Duke was a small-time crook and purse-snatcher. He had a thin moustache and typically wore round eyeglasses.
Duke was first seen when he stole Tess Trueheart’s purse at a carnival that she and Junior Tracy were attending. This was the same carnival where the recently released (and reformed) Steve the Tramp had been seeking work.
Steve was temporarily accused of the theft, but was able to clear his name. Steve, Jerry Wotts, Junior and Dick Tracy chased Duke through the carnival, but Duke disguised himself by applying cotton candy to his face to simulate a beard and bushy eyebrows.
Duke then met up with his associate, an attractive woman called Sugar. They devised a robbery scheme where Duke would hold up a store, and during the course of his escape “knock down” Sugar, who would be wearing the outfit of a woman giving out free samples of chewing gum. The “knock down” would actually be a hand-off of the stolen loot, so if Duke was caught no money would be found on him (Duke didn’t wear a mask, though, so his victim could still have easily identified him).
Duke and Sugar pulled this scheme on a street corner where Steve had recently purchased a fruit stand. This gained them the continuing attention of Tracy, who found it odd that the “chewing gum girl” should be involved in more than stick-up. He and Junior tracked Sugar to her apartment where Duke was also hiding out.
Duke pulled a gun on Tracy and tied his arms and legs to an upside-down table in Sugar’s kitchen. He then poured some household sulfur into a bowl and lit it on fire, intending that the fumes in the enclosed space would eventually kill Tracy. He and Sugar then took Junior to aid in their next crime.
The Armored Car JobEdit
Duke’s plan involved intercepting an armored car, which he knew would be on the street that afternoon. He threw Junior from his own moving car in front of the armored car. When the armored car drivers stopped to check on Junior, Duke pulled his gun on them and he and Sugar grabbed as much money as they could. They then sped away, leaving Junior behind.
While this went on, Tracy was trying to escape. He discovered that by jerking his arms and legs, he was able to move the table to which he was tied. Making his way to the window, he grabbed the curtains with his teeth and bent the rod down. He was able to bang the rod against the window until the glass broke, releasing the fumes and attracting attention.
As Duke and Sugar were making their getaway, their car crossed the path of a produce truck that Steve was riding in. Swerving wildly, the two cars did not collide, but both crashed. Sugar was killed in the crash and the driver of the produce truck was knocked out. Steve and Duke were conscious and able to walk. Duke knocked out Steve with the butt of his gun and put Steve in his car, attempting to frame him for the robbery and accident.
Hiding with the MoleEditWhile Tracy was rescued and Steve cleared his name, Duke made his way to the underground hideout of the Mole. Duke and Mole knew each other from some past criminal dealings. Mole agreed to hide Duke in exchange for everything Duke had. Duke agreed, planning to rob the Mole and escape later. Duke was unaware that the Mole kept the metal ladder that led out of his lair electrified at night, so when Duke tried to climb it he was shocked by 220 volts. Mole then finished the job by strangling Duke to death for his treachery (November 21st, 1941). Mole dumped Duke’s body down a manhole, where it was later discovered.
- Duke has sometimes been referred to as "Duke the Dip". In this context, "Dip" refers to his skill as a pickpocket.
- There is no apparent connection between Duke and Duke or Duke Malloy.
- Chester Gould was not consistent in drawing Duke's pistol - in some panels it was a automatic and in others it was a revolver.