October 4th, 1931
Chester Tracy (Father; Deceased)
Fellow Squad Members:
Chief Brandon (Former Chief)
With his distinctive hawk-like nose, narrow eyes and pointed chin, Dick Tracy is a symbol of law and order as well as being one of the world's most famous detectives.
Dick Tracy was born in 1909. As a boy, Tracy had worked in his father's dog kennels, and as an adult he worked as a Navy diver in New York harbor (See "Notes" below for Tracy's early career). A typical bachelor in the early 1930s, Tracy had a beautiful girlfriend and was adapting to life during the depression
Tragedy at the Truehearts'EditOne night after Tess Trueheart's father Emil closed his deli for the evening, Tracy came over for dinner. Tracy was about to announce his plans to marry Tess when mobsters broke into the house. They shot Emil Trueheart and stole the $1000 he had in his upstairs safe. The mobsters knocked out Tracy and abducted Tess, leaving Tracy stunned and Mrs. Trueheart in a state of shock. Over the body of his girlfriend's father, he swore that he would find Tess and bring Emil's murderers to justice.
The mobsters turned out to be enforcers for Big Boy, a powerful crime boss. Chief Brandon recruited Tracy into the Plainclothes unit and Tracy proceeded to infiltrate Big Boy's operation, rescue Tess and brought the mobster to justice.
Early AdventuresEditSoon afterwards, Tracy adopted a young street urchin who later chose to call himself Dick Tracy Jr. Junior and Tracy's partner Pat Patton helped Tracy solve many crimes and encountered dozens of grotesque characters such as Pruneface, Flattop, B-B Eyes, Shaky, the Mole, The Brow, Mrs. Pruneface, the Blank, Influence, Mumbles, and many others. It is not uncommon for Tracy to be targeted by relatives of his enemies seeking revenge.
Early in his career, Tracy would often adopt some form of disguise and go undercover, but the approach was later abandoned in favor of more traditional police work and scientific investigation.
In 1949, Chief Brandon retired and Pat Patton was promoted to Chief of Police at Tracy's recommendation. Tracy got a new partner in the freckle-faced, humorous Sam Catchem. Tracy and Tess were married around this time.
Tracy endured several hardships during his extensive career, including hundreds of near death situations, injuries, and even a temporary divorce from Tess in the 1990's. City officials suspected at one time that Tracy was on the take because of his fancy car and big house, but these suspicions were unfounded. Tracy was able to prove that the car was a test model that he was testing for industrialist Diet Smith (which had special police features), and the money for his house had come from his thrifty saving during his bachelor years.
International TravelsEditTracy has been on many adventures and in many different places around the world and beyond. He was stranded for weeks in an Island in the South Atlantic with a Scotland Yard police detective during an adventure that also took him to (pre-Communist) Cuba. Tracy has been to the Moon along with Diet Smith. Tracy has also solved cases in Hawaii, California, and Washington. For a while, he was drafted by President Reagan to participate in the government exchange program where he was sent to Russia as an observer of their law enforcement with the KGB.
One of Tracy's earliest adventures was when Stooge Viller and Steve the Tramp followed Junior Tracy and his biological father Hank Steele to Halifax in Canada. Tracy has also been to the Florida Everglades in 1990 when B.O. Plenty's relative Holden Plenty was having problems with mobsters who were trying to buy off his land.
Tracy is the most decorated police officer in America and also known for having killed the most criminals in the line of duty. He is a celebrity, and is probably the best-known law-enforcement officer in the country, having the same level of name recognition as Elliot Ness or J.Edgar Hoover. As such, the happenings in personal life are often the subject of national news stories. He has inspired at least one feature film (in which Tracy acted as a consultant as well as portraying himself in some scenes), and also as a popular song by the singer Themesong.
Tracy has had an antagonistic relationship with reporter Wendy Wichel, who often accuses Tracy of police brutality and using excessive force. Tracy respects Wichel's Fist Amendment rights, but disagrees with her assessment of his tactics.
In 1994, Tracy was awarded the U.S. Medal of Freedom for his work with the FBI in preventing terrorist attacks orchestrated by the criminal Pig E. Bank. However, Tracy was not present to accept his award.
