One in this 1970's television revival of this mystery series detailing the investigations of mystery writer Ellery Queen and his father, police inspector Richard Queen.

During a funeral held for Sam Packer, producer of a new burlesque show, a film of Packer recorded prior to his death is played. In it, he foresees his own death via murder and names several of the assembled guests as suspects: his wife Jennifer, the burlesque comedian Risky Ross, the star of the show Veronica "Ronnie" Vale, and the financial backer Gregory Layton. Packer knows all this because he has been nearly killed in various "accidents" as of late and is almost certain that his health is not to blame; he is in relatively good health despite his ulcer. He further instructs that his friend Simon Brimmer be the one to investigate the mystery of who murdered him, explaining that a letter kept in a secret vault will be delivered to him as per his instructions.

Jennifer goes to Ellery, her old friend, to get him to help her clear her name. She insists that despite popular rumors, she did not marry Packer only for his money but had a genuine affection for him until their marriage fell apart when he devoted himself entirely to the theater. Packer died deeply in debt and Jennifer was hoping to use his life insurance to help pay it off, but if she is unsure that she will receive it due to being implicated as a suspect. Richard visits Brimmer while he rehearses his radio show, demanding that he hand over the letter from Packer. Brimmer claims he never received it and insists that the police stay out of the matter, calling it a "private murder." He also notes that the autopsy revealed no evidence of murder. Meanwhile, Ellery visits the burlesque theater during rehearsal and asks Ronnie some questions; Packer was found dead in her dressing room. She, however, is more concerned with the disappearance of her pet parrot Galahad; she trained Galahad to be a part of her act. At the time Packer was murdered, she claims she went outside to make a phone call and returned to find him dead and Galahad missing.

Ellery has Jennifer obtain Packer's film for him and he reviews it at home. Richard points out the lack of evidence that a murder took place at all, and the police have reason to believe the entire incident is a publicity stunt on Packer's part. However, he and Ellery receive a call from the police coroner, having just completed a more thorough biochemical survey of Packer's body, revealing that he was poisoned with cyanide. Brimmer is aware of this development and calls the suspects together on stage to reveal that he received Packer's letter, indicating that it contains incriminating evidence against all of them. Before he can reveal anything further, Richard interrupts and demands that he turn over the letter. In private, Brimmer reveals he does not have it: the messenger who was to deliver Packer's letter was intercepted and the letter stolen. Brimmer hoped that his bluff would compel the murderer to confess.

Back home, Ellery and Richard contemplate how Packer was poisoned. They believe the cyanide was added to something he drank, but it evidence suggests he was not drinking anything at the time of his death and there was no easy access to beverages in the theater. Ellery believes he was poisoned in the room itself and died very shortly thereafter. Layton arrives to dispute what he believes Packer said in his letter. He reveals that he has been secretly seeing Ronnie under the pretense of preparing her for more serious acting roles. Packer found several of their letters and threatened to reveal them to Layton's wife unless he offered financial support for the burlesque show.

Jennifer overdoses on sleeping pills and is sent to the hospital. Ellery and Richard question her there. She reveals that Packer believed she was having an affair and denies it. However, she does confess to accruing a massive gambling debt; she hopes to pay it off with Packer's life insurance money. Richard believes that is a sound motive for murder, but Ellery again promises to help clear her name. Next, Richard and Ellery interrogate Ross. Richard reveals that many years ago Ross was known as "Joey Flanders," and in his youth he was a thief and a runner for the rackets. Richard was a young cop at that time and nearly arrested Joey, but was convinced to let him go, a decision which Richard regrets. Ross wanted to go into television but Packer found out about his criminal background and used it to blackmail him into joining the burlesque show instead. Ross admits that he wanted to kill Packer, but couldn't bring himself to do it.

Ellery finds out from Pop, the stage manager, that a soda machine downstairs could have provided Packer with a beverage, but Ellery discovers it is out of order. Meanwhile, Brimmer carries on his own independent investigation. Ellery questions Ronnie and she tells the story of how she got started in show-business and how she incorporated Galahad into her act. She says she threatened to kill Packer in jest when he was contemplating taking her out of the show. She also alludes to her affair with Layton. Ellery theorizes that whoever killed Packer also killed Galahad, fearing that he might recognize the killer and squawk his name. However, Ronnie explains that this is not the case since Galahad's vocabulary was too limited. Later, with Pop's help, Ellery is able to ascertain Packer's exact position in Ronnie's dressing room both immediately before and after his death, as well as the locations of all the suspects. With this new information, Ellery believes he has solved the case.

The show's opening night arrives and Brimmer delays the opening curtain by calling all the suspects into the theater's green room. Ellery and Richard arrive just in time to hear Brimmer's accusation: he believes that Pop is the one who murdered Packer. He explains that many years ago Pop was an actor named "Alexander Denny" who starred in Packer's first major hit show. Packer had too much to drink during the after-party and insisted on driving home. He got into an accident; while Packer escaped unharmed Denny's leg was severely injured and it ruined his acting career. Packer kept Pops on his payroll over the years out of guilt, but Brimmer asserts that Pop waited all those long years to get revenge on Packer.

Ellery insists this is not the case and points out several flaws in Brimmer's conclusions. Ellery then reveals his own conclusions: he believes Packer was killed by aerosolized cyanide sprayed from a bug-sprayer used as a prop in the burlesque show. He accuses Ross of being the culprit. Based on Packer's position in the room, Ellery believes that Ross also got cyanide in Galahad's face, killing him. He deduces that Ross realized the dead parrot could be used as evidence against him and hid the parrot in his costume, dumping it into a sewer. Richard and Ellery further accuse him of being the one who intercepted Packer's letter and having the motive of getting revenge on Packer for ruining his career. Ross confesses and the police arrest him. The episode ends as the police also arrest the women in the burlesque show after Ronnie gets carried away and strips onstage. Commercials deleted.


  • DATE: November 13, 1975 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:50:10
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: B:03319
  • GENRE: Drama, mystery/suspense
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Drama, mystery/suspense
  • SERIES RUN: NBC - TV series, 1975-1976


    • Richard Levinson … Executive Producer, Developed by
    • William Link … Executive Producer, Developed by
    • Peter S. Fischer … Producer
    • Michael Rhodes … Producer
    • Seymour Robbie … Director
    • Robert Pirosh … Writer
    • Ellery Queen … Based on characters created by
    • Elmer Bernstein … Music by
    • Jim Hutton … Cast, Ellery Queen
    • David Wayne … Cast, Inspector Richard Queen
    • Julie Adams … Cast, Jennifer Packer
    • Jack Carter … Cast, Risky Ross
    • William Demarest … Cast, Pop
    • Don Porter … Cast, Gregory Layton
    • Barbara Rhoades … Cast, Veronica "Ronnie" Vale
    • John Hillerman … Cast, Simon Brimmer
    • George Burns … Cast, Sam Packer
    • Tom Reese … Cast, Sgt. Velie
    • Hayden Rorke … Cast, Marcus Brady
    • Joshua Shelley … Cast, Dick Bowie
    • Peter Hobbs … Cast, Dr. Steiner
    • John Dennis … Cast, Tolson
    • John H. Lawlor … Cast, Director
    • Romo Vincent … Cast, Gus Banana
    • Pat Sturges … Cast, DoDo