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

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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

Jessica Fletcher and the hypnotist
9 July 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Have always been quite fond of 'Murder She Wrote'. It is a fun and relaxing watch that makes you think as you try to unwind in the evening. If one wants more complex, twisty mysteries with lots of tension and suspense 'Murder She Wrote' may not be for you, but if you want something light-hearted and entertaining but still provide good mysteries 'Murder She Wrote' fits the bill just fine.

As far as Season 1 episodes go (a decent season overall but understandably with a still settling vibe), "Death Casts a Spell" for me was one of the best up to this point alongside "The Murder of Sherlock Holmes", "Lovers and Other Killers" and "Hit, Run and Homicide", though up to this point not one of the episodes has been a stinker.

"Death Casts a Spell" is very slickly filmed with typically attractive locations and fashions. The music has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune.

The writing, apart from one line, is charmingly light-hearted, gently amiable and down to earth but provokes thought too. The quote of "Death Casts a Spell" has got to be "I took my clothes off on a swing, that doesn't make me a daredevil!". Just priceless. The story is compelling, with a great set up and clever murder, which for the show before and since pretty unique.

Angela Lansbury is terrific in one of her best remembered roles (one of the roles that is most closely associated with me at any rate). Jose Ferrer (playing a scumbag to classy perfection), Robert Loggia, Murray Hamilton and Diane Canova give the best support performances.

My only complaint for the episode was the sloppiness of how the motive was revealed, a fairly obvious motive and one that Jessica should have been able to figure out easily.

Otherwise, great. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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