Dick Tracy Wiki
Ralph Byrd


April 22nd, 1909


Dayton, OH


August 18th, 1952 (age 43)

Place of Death:

Tarzana, CA

Known Relatives:

Virginia Carroll, Wife (deceased)
Carroll Byrd Evangeline, Daughter

Ralph Byrd (1909-1952) was an American actor. He had the distinction of being the first actor to portray Dick Tracy on screen, and in more projects for film and television than any other performer.

Byrd first played Tracy in the 1937 Republic Serial Dick Tracy. He subsequently played the role in the serials Dick Tracy Returns (1938), Dick Tracy's G-Men (1939) and Dick Tracy vs. Crime Inc (1941).

Byrd left the role of Dick Tracy during the mid-forties (during which time the part was played on film by Morgan Conway). Byrd returned in 1947 for Dick Tracy's Dilemma and Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome, playing opposite esteemed actor Boris Karloff as the titular villain.

In 1950, Byrd once again took up the role in the relative successful live-action TV series Dick Tracy. He played Tracy in 33 episodes before his untimely death from a heart attack in 1952 at the age of 43. Due to the television production schedule, new episodes of the series continued to air after Byrd passed away.


  • In 1948, Ralph Byrd co-starred in the film Jungle Goddess alongside George Reeves. Reeves would soon go on to play Superman on television. The film was later featured in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
  • In 1950, Byrd co-starred in the film Radar Secret Service (another film that was later used on Mystery Science Theater 3000). Early in the film, Byrd's character (a law-enforcement officer called Static) makes the following comment regarding RADAR: "To think that Dick Tracy used it years before it was invented..."
  • Byrd's name partially inspired the name of the character Morgan Byrd, an actor who was cast in the role of "Boss" Tracy in the film inspired by the Midnite Mirror series.