Chester Gould Through the Years
- Born on November 20 in Pawnee, Oklahoma to Alice (Miller) and Gilbert Gould.
- Oklahoma becomes a state. Seven-year-old Chester discovers the newspaper comic strip. He loves to draw and copies the comics adding in his own dialog.
- At age 8, he is encouraged by his father to sketch some of the politicians meeting at the Pawnee Courthouse for the Democratic County Convention. His father tapes Chester’s drawings up in the window of the newspaper office for all to see. Chester is thrilled when a lawyer on the Supreme Court buys a drawing that Chester drew of him.
- He enters his first cartoon contest taken from a trade magazine. The magazine offers $5.00 for the best cartoon illustrating the popularity of the movies. He wins first prize.
- He works during the summer painting advertising signs on sides of barns, and names on office doors.
- Chester spends 20 of those hard earned dollars on a correspondence course. “The School of W.L. Evans of Cartooning and Caricatures.”
- The second contest Chester enters is offered by the American Boy Magazine and pays a whopping $10.00 for first prize. Chester, again wins first prize.
- Oklahoma A&M College discovers Chester’s talent for caricatures and cartooning and asks him to do much of the cartoon artwork in their 1918 and 1919 A&M Year Books.
- Chester now known as “Ches,” graduates from high school. He and a classmate, “Chunk” create a 27 page Class History of 1919.
- Mr. Page, The editor of The Tulsa Democrat hires Gould to draw 18 political cartoons. It takes one month to draw the 18 cartoons. He is paid $35.00.
- The Gould family moves to Stillwater, Oklahoma to be close to Oklahoma A&M College where Chester enrolls as a freshman majoring in Commerce and Marketing.
- Chester buckles down in his sophmore year. The Daily Oklahoman Newspaper in Oklahoma City hires him to do a sports cartoon about athletes in the news. “In the Sports Spotlight” is a big hit.
- After Chester’s sophomore year he leaves Oklahoma for Chicago. He arrives in Chicago with his portfolio of editorial and sports cartoons, his small suit case and fifty dollars in his pocket.
- He rents a room, buys a drawing board, and registers at Northwestern University night school. Then he sets out to get a job with the Chicago Tribune, without any luck.
- Chester lands a temporary position with the Chicago Journal in their art department. He fills in for one month to replace a man out due to illness. The job pays $30.00 a week.
- Chester is hired by the Chicago Tribune to work in their Art Services Department. He draws advertising art for the newspaper earning $50.00 a week. (This was 9 years before he went to the Chicago Tribune as a creator of Dick Tracy). He is still sending comic strip ideas to J.M. Patterson without success.
- Graduates from Northwestern University. He is hired by Hearst’s Evening American at $60.00 a week. The second year with the American, Gould signs a 5-year contract. He is drawing 2 comic strips. The Radio Catts, a humorous strip about radio and Fillum Fables an adventure strip. He also reviews the top billings at Chicago Theaters with capsule interviews and caricatures of stars such as Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, and Sophie Tucker. “Why It’s A Windy City,” becomes another popular feature in the paper. Gould interviews and cartoons noted Chicago people. All the while, he is plugging away at comic strip ideas to catch J.M. Patterson’s eye, without success.
- On a blind date Gould meets Edna Gauger
- Edna Gauger and Chester Gould marry on November 6 and they move to Wilmette, Illinois.
- Daughter Jean is born.
- Chester leaves the Evening American, not wanting to get locked in to a 5-year contract. He is now earning $100.00 a week. He goes to the Chicago Daily News at $50.00 a week. Back to advertising art, some editorial cartoons, and a strip called The Girl Friends.
- So far, sixty different comic strip ideas have been sent to J.M. Patterson without success. Chester is still at the Daily News when he sends off his sixty-first idea. One month later, a telegram arrives reading, “Believe “Plainclothes Tracy has possibilities. Would like to see you when I go to Chicago. Please call Tribune office Monday about noon for an appointment. J.M. Patterson.” Gould meets with Patterson on Aug. 15, Patterson suggests the name is too long. “They call cops ‘Dicks’ let’s call him Dick Tracy.” As it was with all the Tribune owned comic strips, Patterson suggested to the cartoonist how to begin. So it was with Tracy. “Have Tracy call on his girl and have dinner with her family. They want to get married. That night hoodlums break in and stick up her father and kill him. You take it from there.” At that point, Tracy was a white collar worker not a detective. That would be the beginning of Dick Tracy in 1931.
- Gould immediately signs up for a course taught at Northwestern University that the Chicago Police attend called the School of Criminology headed by Calvin Goddard. The class is all about ballistics. Gould also becomes a familiar face at the State Street Police Department crime lab and is given carte blanche to visit the crime lab.
- Gould joins the Chicago Tribune on October 4, 1931. Dick Tracy first appears in the Detroit Mirror a Tribune owned paper. Gould’s great story telling combined with Tracy’s detective work takes the country by storm.
- Gould buys an abandoned farm and sixty acres near the farm town of Woodstock, Illinois 60 miles northwest of Chicago.
- After a year of building and remodeling the house, crops are planted and the Gould family leave Wilmette and move into real farm country. Gould’s studio now overlooks the farmyard, alfalfa fields and cow pasture. Gould goes into his Tribune Tower office six days a week. Later, he commutes to Chicago usually driving but sometimes by train on Mondays and Tuesdays and work from his home studio the remainder of the week.
- First use of the word “Crimestopper” appears in the Dick Tracy strip on April 30, 1947. Police Chief “Tiny” Hansman and Gould start an actual Crimestoppers Club in nearby Woodstock, Illinois.
- Dick Tracy becomes a household name. He is often mentioned on the Jack Benny, Kay Kyser, Charlie McCarthy and other radio shows. It is common to hear “Who do you think you are, Dick Tracy?”
- September 11, Crimestopper Textbook Tips Debuts
- Gould creates a 36-consecutive day Dick Tracy Black Bag Mystery to help increase circulation for the Chicago Tribune. Colonel Robert R. McCormick, personally presents Gould with a beautiful new Cadillac and drives it out of a big Black Mystery Bag.
- Gould hires Al Valanis, a retired Chicago policeman who has come up through the ranks and tackled some of Chicago’s notorious crimes. Valanis meets with Gould on Mondays to check his work for police accuracy.
- Gould is guest on “To Tell the Truth” TV game show.
- Gould is guest on Edward R. Murrow’s popular “Person to Person” TV interview show, which was filmed at Gould’s home in Woodstock. A 75-foot microwave sending tower has to be erected at the cost of $16,000 in order to broadcast the fifteen minute program from Woodstock.
- On October 22, Gould is a surprise celebrity guest on Ralph Edward’s “This is Your Life” Gould flies with a friend to California thinking he is going to preview some five minute Dick Tracy TV mystery movie clips. He is completely surprised to find himself on “This is Your Life.”
- Gould retires on December 25 at the age of 77. After forty-six-years-two-months and twenty-one days writing and drawing the Dick Tracy comic strip having never missed a deadline.
- Gould accepts the position of Honorary Chairman for the Woodstock Hospital’s Building Campaign Drive. He continues to answer fan mail and creates comic strip ideas for his own benefit. Though Chester’s name still appears on the Dick Tracy strip, Max Collins writes the story and Rick Fletcher, Chester’s former assistant draws the strip. Later former assistant and Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist, Dick Locher replaces Fletcher. Columnist, Michael Kilian later replaces Collins.
- Gould, now 82 years of age, receives Northwestern University’s highest recognition, the Alumni Medal.
- On May 11, Gould dies of congestive heart failure at age 84.