Thursday, July 13, 2017



The weekend of May 31 1991

Among the people staying at the Hotel Claudine to celebrate the 68th birthday of Prince Rainier II was unscrupulous financier and shipping magnate Earl Harper.  (Although never revealed during moment in prime time, his full name was J.W. Earl Harper, but he never used those first two names.)

Harper held a sizable IOU over the Hotel Claudine and threatened to take it away if hotelier Annie Floret, an old friend of author Jessica Fletcher, didn't pay off by Monday.

Annie was far from the only suspect when Earl Harper eventually ended up dead, stabbed through the chest by a pair of scissors he had taken from Annie's son Richie.  There were also some suspicious employees on the staff, as well as Harper's wife, his mistress, a jewel thief, and a rival businessman.  But working with Inspector Jean Morel, Mrs. Fletcher was able to solve the puzzle.

We really don't know more about Earl Harper other than that he was married to Cynthia Harper who was carrying on her own affair with her husband's bodyguard.  Oh yeah.  Forgot about him.  Add him to the list.....

But here's a theory of relateeveety, totally conjectural.

Earl Harper didn't build his own fortune from the ground up on his own.  Like a certain orange president, he inherited a fortune first.


Earl Harper's father was a judge from North Carolina by the name of J.W. Earl Harper.  (Although never spelled out in the minister's eulogy, the "J.W." stood for James Wilson.  He had been named after a signer of the Declaration of Independence from North Carolina who became a Supreme Court Justice.  The Judge passed down his name to his son.)  

Born and raised in Pitchfield Flats, North Carolina, (not far from Mayberry), at one time Judge Harper was destined for great things.  But a slew of allegations against him, of financial and political malfeasance, as well as claims of moral turpitude, put a great strain on his heart.  It eventually led to the Judge dying unexpectedly in the early Autumn of 1971*.  (There may have been rumors that he had taken his own life.)

Even though Justice J.W. Earl Harper, once rumored for the Supreme Court, lived below the Mason-Dixon line, his son arranged for the body to be shipped North so that he might find eternal rest in the premiere Tranquil Valley location just north of New York City.  Also of note buried there are Lola Ricardo, known to her fans as "The Peruvian Bombshell", and Morty Brustein, a campus radical who advocated peaceful protests - which didn't help him when he faced off against the police during his last demonstration.

[I get the feeling that Earl Harper didn't give a damn about his father's wishes but instead preferred to have the grave located closer to his business offices in New York City.  Whether he had his mother's grave moved to Tranquil Valley as well is unknown, but I don't see why not.]

J.W. Earl Harper and his son Earl died twenty years apart and are now buried together at Tranquil Valley (which experienced a shift to new management soon after the burial of the Judge......

Just a fluke, a case of serendipiteevee, that I should see these two episodes, which had characters named Earl Harper, within a 24-hour period.  

David Birney played Earl Harper the younger.  Judge J.W. Earl Harper was already dead by the time McCloud got involved in a smuggling case.


  • 'The Andy Griffith Show'
  • 'Mayberry RFD'
  • 'The Twilight Zone'
  • "Revolution: A History Of Us'

* Because several construction workers were seen shirtless as they toiled, I believe it had to be Indian Summer.

No comments: