Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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To Kill a Legend 

Jessica discovers a letter from George Washington that leads to a hero's disgrace and a director's murder.


Anthony Pullen Shaw (as Anthony Shaw)


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 3 more credits »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Todd Eric Andrews Todd Eric Andrews ... Scott Patterson
Greg Cruttwell Greg Cruttwell ... Paul Tavener
Alan Fudge ... Thomas Godfrey
Pierrette Grace Pierrette Grace ... Louise Peabody
Molly Hagan ... Amelia Farnum
Anthony Heald ... Bob Kendall
Judith Hoag ... Nancy Godfrey
Ron Masak ... Sheriff Mort Metzger (as Ron Másak)
Jeffrey Nordling ... Richard Hawkes
Gail Strickland ... Edith Peabody
William Windom ... Dr. Seth Hazlitt
Louis Herthum ... Deputy Andy Broom
Jacob Witkin Jacob Witkin ... Alexander Sandsby
Whitney Rydbeck Whitney Rydbeck ... Dr. Roy Blakely


In London, blackmailer Alexander Sandsby demands his half but gets a blow on the head and perishes in fire that was set. Cabot Cove is preparing for its annual Joshua Peabody day, this time with a TV documentary production. Jessica is reading the text, written by Bostonian hot-shot director Richard Hawkes, who won an Emmy 8 years ago, with a few historical corrections by her own hand. Jessica brings an ideal period prop, a music box, for repairs to Thomas Godfrey, owner of an antique store, who finds the mechanism is jammed by a letter from George Washington dated September 12, 1780, calling the local hero a traitor who accepted enemy payment to cowardly surrender and threatening him with court-martial. Peabody's descendant Edith fails to convince Jessica and Seth to destroy it, raging it ruins everything for her family and the whole town. Experts authenticate it's from the time of the Revolution, but if it's real why did Joshua keep it, and if not, who made such a fine forgery and ... Written by KGF Vissers

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Plot Keywords:

fire | sword | See All (2) »


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

9 October 1994 (USA) See more »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Throughout the early seasons of Murder, She Wrote, the existence of Joshua Peabody is treated as a local legend, with Seth Hazlitt serving as chief skeptic. In this episode, Joshua Peabody is treated as a recognized local figure with living descendants and Seth Hazlitt no longer seems to question whether he really existed. See more »


[first lines]
Alexander Sandsby: Those are my terms, damn it. I receive half the proceeds in your little venture... or you pay the consequences. And I'm sure you realize they'd be very severe... I can't really see that you bloody well have much choice.
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Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: LONDON, ENGLAND See more »

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If Joshua Peobody Leaves Decendants, as Life-Long Citizens of Cabot Cove, then...?
29 December 2009 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

Local citizens in Colonial attire and Revolutionary War uniforms prepare for the annual reenactment of the Battle of Cabot Cove around a statue of town founder Joshua Peobody, a legendary figure whose role as a patriot, in fact his very existence, is often disputed throughout this series, but this time around, he has descendants, a notion often questioned by "MSW" fans.

Edith Peabody (Gail Strickland) and her daughter, Louise Peabody (Pierrette Grace), have been life-long residents of Cabot Cove, Maine, and have participated in its patriotic events along with friends and neighbors as Doctor Seth Hazlitt (William Windom), who acts particularly grouchy as a Boston television crew plans to film the re-enactment for a documentary, for which Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) is scheduled to narrate in her capacity as famous Mystery writer.

Director Richard Hawkes (Jeffrey Nordling) arrives in Cabot Cove with his Documentary crew, Producer Bob Kendall (Anthony Heald), Film Editor Amelia Farnum (Molly Hagan), and Sound Editor Scott Patterson (Todd Eric Andrews), to establish shoppe in a local studio, while filming on location by day, with Louise Peobody serving in the capacity of local Production Assistant.

Jessica visits the antique shoppe operated by Thomas Godfrey (Alan Fudge) and wife, Nancy Godfrey (Judith Hoag), at which she decides that an antique music box would add an authentic accent to her presentation at the podium. However, when she discovers that its mechanisms are jammed, and, therefore, doesn't play the Colonial tune, Thomas Godfrey, a clockmaker by trade, investigates to discover a parchment folded inside, he carefully retrieving this to reveal an 18th Century correspondence from George Washington, denouncing Joshua Peobody as a traitor to the American Independence movement.

While Colonial expert, Doctor Roy Blakely (Whitney Rydbeck) examines the letter to determine whether or not it may be authentic, Nancy Godfrey presents Jessica with the antique bureau with drawers, which she had ordered from Vermont. Thomas reminds Nancy that Jessica is their best customer, and to ascertain that this is exactly what Jessica has in mind even though it has arrived from the U.K. instead of Vermont, as its shipping tag indicates.

But back in the U.K. at the beginning of this episode, Alexander Sandsby (Jacob Witkin) and Jeffrey Caldwell (Greg Cruttwell) have an altercation at a warehouse, which catches fire because of arson. Jeffrey, a convicted forger, manages to escape the flames and head across the pond to the Colonies.

As Joshua Peobody Day filming continues, production encounters one delay after another, with maladies such as the music box incident, a horse's charging from its station, mishaps by Seth and company, and a sound recorder's running out of tape, factors which, together, begin to cost the company extra-budgetary measures, and the powers-that-be inform Producer Bob Kendall to fire Director Richard Hawkes from the project, replacing him with the promotion of Amelia Farnum to Director. Louise decides to leave the crew along with Richard, while her mother, Edith, pleads with Jessica to destroy the letter implicating her ancestor of treason.

Jessica ponders the sudden appearance of this letter, here and now, as discovered in Edith's ancestor's music box. After all, if it were genuine, then why would Joshua have kept it, and if it were a forgery, then what reason could be served by taking such extreme measures? Clearly, Edith and Louise have been unaware of its existence, as such a finding could likely serve only "To Kill a Legend." But that night, when a fire breaks out in the studio, Sheriff Mort Metzger (Ron Masak) and Deputy Andy Broom (Louis Herthum) arrive with the crew to contain the blaze, when they discover a body in a rear office.

Jessica assists the Sheriff and Deputy in the murder investigation, with the help of Bob Kendall and Scott Patterson, while Richard Hawkes reappears and is reinstated as Director, when Alexander Sandsby appears on the scene to approach Richard as a British authority on the American Revolution, specifically having knowledge about Joshua Peobody.

Richard initially brushes him off, but Jessica is interested to hear what Alexander has to say, especially about the body discovered after the British warehouse Arson, as she begins to piece together the clues after someone plants the pipe in Edith Peobody's automobile with no sign of fingerprints although that doesn't stop Sheriff Metzgar from arresting her anyway, figuring that Edith would stop at nothing to prevent anyone "To Kill a Legend" even if she has to bludgeon someone and set a fire.

The cast is rounded out by Tiiu Leek as Newsperson. This episode marks the most recent appearance to date by Pierrette Grace, who has been acting on television since 1986.

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