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The Show

Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome

Series info on UEN-TV

Boris Karloff plays the villain who gives Chester Gould's iconic detective a run for his money in "Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome" (1947). For those unfamiliar with Karloff, "Gruesome" is a great introduction as this film lets you actually see the face of this legendary master of disguise. Karloff's film career spanned most of the 20th Century, and included several turns as Frankenstein's monster, thanks to his impressive height, menacing scowl, and skill with monster make-up. As with many actors of his day, Karloff changed his name, swapping out the "William Henry Pratt" for one that didn't underscore his British origins.

To make ends meet between the gigs that would lift him into prominence as a villain par excellence, Karloff dug ditches and performed other manual labor. His solid work ethic brings to mind the old saying that there are no small acting roles, only small actors—an attitude that many a successful artist has applied to honest, though unglamorous, odd jobs along the road to film stardom. For example…

  • Brad Pitt financed his acting classes by dressing up as a chicken to promote a fast food restaurant
  • Rene Zellweger was a maintenance worker
  • Harrison Ford was Boy Scout camp counselor
  • Sandra Bullock was a waiter
  • Liam Neeson was a forklift operator and truck driver
  • Al Pacino was a busboy and postal clerk
The Science

Julie Buck

Dr. Julie A. BuckJulie Buck, professor of Criminal Justice at Weber State College, discusses issues of eyewitness memory and Dick Tracy’s problematic investigative methods in the film “Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome.”


More Science to go with the Show

Related Resources

Weber State Department of Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice Careers

Dick Tracey and the Spider Gang

American Academy of Forensic Sciences

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