Ted Tellum was a radio and television broadcaster in the region of Dick Tracy's city. His on-air persona was affable and folksy (he referred to himself as "The Friendly Feller" or "Fella"), though he was quite egotistical and manipulative in his personal dealings.
Ted Tellum had strawberry-blond hair, and his face typically held a wide, insincere grin. His radio broadcasts were produced in a studio at his home, which was called "The Little House Over the Creek" (which overlooked Lake Pratchett). Tellum's radio show consisted mostly of him describing the trivial exploits of his day-to-day life, which ultimately proved to be unpopular.
The Wormy Marrons Case[edit | edit source]
Ted Tellum first met Dick Tracy when Tracy was pursuing the fugitive murderer Wormy Marrons. Marrons had attempted to steal Tellum's ice-boat, and later took refuge in Tellum's home broadcasting studio. Marrons held Tellum and his crew at gunpoint, and demanded that they keep his presence a secret.
Tellum saw an opportunity to boost his show's sagging ratings, and he made an appeal to Marrons' vanity. Tellum convinced Marrons that his voice was pleasant and seductive, and he incorporated Marrons into a feature on the radio show. Marrons, identified only as "The Voice with the Kiss", would read romantic sentiments to Tellum's (primarily female) listeners. The gambit was successful and the show's ratings improved.
As Marrons became more comfortable hiding out at Tellum's home, Tellum saw a new opportunity to generate attention and interest. Tellum secretly contacted Dick Tracy with a plan to get Marrons to incriminate himself. Tracy and his fellow officers hid in the garage of Tellum's home while Tellum provided Marrons with a script that was designed to affect Marrons' conscience. Marrons confessed to the murder of his wife, then, realizing what he had done, shot Tellum's recording equipment. Marrons was about to shoot Tellum as well when Tracy revealed himself and Marrons fled.
Wormy Marrons was caught shortly thereafter. Tracy had used his own recording gear to capture Marrons' confession, and he congratulated Tellum on his efforts.
Moving Up and Branching Out[edit | edit source]
Ted Tellum later appeared as the host of a popular television program that featured talented child acts. B.O. Plenty and Gravel Gertie brought their young daughter Sparkle Plenty to meet Tellum, who was impressed with the child's musical ability.
The Return of Ted Tellum[edit | edit source]
Ted Tellum encountered Dick Tracy again in 2011. At that time, Tellum was once again working in radio, now as a part of Schrecker Broadcasting Network (SBN). Tellum's show was now more political, making appeals to citizens to protect their rights and be wary of extremists.
Tellum received a tip about Morning Gloria, who was providing explosive material to known terrorists, using a local flower shop as a cover. Tellum passed this information on to Tracy, who was appreciative but dubious.
Later, Gloria left the bodies of two of her terrorist clients (that she had killed) in a van parked in Tellum's reserved space in the network parking garage. When Tellum discovered the bodies, he panicked. He had the truck moved and the bodies dumped without informing the police. He then became increasingly paranoid and reliant on prescription narcotics. He became fixated on the idea that "men with beards" (as the two terrorists had been) were out to destroy America.
The bodies were found and traced back to Tellum. He was arrested when Tracy observed the presence of empty pill bottles in Tellum's office. After regaining his composure, Tellum revealed what he knew about the dead terrorists. His release was secured, with the understanding that he would seek treatment for his chemical dependency.
Later, Tellum encountered the criminal Jimmy Choo Shooz, who was attempting to recover a hidden cache of stolen gold that had been buried near Tellum's lakefront home. Shooz forced Tellum to dig for the gold at gunpoint. An industrial accident resulted in the water from lake being sucked into a series of underground tunnels beneath it. Tellum and Shooz were on the shore when this happened and were spotted by Dick Tracy in a police helicopter. Tellum cooperated with Tracy and was rescued, but Shooz tried to escape in Tellum's boat. The boat was sucked into a whirlpool and Shooz drowned.
The change in the landscape caused the land under Tellum's house to shift, and a distraught Tellum watched as his house slid into the lake. Tellum decided to capitalize on the publicity and made a show of committing himself to helping Tracy find the stolen gold.
Appearances in Other Media[edit | edit source]
Dick Tracy Meets His Match[edit | edit source]
Ted Tellum was a major character in the original novel Dick Tracy Meets His Match, written by Max Allan Collins. The novel (the second original follow-up novel to the 1990 feature film) was set in the early days of television. Tellum's characterization was very similar to his depiction in the comic strip, as he was arrogant, opportunistic, and manipulative.
In the novel, Tellum was a successful radio broadcaster that had moved into the new field of television. He had several shows on Diet Smith's new local network, and had gathered a large talent pool around him that included Tonsils, Dot View, Spike Dyke, and Sparkle Plenty. Tellum planned to take his talents to a national level, and he abused and betrayed several of his associates in pursuit of his goals. He also ran afoul of the violent criminal T.V. Wiggles, which ultimately resulted in Tellum's murder. Tracy was eventually able to bring the killer to justice.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Tellum's last name is a corruption of the words "Tell them" or more colloquially "Tell 'em".
- When Tellum first re-appeared in 2011, his hair was colored grey in some daily strips. This is the result of third-party colorists' efforts, not the official creative team's.
- Tellum's 2011 radio format (and subsequent pill addiction) was apparently inspired by the real-life broadcaster Rush Limbaugh.
- When Tellum returned in 2011, Tracy described him as having helped to capture Wormy and T.V. Wiggles. This is not entirely accurate, as Tellum had no involvement in the Wiggles case, other than putting Sparkle Plenty on television which attracted Wiggles' attention.