Influence was a casino owner and murderer who had developed special contact lenses that allowed him to easily hypnotize people. His most notable features were his round eyes, prominent cheekbones, big nostrils, and wavy dark hair.
Encounter with Dick Tracy[edit | edit source]
Influence was first seen shooting an unnamed victim, then pushing him and his car off a pier because he had failed to pay a debt. He then stopped into the restaurant owned by Vitamin Flintheart and used his hypnotism on him to obtain meager things. Influence later returned and had Vitamin take a ride with him in his car. Vitamin recognized Influence as the owner of a casino where Vitamin had lost $20,000 and never paid.
Since Vitamin was now penniless, Influence used his hypnotism to make Vitamin become his servant. He made Vitamin burn down his restaurant and end his friendships with the radio host Christmas Early and her ward Themesong. Influence also made him smoke a piece of paper instead of a cigarette, drink lukewarm tea (which Vitamin detested), keep on his coat even though it was hot, sleep on the floor with his head on a brick instead of a pillow and swallow seed peas instead of vitamins.
Influence's plan was to keep Vitamin under his power until Vitamin's debt to him was paid off (and possibly after that). Influence planned to have Vitamin settle the debt by enticing a wealthy fellow actor named Florence Lane into funding a non-existent theatrical production. Florence, under Influence's command, paid him in $5,000 increments and Influence subjected her to degrading deeds like he had with Vitamin. Influence made Florence serve as his cook and Vitamin his butler.
Dick Tracy began investigating Vitamin's disappearance. Tracy eventually discovered that Influence had murdered the optician who had made Influence's lenses of colored cellophane.
Vitamin had no clean shirts, so Influence went to the dry-cleaners to pick up his clothes. Pat Patton (who had been monitoring the cleaners) ambushed Influence but was also put under his control and beaten with brass knuckles. Influence left Pat in an abandoned refrigerator in the city dump. Pat was nearly killed while trapped in the refrigerator, but he managed to reach Tracy on his 2-Way Wrist Radio and was rescued. Using a bloodied piece of newspaper found on Pat's jacket with Florence's address on it, the police were able to track down Influence. Influence knocked Tracy unconscious and escaped with Vitamin and his henchman by wearing Tracy's fedora and trench coat.
Influence attempted to dispose of Tracy's clothes by tossing them over a bridge, but they landed on a patch of ice and were found by a young girl named Misty Waters. She returned the items to Tracy, who was being treated for his head trauma in the city hospital. Tracy followed Misty back to the ski resort where she had found his clothes, believing that he would find Influence there. Tracy's instinct proved correct after Influence's henchman Slim won a new car in a raffle at the resort. The fugitives were about to escape when Tracy confronted Influence. Influence tried to use his hypnosis on Tracy again, not knowing that Tracy was prepared with a cane housing a metal chain and his own set of cellophane lenses. Tracy struck Influence with the chain, breaking the lenses in his eyes and Influence was taken into custody.
Influence Reforms[edit | edit source]
Some time later, after Tracy's fiftieth birthday (1981), Tracy received a note signed from an "old friend" saying that they were going to kill Diet Smith on his whistle-stop Fusion Now tour, which Tracy volunteered to travel with as the Police Liaison. Suspecting that the letter had come from a former adversary, Tracy took some side trips along with Diet to see some of Tracy's reformed enemies including Mousey, Coffyhead, Pear-Shape, the Mole, and Influence (who had had a religious conversion in prison and was paroled early).
Influence was now living in Texas, aiding the police and FBI by using hypnosis to help eyewitnesses remember latent details they might otherwise have forgotten. Influence's hair was now white. He was on such good terms with Tracy that he later attended Junior Tracy's wedding to Sparkle Plenty, which was almost blown up by Angeltop Jones.
Influence resurfaced in August 2014 to aid the Major Crimes Unit and Oliver Warbucks with the interrogation of a suspect tied to the disappearances of Dick Tracy and Annie Warbucks. His hair was black, suggesting that he had dyed it. Chief Patton was opposed to involving Influence in the investigation, claiming that they had "too much history". However, Warbucks used his personal fortune to have the hypnotist flown to the City.
Appearances in Other Media[edit | edit source]
1950s Live Action TV Series[edit | edit source]
Influence appeared in a two-part episode of the 1950s Dick Tracy television series entitled "Dick Tracy and the Foreign Agents". He was portrayed by Frank Gerstle.
Influence was depicted as a hypnotist who used the exceptional memory of Memory Long to obtain secret formulas for a foreign government. He was shown to have a white streak in his hair, but did not have the unique eyes and nose that characterized the comic strip version.
Movie Continuity[edit | edit source]
Influence appeared in the 1990 film Dick Tracy. He was portrayed by Henry Silva. He worked closely with Pruneface. He, like his associates, was killed in a firefight with Tracy and the police outside the Club Ritz.
His only line in the movie was in the conference with Big Boy- "Hey, when do we kill Dick Tracy?". Influence's name was never said out loud in the movie.
Tie-In Video Game[edit | edit source]
- Nintendo Entertainment System- Influence is suspected of a kidnapping. He is described as a "crooked hypnotist".
IDW Comics[edit | edit source]
Dick Tracy: Forever[edit | edit source]
Influence was a villain in the fourth issue of the comic book miniseries Dick Tracy: Forever published by IDW. He was the mastermind behind a futuristic scheme to raid the consciousnesses of a cadre of billionaires that had been uploaded to a computer. he was defeated by Dick Tracy.
Influence also appeared in the epilogue.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- The packaging for the action figure of Influence produced by Playmates Toys featured a comic in which Dick Tracy referred to Influence as "Dr. Otto" then adding that "Influence" was an alias..