Chief Brandon had a close relationship with Tracy, serving as his boss and mentor, and also as a father figure to a certain extent.
As a young man, Brandon was friends with Jean Penfield's father. Both men attended Yale University, where they were successful football players. Later, Brandon was best man at Mr. Penfield's wedding.
Brandon also befriended "Pop" Gainer when Gainer was coaching football at Harvard University.
In 1919 Brandon joined the city police force (see Notes below). His superior in 1921 was Stanley Norris, who was serving as Chief at that time. Brandon would later succeed Norris as Chief of Police, and Norris was eventually elected Mayor.
Meeting Dick Tracy
Brandon apparently first met Tracy when Tracy had witnessed a crime. Brandon requested that Tracy come to the station to see if he could identify the offender at the morning lineup of arrestees. Tracy recognized one of the female prisoners as a former boxer turned criminal called Pinkie the Stabber, who was disguised in women's clothes. Brandon was impressed with the young man's powers of observation.
Shortly thereafter, the father of Tracy's fiancee Tess Trueheart was shot and killed during a home invasion by Big Boy's men, and Tess was abducted. Brandon recommended and approved Tracy's admission to the police force's Plainclothes Squad to help find Tess and apprehend Big Boy. (See "Notes" section below)
Brandon was highly supportive of Tracy and Pat Patton, even though he occasionally disagreed with their instincts or methods.
Brandon himself came under public scrutiny during the case of Boris Arson. While Arson was being held in jail, he asked Brandon for supplies to cook his own meals. Brandon, not seeing the harm, allowed it. This provided Arson with the items he needed to escape from jail, which became an embarrassment to Brandon, the police department, and the then-Mayor. Brandon was about to be sanctioned for his involvement in the escape, but Tracy took responsibility in Brandon's place.
Later, when Tracy faked his own death as part of a scheme to infiltrate the Johnny Ramm gang, Brandon (who was unaware of the ruse) blamed himself, believing that he had driven Tracy too hard. Brandon was prepared to resign his position as police chief, but was dissuaded by the then-Mayor.
Brandon's tenure as Chief of Police ended in 1948 when Diet Smith's son Brilliant was killed by the racketeer Big Frost. Brandon had allowed Frost entry to Brilliant's exhibition due to Frost presenting forged credentials, and he blamed himself for the boy's death. Brandon quit the force out of shame and was succeeded by Pat Patton.
When Tracy was temporarily blinded at the beginning of 1970, Brandon sent Tracy a gift of a cherrywood cane. At that time, Brandon was said to have retired to "bear country", where he would hunt every day.
Brandon later opened his own landscaping shop in the city called Lawn Order (a pun on the phrase "Law and Order").
Big Frost's Revenge Attempt
In 2011, Brandon was the target of a murder attempt by Big Frost, who sneaked into the former Chief's store after hours and shot him 3 times in the back. Brandon returned fire. The shots attracted attention, and Brandon was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Chief Patton refused to let Tracy work on the investigation, as he believed that Tracy (and himself) were too emotionally connected to the case, which could impair their job performance.
Brandon survived, and Big Frost was later found dead from the shots Brandon had fired.
Appearances In Other Media
"Dick Tracy in B Flat"
"The Chief" was a character in the humorous radio play Dick Tracy in B Flat, produced for Armed Forces Radio in February of 1945. He was played by Jerry Colonna. The character was never explicitly identified by the name Brandon.
1940s Feature Films
Chief Brandon was character in several of the Dick Tracy feature films produced during the 1940s. He was played by actor Joseph Crehan in Dick Tracy (1945), Dick Tracy vs Cueball (1946), and Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947).
Chief Brandon appeared in only one of the original stories produced for Dell Comics' Dick Tracy Monthly. During the case of Mumps (issue #19), Chief Brandon is shown to be Dick Tracy and Pat Patton's commanding officer. By the time of the next issue, the hierarchy had been modified to reflect Brandon's resignation and Patton's promotion.
1990 Movie Continuity
In the 1990 Dick Tracy feature film, Chief Brandon was portrayed by actor Charles Durning.
Chief Brandon believed in Tracy, even when Tracy had been framed for murder. Brandon arranged for Tracy's release from jail so they could both take part in the New Year's Eve raid on the Club Ritz.
Dick Tracy: Forever
Chief Brandon appeared as a supporting character in the comic book miniseries Dick Tracy: Forever published by IDW. He was depicted as Tracy's trusting, non-corrupt commanding officer.
Brandon had not appeared in the previous IDW miniseries Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive.
- In the earliest days of the strip, it appears as though Chief Brandon hires Dick Tracy directly into the Plainclothes division from being a civilian. This would have been a highly unorthodox and unlikely scenario, even in the 1930s. In the 80th Anniversary flashback storyline, It was established that Tracy had been a member of the police force working as a uniform officer. Although they had not officially met, Tracy had attracted Brandon's attention through several instances of bravery and keen observation. This led to Tracy's promotion to Plainclothes following the murder of Emil Trueheart.
- Chief Brandon's first name has not been depicted consistently throughout the strip's history. His initials have been given as "G.R.", and he has been addressed/referred to as "George" on more than one occasion. He has also been called "John", and he identified himself as "Jim Brandon" to his old friend Pop Gainer.
- During the case of Nat the Fur King, it was revealed that Chief Brandon had a wife and that her cousin was Fred Marken (a legitimate fur dealer).
- When Tracy needed a blood transfusion after being shot during the Cut Famon case, Brandon identified himself as being 58 years old.
- At the time of his retirement in 1948, Brandon had reportedly been a police officer for 30 years. However, in a storyline that took place in 1940, Brandon celebrated his 30th anniversary as a police officer.
- A profile of Chief Brandon's face was displayed on the cover of IDW's The Complete Dick Tracy Vol. 3.
- Actor Charles Durning (who played Brandon in the 1990 feature film) somewhat resembles how Pat Patton has been depicted in the strip in later years.