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Emil Trueheart was one of the first characters shown on the first weekday installment of the comic strip along with Dick Tracy, Tess, and Mrs. Trueheart.

Emil was older man with a bald head. He wore eyeglasses.

Life and Death[]

Emil was the owner of a delicatessen. He and his family lived in an apartment above the business. He was a very kind man who approved of Tracy and his relationship with Tess.

One night, Dick proposed to Tess and she accepted. At the same time, Emil and his wife were counting out the money that they had saved, pleased that they were officially out of debt (2,000 dollars in 1931 money). Unbeknownst to all, the house was being observed by mobsters who later burst in and threatened Emil. They wanted the code to the safe, but Emil defied them. He was shot by one of the thugs, a man called Crutch. Mrs. Trueheart fainted from the shock. With his dying breath, Emil revealed the combination. The men took the money and kidnapped Tess.


Tracy tried to stop them from leaving and taking Tess, but one of the robbers hit him over the head with the butt of his gun. Officer Mulligan and the other policemen were going over the crime scene and Tracy was panicking about where Tess was. The murder of Emil Trueheart was the catalyst for Tracy joining the force as he made a solemn vow " Over the body of your father Tess, I swear I will find you and avenge this thing, I swear it".

It was eventually revealed that the robbery had been arranged by the mobster known as Big Boy, who Tracy later arrested. After the case was solved, Tess finally learned of her father's fate while visiting her recuperating mother in the hospital and seeing Emil's life insurance documents.

Emil Trueheart's Legacy[]

Decades later in 1978, Big Boy lay dying and put out an Open Contract on Tracy which which resulted in the deaths two minor criminals and Junior's beloved wife Moon Maid. Junior swore to his adoptive parents that he would find her killer, which concerned Tracy but reminded Tess of the speech Tracy had made when Big Boy's men killed Emil. This in turn gave Tracy the clue he needed to uncover the person involved.

Appearances in Other Media[]

1990 Feature Film Continuity[]

Emil Trueheart is not a character in the 1990 Dick Tracy feature film. The back-story of the Trueheart family is established as being along the same lines as depicted in the strip, with Emil having been killed during a robbery and Tracy bringing the killer to justice.


Emil Trueheart was a character in the comic book prequel to the film written by John Moore with art by Kyle Baker. His depiction was similar to his appearance in the comic strip, though he was slightly more heavy-set and did not wear eyeglasses.

In the comic, Emil (known as "Pops" Trueheart) was working as a truck driver, unknowingly delivering liquor to Lips Manlis' club. His truck was robbed by a gang that included Johnny Mintworth and Frost. Trueheart was shot and killed by Frost.

Mad Cave Studios Comics[]

Dick Tracy[]

Emil Trueheart was a character in Mad Cave Studios' Dick Tracy comic book series from 2024. In it, he was a city alderman with some connection to organized crime. He arranged a late-night meeting with a local journalist at a diner, where he was killed by Flattop along with all of the other patrons and staff.


Emil Trueheart in Dick Tracy #1, as drawn by Geraldo Borges

Emil's daughter Tess, also a journalist, inserted herself into Dick Tracy's investigation of the massacre.


  • Unlike Batman's parents or Spider-Man's Uncle Ben, the death of Emil Trueheart is not frequently referred to as Tracy's motivation for pursuing a career in law enforcement.
  • When Brandon asked Tracy why Trueheart had kept such a large amount of money in a bedroom safe, Tracy explained that Trueheart had previously lost money in a small bank failure.