Madeline has just hopped out of the pool with her fiance, Reed Brent (played by Ray Stricklyn). His wealthy aunt Bebe Brent has just died and left a million dollars to her faithful nurse Hetty Randall, Madeline's mother, but his dad and the other Brent brother are trying to conceal this bequest to keep the cash for themselves.
Madeline hears that her Uncle Max is being a bit nasty on the phone with the family's business lawyer, who is helping to conceal the certified check to her mother. Apparently Max knows about this gift, too.
Sherry has a bunch of great closeups in this episode, and she is in most of the scenes building up to the murder of the lawyer for which she will be blamed. Bebe had the good sense to use Perry Mason for advice on the million dollar gift to her nurse, so naturally Perry will defend Madeline at her murder trial.
On the phone with the nasty lawyer, and she is mad! Reed told her all about what happened in the room when Bebe died, and how the Brent brothers conspired with Grover to hide the check until after her will could be probated. Grover tells her to come over to his house and he'll do the right thing, because his conscience has been killing him. Unfortunately, that's not all that will be killing him!
Boy, this looks suspicious! Madeline runs out the back door of Grover's burning house with the briefcase that has the million dollar check in it, right into the arms of a policeman responding to a neighbor's call about a "noisy argument". Hoo,whee, does she look guilty!
Her story is that Grover never answered the door, it was open, so she went in the darkened house, fell over something and got knocked out. When she awoke, the house was in flames, so she ran around looking for an escape, saw the briefcase on the desk, grabbed it and ran out the back door. Oh yeah, and she saw a man in the shadows before she fell down, yet Grover's body was found in the office, right behind the desk where she grabbed the briefcase. Gee, it sure doesn't look good for Madeline! Since she is technically guilty of felony burglary, and a death resulted from this crime, she is going to be charged with ---
Locked up with no bail, and having a bad hair day in a prison dress ! Madeline consults with Perry, and he explains the murder one charge to her. She convincingly protests her innocence, so Perry will take her case. Oh, and her mom just took delivery of the million dollars, so he knows she can afford his fees!
Now that her hearing has started, at least Sherry's back out of prison garb, and has been to her hairdresser. Too bad she looks so good, because she doesn't have any more lines. Halfway into the show, she just gets to sit there and learn her whole sordid family history from everyone on the witness stand.
It will be revealed that Hetty the nurse isn't really her mother, but that it was (yes that's right) Bebe Brent who secretly gave birth to her after her husband was apparently killed in an avalanche while skiing. Totally broken up, Bebe naturally looked for comfort with another man, and became pregnant. Madeline's birth was hurried along by a car accident, and while still in the hospital, Bebe's "dead" husband was rediscovered, essentially brain dead from the avalanche. Watching her husband ( to whom she had been unfaithful while she thought he was dead ) die a lingering death, Bebe concocted a scheme to conceal her illegitimate daughter by getting the nurse, Hetty to claim the baby as her own daughter. Hetty kept the faith with Bebe all these years, and before Bebe died, she wanted to provide for her daughter with that million dollar gift.
So, now that we know all that, how does Madeline get off of the murder rap? Well, practically everyone who takes the stand has reason to kill poor Grover, but it seems he's got this secretary who was helping him to embezzle from the Brent's corporation, and she would really like to be a movie star. So, when Grover's conscience got to him, and he tried to repay the money to the corporation, she didn't feel like giving her share back 'cause then she wouldn't be able to finance her movie career.
Carla Eden (played by Kathie Browne) looks guilty before she even takes the stand! Perry hooked up a phony screen test for her to get some information, and the producer remembered her from a few months ago as willing to do "anything" to get into the movies.
Kathie, like Sherry, had a role a few years later in Star Trek where she got to play one of Captain Kirk's "alien girlfriends of the week". As Deela from the "speeded up" universe ("Wink of an Eye") where all of the males are sterile, she had one of those famous fadeout to the station break love scenes with James Kirk the outer space Lothario, whom she was trying to use as a sperm donor. When they come back from the commercial, he's on his bunk pulling his boots on in the symbolic "we just had sex" gesture while she combs her hair.
On the stand, Uncle Max admits that he's the guy Bebe had an affair with when she thought Phillip was dead, so he's really Madeline's father. Then, Perry gets Carla to spill her guts about killing Grover. She confesses to arguing with her boss, and whopping him on the head with something from his desk, and then hiding there while Max came in, but he got scared off by Madeline coming in. Then she heard Madeline get knocked out by tripping on the table that Max bumped over, so she decided to burn the house down with Madeline and Grover in it, solving all of her problems about Grover wanting to give back the money. Of course, now she gets to spend that money on her legal defense --
I wonder if Perry is available?
Here's a shot of the happy "family" all back together. Now Madeline and Reed are going to go ahead with their wedding, since Reed fessed up to the whole deathbed conspiracy scene from the start. Of course, Hetty isn't really her mom, and Uncle Max really IS her father, and her fiance Reed is.... her cousin?!?!?! eewwwww!!
No, not really, 'cause Bebe was merely married to Phillip Brent who she was unfaithful to with Max here, so Madeline and Reed aren't related since Reed really IS a Brent, and they can have a normal family, (as long as Reed's parents ARE who he THINKS they are!)