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Mary Steele

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Mary Steele
MarySteele01

First Appearance:

August 17th, 1934

Known Relatives:

Hank Steele (Husband, Deceased)
Junior Tracy (Son)
2 unnamed Smith children (Wards)

Known Associates:

Steve the Tramp
Larceny Lu
Mortimer
Boris Arson
Toby Patton

Appearance of Death:

November 5th, 1961

Created By:

Chester Gould

Can Be Found:

The Complete Dick Tracy Vol. 2
The Complete Dick Tracy Vol. 3
The Complete Dick Tracy Vol. 4
The Complete Dick Tracy Vol. 5
The Complete Dick Tracy Vol. 20

Mary Steele was the wife of Hank Steele and the mother of Jackie Steele, aka Dick Tracy Junior. She was a thin woman, with short dark hair.

Early Life

As a young woman, Mary wed Hank Steele, a struggling miner in the hills of Colorado. The couple had a son, who they named Jackie. When Jackie was approximately 3 months old, Mary left her husband and went off with a charming drifter named Steve. She took her son with her. Mary had apparently grown weary of the difficult life she had with Hank, and was intrigued by the prospect of adventure and excitement that Steve promised her.

Mary's life with Steve soon became unbearable. She was consumed by guilt over leaving her husband, and for the difficult life she had created for her young son. When Junior was around 2 years old, Mary fell ill in California, and Steve left her, taking Junior with him. Once Steve was out of her life, Mary recovered. She saved some money and opened a small roadside restaurant in Julip, California called "The Coffee Pot".

Unbeknownst to Mary, Hank had discovered a rich mineral strike on his property and become a wealthy man. He had also been blinded in a dynamite explosion. Many years later, through a series of coincidences, Hank and Junior were reunited. Hank was later killed, and Dick Tracy became Junior's guardian and trustee of Junior's inheritance.

Reunion With Her SonEdit

MarySteeleLocket
After being seriously injured in an encounter with police, Steve (now known as "Steve the Tramp") gave his associate Larceny Lu a letter that explained the entire story of him, Mary, Junior, and the Steele fortune. Steve knew where Mary could be found, and Lu went to track her down. Lu and her associate Mortimer discovered Mary at her restaurant and revealed that they knew who she was. They promised to reunite Mary with her son, in exchange for half of his inheritance. Mary agreed. She sold her restaurant and was taken by Lu and Mortimer back to the city.

Mary did not seem to care about gaining Junior's money, and she only expressed a desire to be a part of his life. Lu and Mortimer took advantage of Mary, taking the money she had been paid for "The Coffee Pot" and only giving her small amounts to live on. When Mary saw (from a distance) that Junior had a good life with Tracy, she refused to cooperate further with Lu and Mortimer, and she and the criminals parted ways. Mary made the acquaintance of Tracy, who promised not to reveal to Junior who she was.

Mary remained in the city and observed Junior from afar. She was proud of the fine young man he had become, and used the last of her money to give him the anonymous gift of a small dog which Junior named Oscar (October 18th, 1934). Junior eventually learned who Mary was on his own (February 3rd, 1935), and she became an increased presence in his life, though he continued to live with Tracy.

The Arson GangEdit

MarySteele02031935
Mary entered the employ of Boris Arson, working as his maid. When Mary discovered that Arson was a criminal, she informed Dick Tracy. However, Arson learned of her activities and used her to set a trap for the detective. Mary and Tracy survived, and Mary was given a reward for her aid in capturing the dangerous criminal.

Mary used the reward money to buy a lunch counter restaurant in the city ,and she modeled it after the one she had owned in California, once again calling it "The Coffee Pot" (May 24th, 1935). She hired an attractive young woman named Toby Townley to work as her cashier. Toby was secretly using Mary's profits in a gambling scheme with her boyfriend Mark, which resulted in Toby becoming an unwilling participant in a series of very serious crimes. Once Toby was cleared of the charges against her, Mary forgave the young woman and continued to employ her.

Later Life and DeathEdit

MaryOld
Mary became less of a presence in Junior's life as time went on. Many years later, the elderly Mary was living in the dilapidated home that previously been owned by the deceased crime lord Etah. She was the guardian of 2 young orphaned children who addressed her as “Granny”. She encountered Dick Tracy while he was investigating some evidence that had been concealed on the property, but Tracy did not recognize her. Mary watched from a distance as Junior (who was producing sketches of the property) came and went, but she did not speak to him.

It was revealed that at some point in the past Mary had moved to Los Angeles, where she worked as a housekeeper for the Smith family until Mr. & Mrs. Smith were killed in a boating accident. With no other family to care for them, Mary took custody of the 2 children, and moved them to Dick Tracy’s city, where she rented the run-down house for $20 a month. She used the alias “Mary Smith”.

Mary was accidentally killed by an errant ball hit from an adjoining golf course that came through the window of her home and struck her head (November 5th, 1951). The body was found by Junior and a brief investigation ensued. Tracy discovered the woman’s identity, but it kept it a secret from Junior. Tracy arranged to have Mary interred in the local cemetery, where Junior apparently left flowers on her grave.

The children were placed into a new home, and it was later discovered that the golf ball had been hit by an escaped criminal named Tommy McConny (alias George Pardy), who had eluded police since 1921 and had subsequently become a prominent member of society. Mary’s death inadvertently led to the discovery of a fugitive who had been wanted for murder for 40 years.

Appearances in Other MediaEdit

1990 Feature Film ContinuityEdit

Mary Steele is not a character in the 1990 Dick Tracy feature film. However, she was a character in the follow-up novel Dick Tracy Goes to War written by Max Allan Collins. In the novel, Mary's depiction was very similar to her situation in the comic strip during the 1930s. She was shown to be the owner and operator of a lunch counter restaurant, and she was aware of Tracy and Junior's activities. She was partially responsible for rescuing Junior when he was kidnapped and held captive by agents of the Nazi spy Mrs. Pruneface. Mary was killed while freeing Junior.

NotesEdit

  • Steve the Tramp was referred to as Mary's second husband. However, it is unclear if she was ever officially divorced from Hank Steele, or if her marriage to Steve was legitimate (although photographs of their wedding were shown during the death of Mary Steele storyline). She was only ever officially known by her first married name.
  • Mary used the alias "Mary Smith" on more than one occasion.
  • The death of Mary Steele storyline brings up some continuity errors. For example, Junior was stated as being ten years old in The Blank storyline which was one of Mary's last appearances is the strip. She states in the "death of Mary Steele" storyline she says Junior was eight when she saw him last, though it is conceivable that she simply forgot his correct age.
  • Another possible continuity error is that when Tracy finds one of Junior's baby shoes (after Mary's death) he states that he was given one of them by Mary on the day that he adopted Junior. It was generally assumed that Tracy had adopted Junior before Mary was introduced in the strip, though it is conceivable that Junior was only in Tracy's foster care until then.

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