The woman named Ana (maiden name unknown), who would become "Mrs. Pruneface", was an uncommonly large woman with sunken eyes, a nearly non-existent nose and pointed teeth. She had thin light-colored hair that she typically wore under a kerchief.
In her youth, Ana had married the man called Pruneface. They toured together as part of traveling variety show. She was skilled at the use of a whip, as well as makeup and hairdressing. She also claimed to have worked at the Hotel Cotillion in Paris as a cook. While this may have been a lie, she was a highly-skilled cook. Her facial disfigurement was the result of a can of gasoline being thrown in her face while she and her husband were escaping Europe.
During the Xylon incident, Mrs. Pruneface flew in to Dick Tracy's city and was picked up by Pruneface at the airport with flowers in hand. They went back to the warehouse where Pruneface kept Professor Roloc Bard prisoner, but Pruneface was shocked when he escaped. Tracy had infiltrated the warehouse, unaware that Mrs. Pruneface was watching him. As Tracy held Pruneface and his henchman at gunpoint, Mrs. Pruneface knocked him unconscious, tied him to a chair, and smashed his two-way wrist radio. Mrs. Pruneface then drove Pruneface and herself back to the airport while leaving Tracy behind with a "baby" Xylon bomb. Tracy managed to escape.
After her husband was apprehended and (apparently) died, Mrs. Pruneface swore revenge on Dick Tracy. She followed Tracy on his way home from the police station one rainy night, following Tracy's involvement with the case of 88 Keyes. She wrapped her whip around Tracy's neck, taking him by surprise, then knocked him unconscious with the whip's handle. She carried Tracy to her home in a secluded part of town, where she lived with her devoted servant Emil and her pet rat Toodles.
Eventually, Mrs. Pruneface revealed her identity to Tracy and she explained her plan for vengeance. She and Emil chained Tracy to the floor of the building, and placed two large blocks of ice on either side of him. Then then set a plank with a pointed steel spike driven through it on top of the ice, with the spike pointed at Tracy's heart. Finally, they rested a small but heavy icebox on top of the plank. Their plan was to leave an oven on with the door open so that as the room heated and the ice melted, the weight of the icebox would drive the spike into Tracy's heart, killing him slowly and painfully. Mrs. Pruneface and Emil then left to establish their alibi elsewhere.
Luckily for Tracy, the floor of the building was slightly angled, and by bumping his body against the floor he was able to shift the ice blocks enough to move the spike so that it just missed his torso. Unbeknownst to Mrs. Pruneface, she had been seen carrying Tracy's body into the building, and the witness had alerted the police. Pat Patton and some officers arrived in time to free Tracy from the trap before the icebox could crush him. Tracy then began his hunt for Mrs. Pruneface in earnest.
Mrs. Pruneface and Emil had been drinking at a nearby tavern to celebrate their supposed victory. They saw a newspaper headline announcing Tracy's rescue, and the pair realized that they must go into hiding. They found a new residence, and Mrs. Pruneface used her knowledge of theatrical makeup to create a disguise. Going by the name "Marie", she got hired as a chef in the restaurant at the upscale Hotel St. Fude.
While Mrs. Pruneface was at work during the day, Emil stayed hidden in their new apartment. Bored, he decided to practice using her whip, even though she had forbidden him to do so. Emil accidentally got the whip wrapped around a tree branch outside his window, and the handle slipped from his grasp. The whip fell to the sidewalk outside, where it was found by a passing policeman.
When Mrs. Pruneface returned home, she discovered that her whip was missing and she became enraged. She beat Emil to death with a lamp. She returned to her job at the hotel, where her excellent cooking had attracted the attention of the current Mayor. He offered her a job as the cook at his mansion. Mrs. Pruneface realized that the authorities would be closing in on her, and she took the job, believing that she could escape suspicion at the Mayor's residence.
The Mayor's Mansion
The Mayor had two adult daughters who were popular socialites. One night, upon returning home after an evening's carousing with friends, the daughters and their friends asked "Marie" to make them some food. Mrs. Pruneface declined at first but when the party insisted, she agreed. Two of the daughters young male friends hoisted "Marie" onto their shoulders and, singing her praises, prepared to carry her to the kitchen. Their route took them past the mansion's swimming pool, where the young men tripped and one of them (Chuck) fell into the pool with Mrs. Pruneface. The rest of the group ran off in embarrassment. Mrs. Pruneface's disguise was washed off in the pool, and when she and Chuck came up for air, he saw her real features. Chuck was shocked by her gruesome appearance and recognized her from the newspaper stories about her.
