Ralph Byrd

Ralph Byrd

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Ralph Byrd

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Ralph Byrd (22 April 1909 – 18 August 1952) was an American actor. He was most famous for playing the comic strip character Dick Tracy on screen, in serial, movies and television.

Early life and career

Byrd was a good, all-purpose actor with a gift for delivering dialogue in a natural, ingratiating way. Once established in Republic Pictures' Dick Tracy serials (beginning in 1937), he was usually cast in action features (as a truck driver, lumberjack, cowboy, etc.), despite not having the usual brawny frame that went with these roles. He had a strong, resolute jaw, however, which gave him a heroic presence.

Byrd married actress and model Virginia Carroll in 1936.

Dick Tracy

Republic cast Byrd as Chester Gould's comic-strip detective Dick Tracy in the 1937 serial of the same name. The film was so successful that it spawned three sequels (unheard of in serials): Dick Tracy Returns, Dick Tracy's G-Men (featuring a young Jennifer Jones, under her real name of Phylis Isley), and Dick Tracy vs. Crime Inc. (reissued in 1952 as Dick Tracy vs. Phantom Empire).

RKO Radio Pictures made a feature film, Dick Tracy, in 1945, but not with Ralph Byrd (see the Wikipedia entry for Morgan Conway). After two films, exhibitors complained. To them, Ralph Byrd was Dick Tracy, and only Ralph Byrd would do. RKO accepted this and hired Byrd to finish the series. Dick Tracy's Dilemma and...
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