Burke's Law

Season 2 Episode 10

Who Killed the Tall One in the Middle?

Aired Friday 8:30 PM Nov 25, 1964 on ABC

Episode Recap

The Harmony West nightclub announces the appearance of the De Armand Sisters, with a picture of the three women at the entrance. In the club, owner Don Kyles whispers nervously to the maitre d'. Backstage Renee De Armand sulks as Lana De Armand enters and shakes her head in disgust. Lou Manzini, manager for the act, tells Kyles that Alicia has never been late in 8 years; an angry Kyles responds that she picked a fine time to do it because the place is packed. When Manzini suggests the other two sisters cover until Alicia arrives, Kyles says they'd bomb - it would be like advertising Custer and the Indians without Custer. Kyles threatens to cancel the act if Alicia doesn't show up in three minutes. Alicia finally arrives in a taxi. She gets out looking ill, pays the driver, walks right by every one backstage without a word and goes to her dressing room. Kyles asks Manzini if Alicia's trying to dig a grave for Lana and Renee, as an impatient crowd out front starts to clap rhythmically. The lights dim and Kyles announces "the world's number 1 sister act". The curtain rises and, as the three begin their first number begins, "Get Out of My Way, World", Alicia suddenly falls to the floor, dead. A woman screams.

We cut to a horror film, showing a woman screaming. Burke and his date, Cindy, are having a private screening, but kiss without looking once at the screen. When the screaming continues, Cindy goes to turn off the projector. A huge sheepdog, Mr. Baxter suddenly leaps onto the sofa, taking her place, and starts licking Burke's face. When Cindy returns to the sofa, Mr. Baxter is all over her, really slobbering on them both. Cindy escorts Mr. Baxter out of the room and asks Burke where they were. They kiss. Cindy is supposed to be watching the film as the studio's "sounding board" - she's Miss Average and screens all the studios films to give them her reaction. Burke comments that as her daddy runs the bank that finances the studio, she's hardly Miss Average. The call comes from the club and, as Burke leaves, he tells Cindy to keep a light in the projector for him. As Cindy goes back to watching the film, Mr. Baxter comes bounding back.

It's determined Alicia has been poisoned by an unknown substance; Burke orders the club closed and finds that the sisters have been sent home. Tim tells Burke that Manzini is taking Alicia's death really hard.


Manzini is at the bar, getting drunk. He tells Burke that people think all Alicia meant to him was a buck. 8 years ago the sisters were doing one-night stands, Manzini found them and made them the highest paid sister act in the world. Now it's all down the drain. He says the other two don't work without Alicia; she was the guts of the act and the other two were just window dressing. What will happen to them is what happened to the Edsel.

Kyles, however, tells Burke that Alicia and Manzini had a running quarrel in the last few days, but they shut up every time he came near. Burke tells Tim to leave Manzini alone; without Alicia he's a loser.

The lab report tells Burke that Alicia died of 1 grain of strychnine mixed with alcohol; she could have been poisoned any time up to 5 hours before her death. Tim is compiling a list of suspects - he says the 3 sisters live apart - and Burke sends him off to investigate the last 5 hours of Alicia's life.

In a beach house in Malibu, Burke listens to a recording of the sisters. Lana serves drinks and asks if the music bothers him. She says that record sold over a million copies; now it's just a collector's item. Lana excuses herself and Burke tells her that grief comes in all sizes. On the contrary, Lana says she can't remember a single day she didn't want Alicia dead, because Alicia was a reminder that Lana had no talent. Lana was the lead singer 8 years ago; they had no success until Alicia was made the star. But she says why kick fame, it's a lot easier to be frustrated and successful than to be frustrated and broke. Lana says she has no talent and no courage. She was home all alone before going to the club. As Burke leaves, Lana violently scratches the record that was playing.