Tracy's squad has always been on the cutting edge of technology thanks to Tracy's friendship with billionaire industrialist Diet Smith, creator of the 2-Way Wrist Radio, 2-Way Wrist TV, 2-Way Wrist Computer, Wrist Wizard and Wrist Geenee. For a while, various pieces of Moon Technology were incorporated in Tracy's arsenal, but use of these devices was eventually discontinued.In 1978, Big Boy launched a million-dollar Open Contract on Tracy's life after Big Boy learned he only had six months to live. A few attempts were made on his life, but the collateral damage resulted in the deaths of two of the would-be killers Louie Small and Little Littel, and life of Moon Maid Tracy (Junior's wife). After a final attempt was made on Tracy's life, Tracy and Sam went to Big Boy's mansion with a warrant for his arrest. Big Boy's anger and lust for revenge caused a fatal heart attack before the police could get to him.
The Tracy AgencyEdit
During the period of time following the non-fatal shooting of Chief Pat Patton, Tracy quit the force at the behest of the interim Chief Climer who looked down upon Tracy as a "relic" and brutal image of Law enforcement's outdated beliefs. Tracy investigated Patton's shooting himself after he opened up his own Private Detective Agency along with Johnny Adonis. Patton's shooter was revealed and Tracy returned to the force.
Tracy has occasionally been offered promotions, but he much prefers his position as Chief of Detectives and head of the Major Crimes Unit.
- In the early days of the strip, Tracy seemingly goes directly from being a civilian to working in the police department's plainclothes division. This would be an extremely unorthodox situation. A flashback story from the time of the strip's 80th Anniversary depicts Tracy as a uniformed police officer who had recently distinguished himself and gained Brandon's attention around the same time as the Emil Trueheart murder, thus prompting his promotion to plainclothes. This is logical, though the storyline was criticized by some fans who accused the modern creative team of dismissing Chester Gould's original story as "getting it wrong". Since the anniversary story was being narrated by Sam Catchem, who was not present when the events took place, it's possible that Sam (as an unreliable narrator) was mistaken about specific details.
- Readers should note that in the original story, when Brandon offered Tracy a position as a detective, his exact words were, "Tracy - how'd you like to join the Plainclothes Squad?" This could be taken two ways. First, that he was offering to hire Tracy, then a civilian, for a job on the Police Force with an immediate appointment to the Detective Bureau. Or second, since he did not say, "How'd you like to join the Police Department," that Tracy was already an officer, and that Brandon was offering him a promotion to Detective.
- When asked about his family, Tracy referred to his parents in the past tense, indicating that they are deceased.
- When asked, Dick Tracy identified his favorite comic strip as "Fearless Fosdick".
- Sam Catchem mentioned to his wife that while Tracy typically reads the newspaper, the only book he'd seen Tracy read was by Max Allan Collins (presumably a mystery or crime novel).
- Dick Tracy was not a fan of the film "Sharky's Machine", saying he found it too violent.
- Tracy once said his favorite cop movie was "Blade Runner".
- Among his favorite music, Tracy has listed Warren Zevon, Gordon Lightfoot, and The Talking Heads.
- Tracy expressed disdain for the science of oceanography, dismissing it as a "boondoggle".
- Tracy is an avowed dog lover, but he is not opposed to animal testing for medical purposes, referring to it as a "necessary evil".
- Dick Tracy has a rare blood type, a trait he has in common with Diet Smith.
- In addition to signature yellow overcoat and fedora, Tracy typically wears a black suit with a red, white, and black striped necktie. The lack of variety in his wardrobe has been remarked upon occasionally.
- Tracy's fedora has often been colored green in various comic book publications and some Sunday strips.
- The Police Department also has a collection of at least 20 of Tracy's fedora hats that have been shot, crushed, or otherwise damaged in the line of duty. The earliest one is from 1931, and the collection includes hats shot by Stooge Viller, B-B Eyes, Flattop, Pruneface, Chameleon, and Blackjack.
- Tracy's skill as a marksman is renowned. During the 1960s and 70s (when creator Chester Gould indulged in less-than-subtle social commentary regarding the justifiable use of deadly force by police officers), it was often repeated that a criminal should "never shoot first at Dick Tracy". It was established that Tracy would not fire on a suspect unless that suspect shot at police first, and also that Tracy would always shoot to kill.
- In the TV series Perry Mason in the episode "The Case of the Sulky Girl" private detective Paul Drake's desk has a framed drawing of Dick Tracy.
- Tracy's handgun varied within the years-from a non-regulation .38 automatic pistol to a regulation .38 Colt detective special.
Throughout his career Dick Tracy has suffered several serious injuries, many of which could (or would) have resulted in death or other long-term consequences in real life. Tracy has proven to be extremely lucky (and durable) in this regard, and is often shown experiencing a faster-than-plausible recovery.
