The owner and founder of Diet Smith Industries, Diet Smith was a health-conscious engineering genius who contributed great technological advancements to law enforcement. He had light hair and a thick moustache.
Diet Smith became a close personal friend of Dick Tracy and many of his comrades.
Early Appearances[edit | edit source]
When Diet first encountered Tracy, he was a suspect in the electrocution death of his business partner who was killed for their top secret creation, the 2-Way Wrist Radio, which was found in the snow by Smith's employee, the fugitive B.O. Plenty. Smith was arrested for not cooperating with the investigation, but was allowed to conduct his company's business from his jail cell. Smith gave up on his diet and went into a frenzy of eating after being upset over the death of his partner. Smith was cleared of all charges and became angry when he discovered that Tracy had been experimenting with his invention, saying that it was still in the research stage.
It was revealed that disgruntled worker Irma, who stole the invention of the wrist radio from her blind son Brilliant, was scheming against Smith out of revenge and greed. She stole the plans and all available wrist radios after turning on another Smith invention (the Atom Light) in Diet and Tracy's face. After her husband (who was sent by Irma) was killed following an attempt to steal a shipment of lithium in order to build a thousand wrist radios, she angrily went into Smith's home and shot him twice in the bathtub and then shot herself in the head. B.O Plenty was working as a yard man on Smith's estate, and arrived just in time to save Diet Smith.
Brilliant, enraged over the deaths of his parents, attempted to shoot Diet Smith as he lay in his hospital bed. However, Tracy had arranged for the blind Brilliant to be led to an empty bed, saving Smith's life. Believing that Brilliant had vented his rage, Tracy and Smith no longer considered the young man a threat. Diet then invited Brilliant to work with him at Diet Smith Industries and offered the boy friendship. Diet recovered from his injuries.
When mobster Big Frost heard about Smith Industries' Teleguard Camera, he posed as a police chief to gain access to Brilliant, fooling Chief Brandon in the process. Frost killed Brilliant, destroying the plans for the camera along with him. Smith was saddened when Brilliant was laid to rest, and he revealed to Tracy that he and Irma had been married once and that Brilliant was actually his son.
The Moon Period[edit | edit source]
In 1962, Diet Smith Industries perfected the magnetic Space Coupe, a vehicle capable of traveling great distances (including into outer space) in very little time, powered by magnetism. During a sweep around the moon, the young woman who came to be known as Moon Maid stowed away on Diet Smith's magnetic vessel. When Smith phoned Tracy to inform him of the discovery, Tracy fainted. Moon Maid jammed radio, radar and television signals and was shown to have unearthly powers, Smith had no choice but to arrange to have her sent back to the moon. Before returning her, Smith and Tracy went to Washington D.C. to demonstrate her powers. Unbeknownst to Diet and Tracy, Junior and Moon Maid had fallen in love and both of them left on the Space Coupe to go to the moon. Tracy became angry at Diet for allowing that to happen. Tracy grew despondent over Junior's departure to the point where he was contemplating quitting the police force, just as Smith introduced the 2-Way Wrist TV to Tracy.
Tracy and Smith both went to the moon and met Moon Maid's father, the Moon Governor. After an initial period of mistrust, Smith cemented good relations with the Moon and began trade negotiations to acquire Moon technology and resources.
Junior and Moon Maid were married, and when Moon Maid gave birth to Honeymoon Tracy, Diet was named as the child's Godfather.
In 1978, Moon Maid was killed in a car bomb meant for Tracy. This caused the Moon Governor to give Diet the message that all ties would forever be severed between the moon and Earth. Diet told this to Tracy personally at Moon Maid's funeral. The Space Coupe and Air Cars were placed into storage and their use was discontinued. Smith publicly stated that this was due to negative health effects of magnetism.
Post-Moon Period[edit | edit source]
After Tess had revealed to Tracy that she was pregnant, Smith paid the Tracys a visit at Vitamin Flintheart's estate. It was Diet's mention of recent computer-based crimes that began Tracy's involvement with the Computer Killer case.