Acting quickly, Mrs. Pruneface grabbed Chuck by the neck and held him underwater, half-strangling and half-drowning him. She then replaced her disguise and prepared to flee. The commotion had woken the Mayor and his invalid wife, and he went downstairs to investigate. By this time his daughters had returned, and they all discovered Chuck's body.
Dick Tracy and the police arrived on the scene shortly after. They had been investigating the Mayor's new cook after finding Emil's body. The Mayor's daughters had gone to the kitchen to find "Marie", and Mrs. Pruneface confronted them, wielding a pot of boiling hot soup which she threatened to throw on them. Thinking quickly, the Mayor's daughters pushed a pan of flour into a nearby fan, throwing up a makeshift smoke screen that allowed them to escape. Before Mrs. Pruneface could pursue, she was shot through the temple (September 26th, 1943).
It was soon discovered that the shooter was the Mayor's wife. She had previously been bedridden, but when she realized that her family was in danger she found the strength to walk and get a pistol. Tracy identified Mrs. Pruneface's body.
Mrs. Pruneface's Legacy
Years later, it was learned that Pruneface had been cryogenically frozen, and he returned to challenge Dick Tracy again on several occasions, thus meaning that Mrs. Pruneface pursued her self-destructive vendetta for nothing. It was also revealed that Pruneface had had children, who had children of their own. Mrs. Pruneface's granddaughter and great-granddaughter crossed paths with Dick Tracy as well.
Appearances In Other Media
Mrs. Pruneface does not appear as a character in the 1990 "Dick Tracy" feature film, or in the comic-book tie-in. She is a major character in the follow-up novel Dick Tracy Goes to War, written by Max Allan Collins. In the book, Mrs. Pruneface (who operates under the alias "Mrs. P") is a Nazi operative working in America who organizes a subversive group, recruiting various criminals including B-B Eyes and Shaky. She operates with the aid of the Mole, to whom she is alternately kind and cruel.
Mrs. Pruneface works at the Stage-Door Canteen, formerly the headquarters of Big Boy, where she has also recruited the musicians 88 Keyes and Black Pearl. Mrs. Pruneface conducted various plots involving counterfeiting, kidnapping and sabotage. She planned to kidnap the professor Roloc Bard and transport him to Germany where he would continue his work on the Xylon bomb, and at the same time plant a bomb at an aircraft manufacturing plant operated by Diet Smith.
Mrs. Pruneface's plot was discovered and Dick Tracy led a raid on her headquarters. Mrs. Pruneface subdued Tracy and explained to him who she was, stating that her gruesome appearance was the result of being gassed and burned while attempting to flee Europe and join her husband, whose death she blamed on Tracy.
Mrs. Pruneface was holding Junior Tracy hostage. When she revealed this to Tracy, she was surprised to find that Junior had been freed by Mary Steele. After a struggle, Mrs. Pruneface was shot and killed by Mary, who died shortly thereafter.
Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive
Mrs. Pruneface was one of several villains shown being taken into custody in issue #2 of the comic book miniseries Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive published by IDW. Pruneface was also shown to be part of the gang, but his fate is not specified.
- Mrs. Pruneface's first name "Ana" was not revealed until the 1980s, during the storyline wherein it was revealed that Pruneface had been cryogenically frozen.
- Mrs. Pruneface's ice block death-trap is considered one of the more ingenious traps that Tracy has ever faced, and it was later reproduced in Vitamin Flintheart's wax museum in the Land O' Plenty amusement park. Tracy was placed in the replica by his enemy Putty Puss, but managed to escape again.
- Mrs. Pruneface never spoke during the Xylon storyline, rather she acted as a silent enforcer for her husband, as well as getaway driver.
- A continuity error exists with regard to Mrs. Pruneface's family. In Prunella's first appearance, she was identified as Pruneface's grand-daughter, being the daughter of Pruneface's son. In a later story, she was identified as Pruneface's daughter, with Prune Hilda being Pruneface's grand-daughter. None of these stories make reference to Mrs. Pruneface and she was not specifically identified as the mother of Pruneface's child(ren), though she is presumed to be.