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Ralph Byrd

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Cause of death  heart attack
Role  Actor
Years active  1935–1952
Children  Carroll Byrd Evangeline
Known for  Dick Tracy
TV shows  Dick Tracy
Name  Ralph Byrd

Ralph Byrd Fictional Characters on the Screen Dick Tracy

Born  22 April 1909 (1909-04-22) Dayton, Ohio, U.S.
Resting place  Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
Died  August 18, 1952, Tarzana, Los Angeles, California, United States
Spouse  Virginia Carroll (m. 1936–1952)
Movies  Dick Tracy, Dick Tracy Returns, Dick Tracy's G‑Men, Dick Tracy's Dilemma, Dick Tracy vs Crime - Inc
Similar People  Morgan Conway, Chester Gould, William Witney, Ray Taylor, Sam Katzman

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 serials, movies and television.


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Early life and career

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Byrd was born in Dayton, Ohio. Before he began acting in films, he sang and danced in theatrical productions.

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He served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War I.

Ralph Byrd Byrd

He married actress and model Virginia Carroll in 1936. The couple remained together until Byrd's death in 1952.

Ralph Byrd Ralph Byrd Bio Facts Family Famous Birthdays

Byrd was a good, all-purpose actor with a gift for delivering dialogue in a natural, ingratiating way. His screen characters could be breezy and affable, or tough and authoritative as the role required. He debuted on film in Chinatown Squad (1935).

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 also starred in three other serials: Blake of Scotland Yard (1937), S.O.S. Coast Guard (1937), and The Vigilante (1947).

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. the Phantom Empire).

RKO Radio Pictures made a feature film, Dick Tracy, in 1945, with Morgan Conway in the title role. 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 Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome were both released in 1947.

Later life and death

Byrd continued to work in action fare in the late 1940s, and when the Dick Tracy property became a TV series in 1950, Byrd was the obvious choice to reprise his most famous role. The shows were produced on low budgets, with Byrd forced to cope with long hours and strenuous action scenes. The accelerated pace of TV production took its toll on the overworked actor's health, and he succumbed to a heart attack in Tarzana, California, on August 18, 1952 and is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale). He was 43 years old. He was survived by his wife and daughter.

Selected filmography

  • Hell-Ship Morgan (1936)
  • Motor Madness (1937)
  • Dark Streets of Cairo (1940)
  • Manila Calling (1942)
  • Broadway Big Shot (1942)
  • Stallion Road (1947)
  • The Vigilante (1947)
  • Canon City (1948)
  • Jungle Goddess (1948)
  • Stage Struck (1948)
  • Radar Secret Service (1950)
  • References

    Ralph Byrd Wikipedia