Among the Tracy's most serious injuries are:
- Hit on head with gun butt and struck on jaw with brass knuckles during Tess Trueheart kidnapping
- Hit on head with suitcase full of bricks (resulting in a concussion) then kidnapped and burned on right foot by Broadway Bates
- Shot in the hip by Dan "The Squealer" Mucelli
- Shot 4 times by FBI agents while posing as a member of Cut Famon's gang
- Caught in an explosion on Stud Bronzen's boat which knocked Tracy unconscious and he nearly drowned; then nearly killed by compressed air by The Blank in a decompression chamber
- Suffered temporary blindness and partial lung paralysis after inhaling poison gas during the Karpse investigation
- Shot in the arm/hand by Wolley and his gang
- Abducted by Jerome Trohs' gang and had his right hand crushed by Mamma
- Kidnapped by the Black Pearl Erad gang and received a cut on left cheek, later suffered severe burns when trapped inside a tank during the same case
- Shot in hip by Selbert Depool
- Broken right leg when slipping on ice after leaving Bea Thorndike's house
- Nearly suffocated by burning sulfur by Duke and Sugar
- In The Mole's tunnel, Tracy was nearly strangled by the Mole, then after the tunnel caved in, Tracy was nearly drowned by water flooding
- Kidnapped and impaled with a spike by Mrs. Pruneface
- Grazed in right side with a gunshot by Flattop Jones
- Stabbed in right shoulder by lightning rod thrown as a spear by The Brow.
- Dragged on car bumper and set on fire by Measles
- Poisoned by Breathless Mahoney.
- Kidnapped and starved by Kitty (Mrs. B.B. Eyes) and Itchy Oliver
- Grazed in the chest by Wormy Marrons' car horn guns, then dragged a significant distance down an icy road behind Marrons' car.
- Shot in the arm/shoulder by Empty Williams
- Nearly drowned after being shot with a high-powered rifle by Tonsils
- Hit on the head and knocked unconscious by Odds Zonn. Subsequently suffered starvation and frostbite while in the culvert death-trap.
- Hit on the head with a brick and knocked unconscious by Flyface
- Suffered malnutrition/starvation after being stranded on Granite Island by Miss Egghead and The Dropper
- Knocked unconscious by a 22-pound coping tile dropped on his head by an underling of Miss Intro; Tracy then nearly froze to death in a ascending balloon
- Suffered head trauma when knocked unconscious by Climer.
- Frozen "dead" by Dr. Freezdrei but revived by Sam Catchem.
- Struck over the head with a garbage can lid and knocked unconscious by Dr. E.N. Amuhni.
- Suffered injury to his larynx from being garroted by Bardoll.
- Hit over the head and back with a chair by Tabby Angus.
Confirmed KillsEditDick Tracy has a reputation for having killed more people in the line of duty than any other law enforcement officer in the United States of America. However, many of his notable adversaries have died by other means, often at the hand of their criminal compatriots, at the hand of other law enforcement officers, at the hands of law-abiding citizens acting in self-defense or in the defense of others, in accidents, and/or while attempting to escape capture.
Below is partial list of Dick Tracy's confirmed kills.
An asterisk (*) indicates an instance in which the criminal was killed during a shootout with multiple police officers and/or others including Tracy, meaning that Tracy may or may not have been the person who fired the kill shot.
- Unnamed farmer* (Steve the Tramp/Hank Steele storyline during car hijacking)
- Della (Della is the first "confirmed kill" shown in the strip where there is no uncertainty that Dick Tracy is the person who killed them.)
