Egods 3/8 Tracy’s Come Home
WOODSTOCK, Ill. (AP) _ Dick Tracy came home Wednesday night.
So say the people of Woodstock, Ill., population 13,000 and home to Chester Gould, creator of the comic strip shooting to be this summer’s blockbuster movie.
As Tracy would say, ″Egods.″ Wednesday was Woodstock’s day.
A special preview took place Wednesday night at the Woodstock Opera House to give the town its first peek at the celluloid Tracy, that squeaky clean, jut-jawed good guy who has been cowing bad guys like no other copper since 1931.
The Walt Disney Co. film starring Warren Beatty and Madonna opens nationwide Friday.
Five hundred moviegoers paid $100 each to attend the sold-out Woodstock performance with Gould’s daughter, Jean O’Connell.
Proceeds will benefit the Chester Gould Memorial Library - a small-town museum planned to commemorate the late cartoonist and his famous characters like 88 Keys, Mumbles, Breathless and Pruneface.
″If I had asked you four months ago to meet me here in this theater to watch a Disney movie and listen to the mayor talk at 100 bucks a head, you’d have run me right out of town,″ said Mayor Jim Shoemaker. ″But here you are. We’re going to have a memorial library.″
Some who attended the showing said the movie was like ″Roger Rabbit″ in reverse - with real actors playing against cartoon backgrounds.
″The cinematography is phenomenal and Madonna is great,″ said Bob Billimack, a real-estate broker from Woodstock.
″It was fabulous,″ said another resident, Betty Hamilton. ″I was never a Dick Tracy fan, but now I am. I’m going to go back and read all the comic books.″
The show culminated a week of Dick Tracy Days in this town 50 miles northwest of Chicago. On Wednesday, Tracy’s trademark yellow fedora was everywhere.
Even Amcore Bank President James Brown had one on his conference table.
″We were Dick Tracy’s bank,″ Brown said, sporting his Tracy T-shirt.
Brown allowed as how business might be a little slow for Woodstock’s ″Crime Stoppers,″ Tracy’s junior police brigade bent on wiping crime off the map.
″Not many bad guys here in Woodstock,″ he said. ″We’ve never had anything that’s very damatic happen in the area.″
Black-haired, steely-eyed Dick Tracy first appeared during the Depression, the first comic to deviate from the ″funnies″ approach and venture into graphic violence.
Gould created - and knocked off - enough bad guys, really bad guys, for Woodstock and the whole country.
″I told myself, ’I’m gonna draw a guy that shoots them,‴ Gould said before his death at age 84 in 1985. ″It was kind of nice to have a cop who would shoot first and ask questions later.″
Don Peasley, who knew Gould for 40 years, said his friend was proud of the law-and-order values Tracy represented. ″You never had any court trials in Dick Tracy,″ bragged the 67-year-old chronicler of local history.
Indeed, some newspapers have found the strip too violent. In 1981, a Harrisburg, Pa., paper dropped Tracy and another strip, saying, ″these strips are not marginal - violence is the sole reason for their existence. Terrorism is grist for their mill.″
Nonetheless, Gould is a Woodstock hero.
″Woodstock is very proud to have had Chester Gould as our citizen,″ said Clara Cavallaro Peterson, organizer of Dick Tracy Days.
Peterson, a registered nurse and co-owner of a local miniature golf course, said persistence was the key in persuading Walt Disney Co. to show one of the film’s previews in Woodstock.
But, keep it straight: It’s just a preview. Disney officials were adamant that the real premiere - stars, 3,000 invited journalists and all - would be Thursday at Florida’s Walt Disney World.
Woodstock doesn’t mind.
″We have potted palms and a roped-off red carpet,″ Peterson said of Wednesday’s benefit performance. ″Some people have even rented limousines for fun.
″We got the movie - that’s all we ever wanted.″