Renee is not home. At Alicia's apartment, Burke finds that Yates Dudley had phoned her the day before, she returned his call, and left. Dudley is a real estate agent for Rolling Acres development project. At Rolling Acres, Tim notices Dudley across the road talking to Renee, who sits behind the wheel of her car. She leaves and Dudley comes over, pushily trying to sell Tim and Les some property. Gives them a big spiel and his card. When the identify themselves, he says what s shame it is about Alicia. He's depressed; he worked in a picture with all 3 sisters 3 years ago. Tim seems surprised that Dudley used to be an actor; Dudley gets huffy and says he still is - he only does real estate between pictures. He claims he never saw Alicia yesterday, only talked to her on the phone. He insists this is true and tells them to try a lie detector, truth serum, anything on him. As they leave, he's still trying to sell them a house.

At the club the sisters are trying out a replacement singer on "Get Out of My Way, World". The replacement can't get the moves right. Manzini is disgusted and leaves; Kyles sighs and tells Burke he'll probably have to cancel the act and try to find a replacement. Meanwhile, in the dressing room, a hood is viciously beating up Manzini. Burke knocks on the door and the hood leaps out the window.

In the hospital, Manzini insists he can't describe his attacker, but Burke refuses to believe him. Burke confronts him with his argument with Alicia. Manzini says he's an idiot and a compulsive gambler. He lost at dice to the big boys and still owes them $40,000. He sold his part of the act. Alicia found out and raised hell, because clubs to want to book mob-owned acts. The hood was just informing Manzini that the deal was cancelled now that Alicia is dead (the act is worthless now) and Manzini still owes them large.

Jackie Mears, song-and-dance comic, is the new act at the club. Kyles says he told the sisters to get Phil Ross, their old arranger who made the act work in the first place, to work up a new act for them. He says they won't listen and can't make decisions on their own.

At Renee's home, she is seen smearing huge globs of paint on Alicia's face in a painting of the 3 sisters. Dominic De Armand says for shame. Renee tells him to "go home, pop" and leave her alone - everybody dies. Dominic tells her she's cold, there's no blood only ice. When Burke enters, Dominic glares at him and says "another one, even at a time like this" and stalks out. It seems nothing matters to Renee but men. She walks up and kisses Burke passionately before he even identifies himself. And when he does, she says what's in a name? she didn't ask for credentials. Renee tells Burke that she has a date but can break it for him. Burke asks her if Dudley is the date; Renee says they're no more than friends. She says it's "over" for Alicia; she hated her but didn't kill her. Renee calls Alicia "Miss Holier-than-thou, the Queen of Disapproval". Alicia disliked Renee's "friendly nature". Renee kisses Burke again. Alicia also hated Renee's paintings, said they were an example of her sickness (we don't see but assume they are male nudes) and made her go to a shrink. Renee tells Burke the psychiatrist "was beautiful". Burke leaves and Renee comments that "they always come back", as the sisters sing on tape in the background.

As Burke listens to a tape of the sisters' act, Tim calls and says he found a photo of Dudley at the club signed "To my dearest Renee, all my love forever". Burke returns and confronts Renee. She admits Dudley is her lover. Burke tells Renee that Dudley phoned Alicia; if he needed money why didn't he call her? Renee tells him Alicia stopped them from getting married 3 years ago. She told Renee that Dudley was a bum, then made her listen in another room as she bought him off and he took the money. Alicia thought she was doing Renee a favor, but Renee's says sometimes it's better not to know. She still loves Dudley, she hates him for what he is, and she hates herself for not being able to walk away. Most of all, Renee tells Burke, she hates Alicia because she had to prove it. Renee runs out of the room and Burke tells Tim to pick up Dudley.

Tim goes to arrest Dudley at Rolling Acres. He confronts Dudley with the fact that he could have gotten money from Renee, but not as long as Alicia was alive. Dudley knocks Tim down an embankment and almost runs over him with his car as he escapes. An APB is put out on him. Tim is embarrassed for letting Dudley escape. Burke, however, doesn't think Dudley is the killer - Renee's still a pushover and he could still get money from her.

