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Jean Penfield
JeanPenfield01

First Appearance:

January 20th, 1934

Known Relatives:

Mr. Penfield (Father)

Known Associates:

Jiles (Butler)
Jessie (Maid)
Matt Page (Newspaper Editor)

Appearance of Death:

April 11th, 1934

Created By:

Chester Gould

Can Be Found:

The Complete Dick Tracy Vol. 2

Jean Penfield was the daughter of an old friend of Chief Brandon. An aspiring author, she was first seen gathering material for a book about the underworld. She was an attractive young woman with short dark hair, expressive eyes, and a wide smile.

The Jimmy White CaseEdit

Jean Penfield arrived at the city Police Department shortly after the arrest of Jimmy White. She asked to interview him for a book she was preparing. White recognized her from an earlier encounter in which Penfield had interviewed the notorious criminal Big Boy. Shortly thereafter, Big Boy had been raided by police, leading Jimmy to believe that Penfield was an informant. He refused to speak to her.

Later, Jean made arrangements with Jimmy White's attorney Spaldoni to pay Jimmy's bond, in exchange for an in-depth interview. Jimmy agreed and the interview was conducted, but he later broke into Jean's home and stole the manuscript back. Jean suspected who was responsible, and worked with Dick Tracy to set a trap for Jimmy.

Jean deduced (correctly) that when Jimmy and Spaldoni read the manuscript, they would attempt to obtain the remaining unpublished pages that were still in Jean's possession. Jimmy gained access to Jean's home by holding her butler Jiles at gunpoint, and grabbed what he thought were the remaining pages. Jean had been waiting for him and shot him in the arm before he fled. Tracy gathered Jimmy's fingerprints from the crime scene and prepared to arrest him.

Spaldoni (who Jean had not connected to Jimmy's crimes) presented her with a gift of Jimmy's automobile as a means of repaying her for the bond money she had put up. Tracy was suspicious and told Jean not to get in the car. Tracy's hunch was proven correct as a bomb had been planted in the automobile went off, nearly killing both Tracy and Jean (February 11th, 1934).

Tracy was concerned for Jean's safety, but she was convinced that she could take care of herself. Shortly after the car bomb incident, Jean happened to overhear Spaldoni at a public telephone booth arranging a meeting with his fugitive client Big Boy. She relayed the information for Tracy, and Big Boy was arrested after several months at large. Spaldoni and Jimmy White had managed to avoid the trap and they decided to leave the country.

Before he could depart, Jimmy White happened to see Jean in her car on the street. Unable to resist the chance for revenge, Jimmy got in Jean's car and forced her at gunpoint to drive into the country. Jean lost control of the car and it crashed into an oil tank. The subsequent explosion engulfed the vehicle, and Jimmy and Jean were presumed killed.

The PhantomEdit

Shortly after Jean's apparent demise, a series of newspaper articles began appearing the News-Globe that exposed underworld goings-on. The byline for these articles identified the writer only as "The Phantom". The paper's editor Mark Page refused to reveal the Phantom's identity, even after being threatened by mobsters. 

As more articles by the "Phantom" appeared, the underworld grew more brazen in their attempts to silence the editor. One night, Tracy and Pat Patton arrived at the newspaper offices investigating a threat. They disrupted an attempt to blow up the building, as well as an assault againt the editor, with the help of a mysterious cleaning woman. The "Scrub Woman" was revealed the "Phantom", who was Jean Penfield in disguise.

Penfield revealed that she had been thrown clear of her car shortly before it had struck the oil tank, and she had gone into hiding with the help of Mr. Page in order to uncover the criminal element. Tracy was pleased and relieved to see Jean alive, prompting the newspaper editor to wonder if the pair were engaged. Tracy laughed at the idea, but Jean seemed to take it seriously.

Spaldoni Seeks RevengeEdit

JeanPenfieldTess
Jean had a story published in the paper announcing her engagement to Tracy. Tess Trueheart, Tracy's actual fiancée, believed the story was real, despite Tracy's objections. The two women met in the street and quarreled violently.

At this point, Spaldoni had returned to the city, believing that he could exploit the tension between Tracy, Penfield and Trueheart as a means of getting revenge for the death of Jimmy White. Spaldoni had his associate Mac sneaked into Tess' home and acquired a drinking glass from which her fingerprints could be taken. Spaldoni then forged notes to each of the women, believing it would prompt a confrontation.

Spaldoni was correct. He hid in Jean Penfield's apartment and was present when an angry Tess arrived. The two women had a loud argument, during which Spaldoni shot Jean with a pistol on which he had planted Tess' fingerprints (April 11th, 1934). Tracy and the police had been just outside the apartment when the shot was fired, and they arrived to see Tess standing over Jean's murdered body. Spaldoni escaped out the back of the building.

AftermathEdit

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Tess was arrested on suspicion of murder, but Tracy believed her when she said she was innocent. Tracy was eventually able to prove that Tess had been framed, and Spaldoni (who was shot while attempting to evade capture) confessed to the murder shortly before he died.

NotesEdit

  • Jean Penfield had an Afican-American maid named Jessie, who was depicted as a broad racial stereotype, which was commonplace at the time. Her butler Jiles' dialogue was represented with a British accent.
  • In the Harvey Comics reprinting of the Jean Penfield/Jimmy White/Spaldoni storyline (March, April, and May 1948), the brief subplot with the car bomb was omitted. Whether this edit was to conserve space or to remove violent content in unclear. However, it is notable that a later scene in which Tracy slaps Jean across the face was not removed.

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