- Boss Jim Herrod
- Tony the Bomber
- Zora Arson*
- Cutie Diamond*
- "Muscle" Famon*
- "Maw" Famon*
- Stud Bronzen
- Louie "Jake" Enalio* (Jojo Nidle storyline)
- Jojo Nidle
- Meg "Nibs" Urhe* (Wolley's gang)
- Jim Zess* (Wolley's gang)
- Junky Doolb*
- Jacques (Brother of B-B Eyes)
- Baggo (Tiger Lilly's gang)
- 88 Keyes
- Ed (Flattop's gang, killed by a gun fired by Flattop when Tracy grabbed Flattop's gun hand, aimed it at Ed, and forced Flattop to pull the trigger)
- Unnamed member of Flattop's gang (killed by Tracy and Flattop the same way Ed was)
- Charlie (the only member of Flattop's gang killed by a gun directly fired by Tracy)
- Barny "Shorty" (Measles' gang)
- Itchy Oliver
- Eddie (Gargles' gang)
- Joe* (Gargles' gang)
- Lugi* (Coffeyhead's assistant)
- Joe* (Mrs. Volts storyline)
- Sketch Paree
- Dr. Plain*
- Edward "Eddie" Moppet* (Mr. Crime storyline)
- Hank Timer, a killer in the employ of Mr. Crime*
- Unnamed professional killer driving a stolen auto transport during an attempted hit on Tracy (Mr. Crime storyline)
- George Alphanone aka George Alpha aka Mr. Crime I*
- Sticks Hepbeat
- Sid Jonah* (Rughead's gang)
- Hank "Happy" Larson (Rughead's gang)
- Eddie and 2 other unnamed drug dealers* (Elsa Crystal storyline)
- Duo, Trey, & Quad Hardly*
- Small Mouth Bass
- Yolly Times, an assassin in the employ of Mr. Bribery
- George Chin Chillar*
- Mr. Intro & his associates
- Unnamed accomplice of Mr. Litter
- Taurus, a member of the Zodiac gang
- Unnamed assassin sent by Diamonds to kill Groovy Grove
- Chameleon I
- Duzzin Matta (Apparatus Hit-Man)
- Marvin Barley*
- 2 Unnamed members of an armored car robbery gang*
- 3rd member of the armored car robbery gang in a helicopter
- Johnny Snow, aka the Iceman
- Fastlane (thrown off an overpass during a struggle with Tracy)
- Pilfer Patty*
- Bardoll (thrown from the top of a tall building)
Additionally, Scardol, Danny Supeena, the Brow, T. V. Wiggles, Empty Williams, Louis Small, Dr. Kryos Freezedrei, and possibly Shoulders all died as a result of actions that Tracy took, but in those cases it was clear that Tracy did not necessarily intend to employ deadly force. Mr. Kroywen died during a struggle with Tracy, but an autopsy revealed that this was due to a heart condition and Tracy was not responsible.
Appearances In Other MediaEdit
- 1937 - Dick Tracy, 15 part serial starring Ralph Byrd as Dick Tracy
- 1938 - Dick Tracy Returns, 15 part serial starring Ralph Byrd as Dick Tracy
- 1939 - Dick Tracy's G-Men, 15 part serial starring Ralph Byrd as Dick Tracy
- 1941 - Dick Tracy vs. Crime Inc., 15 part serial starring Ralph Byrd as Dick Tracy
- 1945 - Dick Tracy, starring Morgan Conway as Dick Tracy
- 1946 - Dick Tracy vs. Cueball, starring Morgan Conway as Dick Tracy
- 1947 - Dick Tracy's Dilemma, starring Ralph Byrd as Dick Tracy
- 1947 - Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome, starring Ralph Byrd as Dick Tracy
- 1990 - Dick Tracy starring Warren Beatty as Dick Tracy
- 1950 - Dick Tracy, starring Ralph Byrd as Dick Tracy
- 1961 - The Dick Tracy Show, animated series featuring Everett Sloane as the voice of Dick Tracy
- 1964 - The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo - animated series featuring Everett Sloane as the voice of Dick Tracy
- 1967 - Dick Tracy (pilot for unproduced live-action TV series) starring Ray MacDonnell as Dick Tracy
- 1971 - Archie's TV Funnies, animated series featuring John Erwin as the voice of Dick Tracy
On Radio & Other AudioEdit
- 1934 - Dick Tracy, starring Bob Burlen, Barry Thompson, Ned Wever & Matt Crowley as Dick Tracy
- 1945 - Dick Tracy in B-Flat, starring Bing Crosby as Dick Tracy
- 1947 - Dick Tracy in the Case of the Midnight Marauder, two-record set featuring Jim Ameche as Dick Tracy
- 1990 - Dick Tracy, audiobook of the Max Allan Collins novelization, read by James Keane
- 1990 - Dick Tracy: Big Boy Turns Up the Heat, movie tie-in "read-along" featuring Charles Howerton as Dick Tracy
- 1990 - Dick Tracy: Everything Comes Up Blank, movie tie-in "read-along" featuring Charles Howerton as Dick Tracy
- In 1966 Tracy appeared in Popular Mechanics/Readers Digest magazines in a series of advertisements for Autolite, an automobile parts manufacturer. Among the criminals captured by Tracy were Chuck Hole, Piston Puss, Strip Gear, Short Circuit, Rod Bender, & Miss Fire.
- 2 follow-up novels to the 1990 Dick Tracy feature film novelization were published- Dick Tracy Goes to War and Dick Tracy Meets His Match, both written by Max Allan Collins.