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|Born||April 22, 1909|
Dayton, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||August 18, 1952 (aged 43)|
Tarzana, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)|
|Known for||Dick Tracy|
|Spouse(s)||Virginia Carroll (1936–1952) (his death)|
The son of George and Edna May Byrd, Ralph Byrd was born in Dayton, Ohio. Before he began acting in films, he sang and danced in theatrical productions.
Byrd was a good, all-purpose actor with a gift for delivering dialogue in a natural, ingratiating way. His screen characters could be breezy and affable or tough and authoritative, as the role required. He debuted in movies with a bit part in Red-Headed Woman in (1932).
Once established in Republic Pictures' Dick Tracy serials (beginning in 1937), he was usually cast in action features (as a truck driver, lumberjack, cowboy, etc.), despite not having the usual brawny frame that went with these roles. He had a strong, resolute jaw, however, which gave him a heroic presence.
Republic cast Byrd as Chester Gould's comic-strip detective Dick Tracy in the 1937 serial of the same name. The film was so successful that it spawned three sequels (unheard of in serials): Dick Tracy Returns, Dick Tracy's G-Men (featuring a young Jennifer Jones, under her real name of Phylis Isley), and Dick Tracy vs. Crime Inc. (reissued in 1952 as Dick Tracy vs. the Phantom Empire).
RKO Radio Pictures made a feature film, Dick Tracy, in 1945, with Morgan Conway in the title role. After two films, exhibitors complained. To them, Ralph Byrd was Dick Tracy, and only Ralph Byrd would do. RKO capitulated, and hired Byrd to finish the series. Dick Tracy's Dilemma and Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome were both released in 1947.
Byrd continued to work in action fare in the late 1940s, and when the Dick Tracy property became a TV series in 1950, Byrd was the obvious choice to reprise his most famous role. The shows were produced on low budgets, with Byrd forced to cope with long hours and strenuous action scenes. The accelerated pace of TV production took its toll on the overworked actor's health, and he succumbed to a heart attack in Tarzana, California, on August 18, 1952 and is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale). He was 43 years old.
- Red-Headed Woman (1932) as Driver with Mustache (uncredited)
- Chinatown Squad (1935) as Desk Sergeant (uncredited)
- The Adventures of Rex and Rinty (1935, Serial) as Forest Ranger Jerry Morton [Chs. 5-6] (uncredited)
- The Affair of Susan (1935) as Mechanic (uncredited)
- Hell-Ship Morgan (1936) as Dale
- Border Caballero (1936) as Tex Weaver
- Pride of the Marines (1936) as Male Nurse (uncredited)
- The Last Outlaw (1936) as Pilot (uncredited)
- The Final Hour (1936) as Department of Justice Guard (uncredited)
- Two-Fisted Gentleman (1936) as Charley
- Swing Time (1936) as Hotel Clerk (uncredited)
- Alibi for Murder (1936) as Cop (uncredited)
- A Tenderfoot Goes West (1936) as Steve
- White Legion (1936) as NCO Clerk (uncredited)
- We Who Are About to Die (1937) as Police Lab Technician (uncredited)
- Find the Witness (1937) as Tex
- Blake of Scotland Yard (1937) as Dr. Jerry Sheehan
- They Wanted to Marry (1937) as Roger Coleman (uncredited)
- Sea Devils (1937) as Court-Martial Seaman (uncredited)
- Dick Tracy (1937, Serial) as Dick Tracy
- Motor Madness (1937) as C.P.O. Mike Burns
- Criminals of the Air (1937) as Williamson
- They Gave Him a Gun (1937) as Wounded Soldier (uncredited)
- San Quentin (1937) as Cop on Phone (scenes deleted)
- A Fight to the Finish (1937) as Jimmy (uncredited)
- S.O.S. Coast Guard (1937) as Lt. Terry Kent
- The Firefly (1937) as French Lieutenant (uncredited)
- The Trigger Trio (1937) as Larry Smith
- Paid to Dance (1937) as Nickels Brown
- Born to Be Wild (1938) as Steve Hackett
- Army Girl (1938) as Capt. Bob Marvin
- Dick Tracy Returns (1938) as Dick Tracy
- Down in 'Arkansaw' (1938) as John Parker
- Fighting Thoroughbreds (1939) as Ben Marshall
- S.O.S. Tidal Wave (1939) as Jeff Shannon
- Mickey the Kid (1939) as Dr. Ben Cameron
- Dick Tracy's G-Men (1939) as Dick Tracy