Diet expressed his happiness for his friend's impending new baby, but secretly was hurting inside from the loss of his own family. A genetics expert named Dr. Zy Ghote claimed to have cloned Mumbles and was shown on TV at the same time Tracy and Smith were on the show. This led Smith to deal with Ghote to have himself cloned so he could fill his yearning for an heir after losing his son Brilliant. Tracy knew that this wasn't a clone of Mumbles and that Ghote was a fraud, but even after this was revealed to Smith, he still agreed to fund Ghote's research, but his and Mumbles' arrest made this impossible and put a strain on his and Tracy's friendship.
The schism was so significant that Diet considered moving his company's base of operations to the west coast. His plan was delayed when he and Tracy were abducted by Diet's former Chief of Security, Bernard Breakdown. Tracy and Diet were soon freed, and the incident made Diet realize that he had been foolish. Diet and Tracy reconciled.
Fusion Now![edit | edit source]
When Diet Smith made a breakthrough with fusion energy, he was given coaching by his agent P.R. Blitz in order to get this idea of fusion to dispel the people's doubts and confusion of Fusion with Fission and arranged a nationwide whistle-stop tour on the world's first fusion-powered train (which ran on a thimbleful of water). At the same time, Tracy had gotten excessive mail in response to his fiftieth birthday and received a letter from an "old friend" saying that they were going to kill Diet Smtih and humiliate Tracy.
Diet took precautions by making Tracy his chief of security on the tour and reluctantly wore soft-body armor. This in turn allowed Tracy to investigate a few of his old foes around the country. Diet and Tracy went to Los Angeles, Houston, and several other cities. None of the former villains they visited seemed to bear a significant grudge against Tracy.
In Washington DC, after Smith submitted the layman's plans of fusion to President Ronald Reagan, a disguised Brow Jr. planted an explosive on Smith. Tracy was able to disarm the bomb and capture Brow Jr, but was forced to free the younger man due to lack of evidence. Diet Smith was later present at the wedding of Junior Tracy and Sparkle Plenty, which was disrupted by a bomb scare.
When Tracy quit the force to open a Private Detective Agency to find who shot Chief Patton, Diet supplied Tracy once again with a 2-Way Wrist TV, saying that he would call on Tracy for his services when needed. Tracy returned to the police force shortly thereafter.
When Diet Smith's first Fusion Plant was about to open, Tracy had learned about a new espionage ring consisting of female relatives of 3 of his old enemies. Tracy was trying to identify the third member, who, according to Blowtop's description, was a female version of Pruneface. Diet revealed that Prunella Laboche was the creator of the Prune computer. Tracy tried to convince Diet to delay the opening of the plant but Diet dismissed this and proceeded with his plans. The three criminals were able to smuggle a bomb into the plant, and gave Smith a deadline of two hours to transfer a large sum of money to a numbered swiss account. Smith stalled, allowing Tracy and the Major Crimes Squad enough time to stop the plot.
Later, Diet's friend B.O. Plenty opened a Dick Tracy-themed park on land he had purchased on the basis of advice from his brother Goodin, which turned out to be a toxic waste dump. After a disaster hit the park on opening night, Diet offered to help rebuild the Land O' Plenty.
Political Ambitions[edit | edit source]
Smith had introduced the 2-Way Wrist Computer to Tracy and Sam in 1986 and it proved useful when the police were dealing with Putty Puss. Putty Puss later impersonated Diet, who was a candidate for President of the United States at the time. Putty Puss took Diet's place at a press conference. Disguised as Diet, Putty Puss proceeded to make several inflammatory and controversial statements at the behest of Smith's political rival Franklin Strong. Putty Puss' deception was revealed and he was arrested soon after, but Diet was not elected President.
Later Adventures[edit | edit source]
In 1991, it was revealed that Diet was in a need of a heart transplant. His rare blood type made the prospect of finding a donor in time unlikely. Desperate, he turned to an unscrupulous attorney who operated a black market human organ ring. These organs were harvested from the city's homeless population, though Smith was not aware of this. Diet Smith nearly received the heart of Dick Tracy, who has been working undercover to investigate the disappearances, and had been abducted by the black marketeers. After learning the truth of the situation, Smith helped free Tracy, though his health suffered. Diet was confined to his bed, and a legitimate donor was found soon afterward.
