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Mel O. Dee (aka "Melody") was a criminal associate of Gruesome. He had wavy, light-brown hair, heavy eyelids and a thick neck.

At some point in the past, Mel O. Dee and Gruesome had committed a bank robbery together (possibly a series of them) for which Mel O. Dee had avoided capture while Gruesome had gone to jail. In the subsequent years, Mel O. Dee managed to establish himself as a legitimate stage actor.

Gruesome Returns[]

When Gruesome escaped from jail, he had his face altered by the underworld surgeon Dr. Einstein. He then sought out Mel O. Dee at the Patterson Playhouse, where Mel had been cast as "Mortimer" in a production of the play "Arsenic and Old Lace". Gruesome himself was cast in the role of "Johnathan" (using the stage name "Christopher Cushing"), and Gruesome assured Mel that he intended to collect the money that was owed to him.

Over the course of rehearsals, Mel O. Dee and Gruesome were observed by the theater's janitor, Otis. Otis approached Mel and revealed his suspicions that Mel and Gruesome were involved in some illegal dealings. Mel did not deny the accusations, and Otis threatened to go to the police unless he received a payoff. Mel was able to stall Otis until the play's opening night.

Dramatic Performance[]


Just before the first performance of "Arsenic and Old Lace", Gruesome murdered Otis, who was attempting to extort him. Gruesome hid the body in a piece of furniture on stage. During intermission, Mel (who was unaware of the murder) gave Gruesome the money that he owed him. The second act was disrupted when Agate Aggie (playing the role of "Martha") discovered Otis' body in the set's window seat. Mel broke character and announced Gruesome's crime in front of the audience.

Dick Tracy and Sam Catchem then appeared on stage to arrest Gruesome, at which point Gruesome created a distraction by setting off an explosive that he had planted. Much of the stage was damaged, but the cast and audience escaped without serious injury.

Mel O. Dee's fate is unknown. It is likely that he was arrested in conjunction with his earlier crimes, and possibly for aiding a known fugitive.

Appearances in Other Media[]


Melody was a supporting character in the 1947 feature film Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome. He was played by Tony Barrett.

In the film, Melody was a former criminal associate of Gruesome's, who had since taken a job playing piano in a restaurant/bar called The Hangman's Knot. When Gruesome escaped from prison, he met up with Melody and embarked on a new criminal scheme that involved robbing banks with the aid of a paralyzing gas.

Melody was driving a getaway car following an armored car robbery (in which he had killed a guard) when he was shot by police and subsequently crashed the vehicle. He was later said to have died in the hospital.


  • Throughout the strip's storyline with Gruesome, Mel O. Dee is often addressed and referred to by his full name, often with "Mr." in front of it.
  • The title cards for the film Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome credit two writers with the screenplay (Robertson White and Eric Taylor) and two additional writers with the story (William H. Graffis and Robert E. Kent) as well as Chester Gould. This is why multiple people are credited with "creating" the character of Melody, as with Gruesome.
  • Like the other RKO features (and earlier serials), the film Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome has entered the public domain, meaning that characters from it can be used without securing permission from the original rights holders (see also Cueball and Gordon Tracy). It also available to watch online for free from several outlets.
  • Mel02
    Melody's death in the film is the strip's major divergence from the film's backstory, which is otherwise treated as the official backstory for Gruesome's interaction with Dick Tracy.
  • In an early scene in Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome, Melody describes a crime that he has been waiting to commit, saying that "...Big Boy ain't okayed me yet". This would seem to be an oblique reference to Big Boy, the frequently recurring villain from the strip's early days.
  • Tony Barrett, who played Melody in Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome, had previously played Sam (an associate of The Claw) in Dick Tracy's Dilemma.