Though he only vaguely resembled Chester Gould's jut-jawed comic strip detective Dick Tracy, Ralph Byrd played the character with such assurance and authority that it is well-nigh impossible to envision anyone else in the role. In films from 1936 after several years on stage, Byrd first appeared as Tracy in the 1937 Republic serial Dick Tracy, then reprised the role in the follow-up serials Dick Tracy Returns (1938) and Dick Tracy's G-Men (1939). When the film rights to the character shifted from Republic to RKO Radio in 1945, RKO attempted to create its own Tracy in the person of Morgan Conway. Fans protested, and Byrd was back in Tracy's fedora and trenchcoat in Dick Tracy's Dilemma (1947) and Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947). Ralph Byrd died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 43, shortly after filming 39 episodes of the Dick Tracy TV series.