- The Captain Is a Lady (1940) as Randy - Seaman (uncredited)
- The Golden Fleecing (1940) as Larry Kelly
- The Howards of Virginia (1940) as James Howard
- Dulcy (1940) as Businessman in Meeting (uncredited)
- Drums of the Desert (1940) as Paul Dumont
- North West Mounted Police (1940) as Constable Ackroyd
- The Mark of Zorro (1940) as Student / Officer (uncredited)
- Dark Streets of Cairo (1940) as Dennis Martin
- The Son of Monte Cristo (1940) as William Gluck
- Misbehaving Husbands (1940) as Bob Grant
- Play Girl (1941) as Miami Doctor (uncredited)
- The Penalty (1941) as Brock
- Power Dive (1941) as Jackson - Draftsman
- Desperate Cargo (1941) as Tony Bronson
- Dr. Kildare's Wedding Day (1941) as Policeman (uncredited)
- Navy Blues (1941) as Lieutenant (uncredited)
- A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941) as Al Bennett
- Dick Tracy vs. Crime Inc. (1941) as Dick Tracy
- Duke of the Navy (1942) as Breezy Duke
- Broadway Big Shot (1942) as Jimmy O'Brien
- Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book (1942) as Durga
- Moontide (1942) as Rev. Wilson
- Ten Gentlemen from West Point (1942) as Maloney
- Careful, Soft Shoulder (1942) as Elliott Salmon
- Manila Calling (1942) as Corbett
- Time to Kill (1942) as Lou Venter, bodyguard
- Margin for Error (1943) as Pete - Dice-Playing Soldier (uncredited)
- The Meanest Man in the World (1943) as Reporter (uncredited)
- They Came to Blow Up America (1943) as Burkhardt
- Guadalcanal Diary (1943) as Ned Rowman
- December 7th: The Movie (1943) as Reporter (uncredited)
- Four Jills in a Jeep (1944) as Sergeant in Mess Hall (uncredited)
- Tampico (1944) as Quartermaster O'Brien (uncredited)
- Stallion Road (1947) as Richmond Mallard
- Dick Tracy's Dilemma (1947) as Dick Tracy
- The Vigilante (1947) as Greg Sanders / The Vigilante
- Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947) as Dick Tracy
- The Argyle Secrets (1948) as Police Lt. Samuel Samson
- Stage Struck (1948) as Police Sgt. Tom Ramey
- Canon City (1948) as Officer Gray
- Jungle Goddess (1948) asBob Simpson
- Thunder in the Pines (1948) as 'Boomer' Benson
- Radar Secret Service (1950) as Static
- Union Station (1950) as Priest (uncredited)
- The Redhead and the Cowboy (1951) as Capt. Andrews
- Lightning Strikes Twice (1951) as Jack Ross, Hair Tonic Salesman on Bus (uncredited)
- Double Crossbones (1951) as Will - Debtor (uncredited)
- Close to My Heart (1951) as Charlie (uncredited)
- My Favorite Spy (1951) as Official (uncredited)
- Bugles in the Afternoon (1952) as First officer (uncredited)
- The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 305. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
- Backer, Ron (2010). Mystery Movie Series of 1940s Hollywood. McFarland. p. 262. ISBN 9780786457007. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
- "Actor Ralph Byrd Dies; Was Film Dick Tracy". Lebanon Daily News. Pennsylvania, Lebanon. United Press. August 19, 1952. p. 12. Retrieved February 15, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Passings: Virginia Carroll, Character actress and leading lady". Los Angeles Times. 2009-07-30. Retrieved 2009-08-01.
- "Ralph Byrd Personifies Dick Tracy". Harrisburg Telegraph. Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. February 1, 1937. p. 16. Retrieved February 15, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- Cline, William C. In the Nick of Time: Motion Picture Sound Serials. McFarland. p. 80. ISBN 9780786404711. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
- Harmon, Jim; Glut, Donald F. (2013). Great Movie Serials Cb: Great Movie Serial. Routledge. p. 174. ISBN 9781136223211. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
- Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2. McFarland & Company (2016) ISBN 0786479922
- Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 39. ISBN 9780786409839. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
- "Ralph Byrd, Veteran Screen Actor, Dies". The Daily Republican. Pennsylvania, Monongahela. United Press. August 19, 1952. p. 5. Retrieved February 15, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
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