Monday, May 30, 2022

Dick Tracy Villain "Returns" to the Comic Strip...

...despite never having appeared in the comic strip...or comic book...or text story...

...or the serials/b-movies/1950s live action TV series/1960s and 70s animated shows, or the Warren Beatty movie...or any other incarnation the public saw!
So who the hell is he?
In the spring of 1966, due to the phenomenal success of midseason replacement Batman, ABC asked producer William Dozier to try out other comic properties as TV series for the 1966-67 season.
He considered three...
Wonder Woman
...which resulted in a test reel featuring gorgeous future Planet of the Apes starlet Linda (Nova) Harrison as Wonder Woman...(actually a delusional Diana Prince's self-image of herself) which you can see HERE.
The Green Hornet
...which had a half-hour pilot, then a one-season series that (damn it) still isn't available on DVD/BluRay or streaming!
Dick Tracy a half-hour pilot starring future soap opera fixture Ray MacDonnell as the square-jawed hero!)
The villain of the episode was Victor (King Tut) Buono as Mr Memory, a villain who used computers linked directly to his brain...

In reference to the "henchmen" the as yet-unnamed character above mentions, Tracy made short work of them using karate!
(Dick was a serious kick-ass in this version!)
There's a kool blog entry about the pilot HERE with a link to the pilot on YouTube!
Is the character in the strip, in fact, Mr Memory?
Keep reading in your local paper or 
HERE to find out his nefarious plor for revenge!
(Trivia: there wasDick Tracy novel by William Johnston issued in 1970 featuring a villain named "Mr Computer".
Since Johnston was primarily a novelization writer doing books based on TV series and movies ranging from Get Smart to Room 222 to Klute to Caligula, I suspect this was based on unused plots for the TV series featuring Mr Memory.)


  1. A few quick corrections:
    - Bill Dozier made the Dick Tracy pilot for NBC: it nearly made the fall schedule, in place of Dragnet.
    NBC had a prior hold on the Tracy rights from an old deal from years before; when Dozier heard about this, he went to NBC and offered his services to make a pilot for them.

    - In 1967, Ray Macdonnell had been established on The Edge Of Night on CBS for nearly a decade (starting 1961).
    Dozier's #2 man Charlie Fitzsimons brought him out fro NYC to Hollywood, put the fedora on his head, and that's how Ray got the part.

    - As with Green Hornet, Dozier & Co. wanted to do Tracy as an hour-long show, with just a bit more edge to it; NBC couldn't shake the comic book mentality - and so it went.

    - William Johnston, one of the all-timers in tie-in novels, always wrote original stories, as opposed to novelizing existing scripts.
    By 1970, the Tracy TV project was long since done.

    - As for any scripts that might have been written for Dozier & Co. - well, it would be up to whoever has custody of those to make them available for public view; after all this time, it just might be interesting to see them - and if there were any production or casing notes still around, they might prove interesting too ...
    ... I mean, you never know, do you?

    1. "In 1967, Ray Macdonnell had been established on The Edge Of Night on CBS for nearly a decade (starting 1961)."

      Ray did 12 episodes of Edge of Night between 1961 and 1970. according to IMDB
      7 of them were before Dick Tracy.
      Apparently not a long-term role.

  2. IMDb is not noted for its detailed coverage of daytime dramas, which typically run five episodes a week, up to 260 episodes in a calendar year.
    On Edge Of Night, Ray Macdonnell played "Phil Capice", a businessman who was married to the daughter of the richest man in Monticello, and figured in many of the crime/mystery storylines over the decade he appeared.
    I know this because during the Sixties, my brother Sean and I watched Edge every afternoon as we were doing our homework.
    Ray Macdonnell was kept busy on : for a stretch of several months, he played a dual role - 'Phil Capice' and a criminal who was made into a lookalike via plastic surgery.
    I remember that the announcer had to start and end the daily show with an announcement that the normally live show had to start using videotape for certain scenes (I think that Edge was the first daytime show to do that).
    Anyway, between 1961 and 1970 (even with time off for the trip to Hollywood for the Dick Tracy pilot), it's safe to say that Ray Macdonnell's Edge episode count was likely well into the 100s - and his subsequent 41-year run on All My Children possibly exceeded that ...

  3. Seems odd that, if the actor was a dayplayer...and as popular as you claim...they'd be willing to let him out of his contract that easily.
    Also odd that there are almost no pix of him as Phil, while there are hundreds of pix of him as Dr Joe Martin from All My Children...
    Note: IMDB doesn't even list Edge of Night in Robert Webber's credits, even though he ORIGINATED the role of Phil Capice, so there is that!
    Guess we'll agree to disagree...

  4. ATTN. "Anonymous":
    This isn't about agreeing or disagreeing.
    I have both facts and direct memories; you have neither - only a childlike faith in the 'infallibility' of IMDb.

    For the record:
    Prior to the mid-Sixties (when the networks started videotaping the daytime soaps in color), there are almost no pix of any soap stars; that's not odd - that's cheap.
    For the longest time, daytime soaps were the 'red-headed stepchild' of TV.
    But Producers knew better; in both New York and Hollywood, they kept an eye on the soaps for anybody who looked interesting, and whenever possible, made deals to spring them for prime-time spots.
    That's how Ray Macdonnell got the call for Dick Tracy: most likely, somebody in Bill Dozier's office saw him on Edge Of Night, noticed his resemblance to the comic strip Tracy, and put him on the list.
    As for letting him out of a contract, remember that Tracy was just at the pilot stage at this point; Procter & Gamble (which owned Edge {and a number of other soaps} had frequently made actors available when prime-time interest was shown (previous examples from Edge included John Larkin and Larry Hagman, both of whom went more-or-less directly to prime time from their soap days - and they were not the only ones).
    When Tracy didn't sell, P&G welcomed Ray Macdonnell back to Edge for two more steady years, until ABC got him to jump to All My Children - but that's another story ...

    Apologies for the testy tone here, but I take a certain amount of care in whatever comments I make in posts like this - as witness how I sign my name to them.
    It's how I keep myself honest - and not careless.

  5. "Procter & Gamble (which owned Edge {and a number of other soaps} had frequently made actors available when prime-time interest was shown."

    Why would P&G want popular dayplayers leaving a show, especially in the middle of extended plotlines involving their character?
    It certainly wouldn't benefit the show itself!
    Doing a prime time guest shot would be one thing. The Law and Order franchise constantly uses soap actors as guest stars and bit players. But it films in NYC, and the actors aren't gone long.
    But leaving the show altogether would be another matter.
    Now if Ray had been near the end of his contract, and wanted to negotiate an option for leaving, but few soapsters had (or have) that sort of clout.

  6. "For the longest time, daytime soaps were the 'red-headed stepchild' of TV."

    As were radio soaps (and most of the 50s-60s soaps started on radio, though not Edge of Night.)
    But there are loads of pix of performers from the radio shows in newspapers and magazines of the period, as there are of TV soap performers, even before dedicated soap opera magazines came along!

  7. "I have both facts and direct memories; you have neither - only a childlike faith in the 'infallibility' of IMDb."

    I pointed out that IMDB doesn't list "Phil Capice" in Robert Webber's credits...though he originated the role, not does it list Webber in the Edge of Night cast.

    IMDB is hardly "infallable", but it's currently the best souce available to the public.
    I worked on Zoetrope's BaseLine during its' startup in 1982-84, and IMDB took a lot of elements from it, though reformatted.
    There was a lot of material on soaps, acquired directly from the studios, including cast and episode lists, but since it was an industry-only, subscription database, most of teh info hasn't been mad available to the public.