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Nellie Wheaten was an adolescent girl who lived on her father's farm. The fugitive musician 88 Keyes arrived the farm to hide from law enforcement, and Nellie became enamored of his handsome appearance and talent.

Enamored of 88 Keyes[]

Nellie realized that 88 was trying to avoid police detection, and she used it to get 88's attention. 88 played on the girl's affections, and used her to secure a getaway car. To his surprise, Nellie stowed away in the car, revealing her presence once they were away from the farm. 88 saw the advantage in having Nellie as an accomplice and/or hostage, and he agreed to let her stay with him.


88 disguised Nellie as a boy to prevent her being recognized. They soon met Red Bluff, an AWOL Navy Seaman and friend of Nellie's family. When 88 and Red robbed a country store at gunpoint, Nellie realized how dangerous the musician was. She wrecked the car by running over a pig in the road, thereby attracting the attention of the police. 88 and Red fled, leaving Nellie. When she was rescued from the wreck, Nellie told Dick Tracy about her involvement with Keyes.

88 Keyes was soon killed while trying to escape, and Nellie was returned to her home. She was scolded by her father, comforted by her mother, and given some sound advice by Dick Tracy. Nellie seemed to have developed a crush on Tracy as he was leaving. She was not charged for aiding Keyes.

Meeting Sparkle Plenty and "Moon Maid"[]


Years later, the amnesiac Sparkle Plenty Tracy would arrive at the Wheatens' farm after crawling into George's truck. She responded to the name "Gertie", and George and Nellie took care of her. The mysterious new "Moon Maid" would later arrive at the farm as well, all of which was connected to an ongoing investigation by Dick Tracy. Sparkle's memory was restored when her family arrived on the farm, and Nellie encountered Tracy once again. When she learned that Tracy was a grandfather, Nellie declared that he was "too old" for her.


  • Nellie's family named has also been spelled "Wheaton". "Wheaten" appeared in the strip first.
  • Nellie's appearance in 2013 is an example of the strip's sliding time-line. Nellie seems to have aged very little since her previous appearance, while other characters (such as Junior) have aged significantly. Furthermore, Sparkle Plenty had been born, aged to adulthood and had a child of her own while Nellie seems to have barely aged at all.
  • Nellie was a rarity among characters who appeared in the strip during the era of her initial appearance. Although she consorted with a dangerous criminal, she survived and only suffered a bad scare as the consequence for her bad judgement.