Murder, She Wrote S02E12 (Murder by Appointment Only)

While in New York, Mrs. Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) is caught in a complex murder mystery featuring an unknown lipstick, a former student of hers (Elizabeth, the victim), her shady past and her fiancé, co-owner of Lila Lee, a door-to-door cosmetic company. Always willing to help with the investigation, Jessica and the local lieutenant Varick (Herb Edelman) discuss a jewel-studded lipstick case found on the crime scene, the lipstick in it and the one used to vandalise a portrait of the victim in her apartment.

The lipstick Varick is holding is pale pink, definitely not the bright orange-based red on the portrait.

Norman Amberson (Robert Culp), Elizabeth’s fiancé, confirms Jessica’s observation: the lipstick in the jewel case is Midnight Pink [1].

Later in the episode, Jessica’s nephew Grady (Michael Horton) finds a lipstick in the Lila Lee sales kit.

He thinks he’s found the one, but Jessica disagrees. The shade is not the same. “It’s a little bit too pink”, she says, and we, lipstick lovers, are furiously nodding because we know what she means.

This shade is Tangerine Glow. Still not right. But while checking the complete list of Lila Lee lipstick shades, Jessica finds a code number is missing.

She pretends to be a Lila Lee saleswoman whose customers want the lipstick with the missing code and pays a visit to Mr. Hillsdale (Fred Ponzlov), the chemist who created it.

Hillsdale’s reply sounds like a death toll: that colour has been discontinued. Lila Lee Amberson didn’t like how it looked on the rim of a white cup.

That perfect shade, “not too orangey, not too pink”, was called Tangerine Twist [2].

Here lies the solution of the mystery. The discontinued lipstick was used at a photoshoot, confiscated by Lila Lee Amberson (remember that she hated it) and passed to her brother, Elizabeth’s fiancé. At this point the murderer’s identity is clear, right?

[1] Maybelline did a bright pink lipstick with the same name. Maybe this episode served as source of inspiration.

[2] Jafra did a frost orange lipstick with the same name.

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