Awesome Timing: The Bruce Jenner ‘Murder She Wrote’ Episode Was On Last Night
Just a few hours before the world was treated to the cover of this month's Vanity Fair -- the one with Bruce Jenner posing in lingerie and announcing that his name is now Caitlyn -- an historic TV rerun appeared on the Hallmark Channel. Of course I'm referring to the March 2, 1985 episode of Murder, She Wrote, co-starring Bruce Jenner and Dick Butkus.
In "Sudden Death", Jessica (Angela Lansbury) finds herself as part owner of the Jaguars professional football team, in a nondescript league in an unknown state (although by sight, clearly Los Angeles). Jenner plays injured football star Zak Farrell, who is a suspect in the murder of the team's majority owner (who was found dead in a training room hot tub).
Here's our hero as he appeared in the episode:
This also purports to be a still from that episode, although the year is wrong:
Bruce Jenner is on an episode of Murder, She Wrote from 1984 and he was hot stuff pic.twitter.com/rXuysARbKe
— Shelby Waddell (@shelbyy512) July 13, 2014
Hot stuff indeed, for two reasons. Jenner was gold medalist in the Decathlon in the 1976 Olympics, and this episode was less than 10 years later. He was one of the biggest celebrities in the 1970s and '80s, and was seen often on TV -- even appearing as a recurring character on CHiPs as Erik Estrada's replacement for six episodes, while Estrada was in a contract dispute. What, you've never heard of Officer Steve McLeish?
In 1986 Jenner was in an episode of The Love Boat, playing someone named Lover Boy Bob. And why not? Look at those pinup-boy features.
But the Murder, She Wrote episode was his grandest turn of all. Jenner didn't turn out to be the killer, but in his opening scene he did almost flatten Jessica while driving the team bullpen cart, which was built to look like a giant football helmet.
The episode also featured Butkus as "Tank Mason", the "defensive captain" who actually appeared to be a coach. Gary Lockwood, one of the astronauts in 2001: A Space Odyssey, was reduced to playing Football Commissioner Harris Talmadge. I think he turned out be be the killer -- but to be truthful by the time they got to that I wasn't really paying attention.
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