The New Moon Maid[edit | edit source]
In late 2012, Diet took Tracy and Honeymoon on trip to the Moon, seeking clues as to the identity of the mysterious new "Moon Maid" who had been seen in the city. They were all surprised to find Moon Valley deserted and in disarray. Smith was later approached by Dr. S. Tim Sail (an associate of Dr. Zy Ghote), who informed Smith of his perfected "clone" of Moon Maid. Smith was dubious, and contacted his colleague Oliver Warbucks to verify Sail's claim. Warbucks contradicted Sail's statement.
Smith later ordered all remaining Moon and Space Coupe-related technology destroyed, except for one Space Coupe that he used to aid Dick Tracy during a showdown at the Wheaten family farm. The Space Coupe was hijacked by Dr. Sail and his associates, and Diet sent it flying out into space with a remote control. Smith then revealed that the "new Moon Maid" was actually Glenna Ermine, who had been physically and mentally altered to believe that she was the original. Smith offered to pay for Glenna to get reconstructive surgery to restore her original face, but could not restore her memories or personality. Glenna refused, but agreed to Smith's offer to work with Stellaluna and Retik to re-acclimate herself to society.
Smith was later kidnapped by agents of Mr. Bigg, who Smith recognized as the presumed-deceased Mr. Bribery. Bigg was seeking Space Coupe technology, but Smith assured him that all traces of it had bee destroyed. When Bigg's headquarters came under siege by the MCU and the FBI, Bigg's bodyguard T-Bolt hid Smith a closet (with Honeymoon and Annie Warbucks, who had also infiltrated the building), so they would be safe. Smith was freed, but Bribery escaped in an Air Car. Smith was unsure how Bribery could have acquired the device.
Appearances in Other Media[edit | edit source]
1950s Live Action TV Series[edit | edit source]
Diet Smith appeared in six episodes of the 1950s live action Dick Tracy TV series starring Ralph Byrd. He was played by Thurston Hall.
Diet was involved in Dick Tracy's encounters with the Mole and the Brain.
Archie's TV Funnies[edit | edit source]
Diet Smith appeared in a Dick Tracy segment in an episode of the 1971 animated series Archie's TV Funnies that also featured Purdy Fallar. Diet was shown to be the owner/operator of a Moon mining company.
Movie Continuity[edit | edit source]
Diet Smith is a character in the 2 original follow-up novels written by Max Allan Collins.
In the novel Dick Tracy Goes to War, Diet Smith operated a factory that produced aircraft for the war effort. The factory also had a Research & Development laboratory, which became the target of a plot by the fifth-columnist Mrs. Pruneface and her cohorts. The criminal Shaky posed as a general and, under the pretense of making a surprise inspection, attempted to kidnap the scientist Professor Roloc Bard. Smith was on-site at the time, and was fooled by Shaky's disguise, as were the rest of his security personnel. The plot was foiled by Dick Tracy, and Smith's plant was saved from being destroyed with bomb that had been secretly planted.
In Dick Tracy Meets His Match, Diet had moved into the newly expanding field of television. He owned a local television network and hired Tess to be his head of programming. He agreed to pay for Dick and Tess's wedding on the condition that it be broadcast as part of a new TV series.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Diet's name comes his frequent attempts at dieting and healthier living. As a result, he is often depicted at widely varying weights and sizes (sometimes heavyset, other times slim).
- In his first storyline, reference was made to Diet Smith being currently married. However, this unseen wife did not play a role in the story and has rarely been referred to since. She was briefly mentioned around the time of Junior's marriage to Moon Maid.
- Diet Smith has been depicted as having some skill as both a marksman and a bare-knuckle fighter.
- In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Diet had a butler named Jarvis. This is the same name as the butler for Marvel Comics' team of costumed heroes The Avengers.
- In a 1997 storyline, Diet Smith's assets were shown to be valued at nearly 88 billion dollars.
- In the fictional world of The Midnite Mirror, Diet Smith was the criminal Boss Tracy's chauffeur.
Inventions[edit | edit source]
- Atom Light (1946)
- 2-Way Wrist Radio (1946)
- Ring Camera
- Battery powered TV camera with Self-Light
- 2-Way Wrist TV (1964)
- Space Coupe
- 2-Way Wrist Computer (1986)
- Fusion Power
- Wrist Geenee
- Mind Reading Device (2007)
- Wrist Wizard