Phil Ross is at another club, conducting a singing lesson for a really incompetent singer (murdering "It Had to Be You"). He's bored and disgusted. Burke winces. Ross tries to get the girl to tone it down some, but she says her friend told her you have to "sell it". When Ross asks, she tells him her friend is in wholesale plumbing; Ross tells her "so was that last chorus". When she leaves, he apologizes to Burke, who knows him from the past. The club owner lets him teach during the day, in exchange for playing for the club at night. He used to be a good arranger; Burke wonders what went wrong. Ross says "things happen" to people. When he was big, he started getting tired, started drinking and soon had no career. He calls himself a bottle baby. Ross constantly twitches throughout the interview, but tells Burke he kicked booze long ago. He can't figure out who killed Alicia. Burke asks him if he would help the other 2 sisters if they called; he says he doesn't know. Ross worries the two remaining sisters are going nowhere without Alicia. Burke tells Ross that without Renee and Lana, he's going nowhere.

Dominic apologizes to Burke for his actions before and wants to know what information Burke needs. He says he is only the girls' stepfather. Dominic says their real father would never have allowed all this to happened; he would have killed first. Burke asks if he means kill Alicia and Dominic says no, kill Victoria, their mother. The father died and left her with 3 sweet little girls with an ear for music. Victoria, however, had to have 3 little stars and never stopped. Dominic hated the girls' mother for bringing them up the way she did and 'ruining' them. He tells Burke that with Victoria it soon became all about work with the girls; she "took their brains away", didn't let them think for themselves. Victoria made all the decisions for the whole family until she died 4 years ago. Dominic says he was sorry she died but thought maybe now the girls would become people instead of puppets. However Alicia grew up just like her mother and took over. Now she's dead just like Victoria. He wonders what will happen to the other two now. He tells Burke Lana is jealous of a dead girl and Renee "all the time men - like Dudley". Burke asks Dominic who he thinks killed Alicia. He says he doesn't know, but he blames himself for not being stronger years ago.

Still no trace of Dudley or of where the strychnine came from.


Burke is convinced that Renee is the key to finding Dudley. Les calls from Rolling Acres - Dudley's body has just been found in the trunk of his car. He has been clubbed to death.

Lana comes to see Renee at her home. She tells Burke they were to meet there and go to rehearsal. Renee is missing. Lana says she's not sorry, she needs to find an arranger anyway. Burke suggests Ross. Lana tells Burke Ross would never come back to the act because Alicia was the one to drove him into the sanitarium, pushed him into the bottle. Alicia had an affair with Ross and then just dumped him as soon as the act was a hit. Lana says she wouldn't have the nerve to help them now.

Burke wonders why Dudley hung around, rather than get out of town. Maybe he knew who the killer was and tried to blackmail him. Burke tells Tim, however, that if he knew all the answers, he'd never have to leave Beverly Hills. The only clue in Dudley's car is a scrap of paper with "Curtis Rest Home" writen on it.

Burke visits Ross again, who is trying to write a song and still twitchy. Burke tells him he just spoke to Dr. Anders at the sanitarium. He knows Alicia used Ross. Dr. Anders said that Ross had lost a lot of weight and, when he entered the sanitarium, was put on strychnine treatments for his appetite. Dr. Anders hadn't seen Ross for a year. Just recently, Ross went to the sanitarium, complaining of the same symptoms; the doctor found nothing wrong with him. Just today, Dr. Anders found he was missing 2 grains of strychnine. Burke tells Ross about the slip of paper in Dudley's car. As he puts on his jacket to accompany Burke to the station, Ross admits that Dudley was blackmailing him and that he killed him. On the stairs, he hits Burke. They fall back into the room and fight. Burke finally subdues Ross, and asks why he killed Alicia after all these years. Ross tells him he thought it was all over, until Alicia called him last month to apologize. She told him he was the only man for her, and it all started up again. Then Ross found out that Alicia had just called him to come back to arrange music for a TV special to feature her solo. She just needed the arrangements, not him. She had taught her sisters to depend on her and now was going to just throw them away. Ross says he killed her because she was a monster who destroyed people and had to be destroyed.

Burke is back with Cindy watching a war movie. They kiss, but the repeated noise from the bombers on the screen become distracting. Mr. Baxter makes another appearance, but this time Cindy is ready. She brings in a female sheepdog for Mr. Baxter. Just as Cindy is ready to settle down with Burke again, the scene on the screen changes to a voluptuous blonde, sparking Burke's interest. Cindy decides they've seen enough of that movie and turns the projector off. Cindy and Burke kiss, as do Mr. Baxter and his new mate.