenue (Season 8, Episode 22), Williams portrays Amanda North, an ambitious ad executive who is wooed away from her neglectful but faithful partner-boyfriend. As Williams works with a sensitive determination here, genre fans will also rejoice in the participation of Leo Rossi (known for his steamy death with Pamela Susan Shoop in the original Halloween 2) as a semi-bumbling detective who investigates the murder of a high powered media queen involved with creating a board game based on the seemingly tireless Fletcher’s novels.
Family Secrets (Season 9, Episode 2), allows Williams more creativity, though. With only one episode separating her appearances on the show, Williams is virtually unrecognizable to those who only knew her from her previous stint on the series. As well-to-do Janet Weymouth, she not only changes her hair style but modulates her speech pattern significantly. Her tones here are softer, seductive and very controlled, creating a truly unique character.
Playing the daughter of a regal Cabot Cove resident named Emily, portrayed by 50’s movie and television maven Phyllis Thaxter (No Man Of Her Own, Alfred Hitchcock Presents), Williams has more to do in this scenario, as well. As one of Jessica’s former writing students uncovers secrets in the Weymouth family, Janet loses her composure in one explosive moment, proving beyond a doubt what a varied performer she is – something those on the fright circuit have known all along.
Be sure to check back in the future for further explorations into Horror She Wrote!
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Until the next time –SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!