Jerry Tracy

Created by Theodore A. Tinsley
Pseudonyms include Reid Sleyton
(1894-79)

Hard-boiled Daily Planet gossip columnist JERRY TRACY makes Broadway his beat, in two dozen or so short stories in the pager of Black Mask in the thirties, full of rat-ta-tat-tat action.

Because Jerry was probably the toughest, most two-fisted gossip columnist you’d ever want to meet, as fast “with his typewriter as he was with a .45,” as the blurb goes.

But of course, he was a sucker for a dame in distress, or a pal with a hard luck story, and he had a definite knack for sniffing out murders. The most important people in the world come to Broadway–to eat in restaurants, dance in nightclubs, and fortunately for pulp readers, todie in rain-slicked back alleys. Whatever the big names are doing, Jerry Tracy hears about it–and tells the world in his infamous Daily Planet.

He even popped up in a trio of low-budget B-films, all of which made Jerry the host of a popular radio show. The first, Panic on the Air, starred Lew Ayres as Jerry “Franklin.”

The other two, Murder is News and Manhattan Shakedown, were “Canadian quickies,” shot in Victoria, British Columbia and produced by Kenneth J. Bishop, intended mainly for the British market. Meant to skirt British content rules, Bishop cranked out a dozen or so of these, including The Secrets of Chinatown, and Convicted (1938), the first-ever Cornell Woolrich adaptation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A prolific pulpster, Theodore A. Tinsley wrote for most of the big ones. His best-known creation was Carrie, but he also wrote Jerry Tracy, hard-boiled Broadway gossip columnist and Amusement, Inc., about a gang of crimebusting vigilantes lead by Major John Tattersall Lacy (aka “The Scarlet Ace”). He also penned over two dozen stories featuring The Shadow (the first ones not to be written by Walter B. Gibson).

SHORT STORIES

  • “Party from Detroit” (October 1932, Black Mask)
  • “South Wind” (November 1932, Black Mask)
  • “Park Avenue Item” (December 1932, Black Mask)
  • “Beyond All Light” (January 1933, Black Mask)
  • “Ball and Chain” (February 1933, Black Mask)
  • “Help Wanted” (March 1933, Black Mask)
  • “He Asked for it” (Mask May 1933, Black Mask)
  • “Somebody Stole My Pal” (July 1933, Black Mask)
  • “Smoke” (June 1934, Black Mask)
  • “Keep on Asking” (May 1935, Black Mask)
  • “Murderer’s Guest” (July 1935, Black Mask)
  • “Behind the Column” (August 1935, Black Mask)
  • “Ticketed for Death” (September 1935, Black Mask)
  • “Five Spot” (November 1935, Black Mask)
  • “Body Snatcher” (February 1936, Black Mask)
  • “Storm Signal” (June 1936, Black Mask)
  • “Murder Maze” (September 1936, Black Mask)
  • “Little Guy” (January 1937, Black Mask)
  • “Manhattan Whirligig” (April 1937, Black Mask)
  • “Murder Is News” (August 1937, Black Mask)
  • “No More Limericks” (April 1938, Black Mask)
  • “Make It Murder” (September 1938, Black Mask)
  • “Station K-I-L-L” (November 1938, Black Mask)
  • “Guide to Murder” (June 1939, Black Mask)
  • “My Candle Burns” (April 1940, Black Mask)

COLLECTIONS

FILMS

  • PANIC ON THE AIR
    (aka “Trapped by the Wireless”)
    (1936, Columbia)
    54 minutes
    Based on the 1935 story “Five Spot” by Theodore A. Tinsley
    Screenplay by Harold Shumate
    Directed by D. Ross Lederman
    Produced by Kenneth J. Bishop
    Filmed in Victoria, British Columbia
    Starring Lew Ayres as JERRY FRANKLIN (Tracy in the original story)
    Also starring Florence Rice, Benny Baker, Edwin Maxwell, Charles C. Wilson, Murray Alper, Wyrley Birch, Robert Emmett Keane, Gene Morgan, Eddie Lee
  • MURDER IS NEWS | Watch it now!
    (1937, Warwick Pictures/Central Films/Columbia)
    Based on a story by Theodore A. Tinsley
    Screenplay by Edgar Edwards
    Directed by Leon Barsha
    Produced by Kenneth J. Bishop
    Filmed in Victoria, British Columbia
    Starring John Gallaudet as JERRY TRACY
    Also starring Iris Meredith, George McKay, Doris Lloyd, John Hamilton, John Graham Spacey, Frank C. Wilson, Colin Kenny
  • MANHATTAN SHAKEDOWN
    (1937, Central Films/Columbia)
    Based on a story by Theodore A. Tinsley
    Screenplay by Edgar Edwards
    Directed by Leon Barsha
    Produced by Kenneth J. Bishop
    Filmed in Victoria, British Columbia
    Starring John Gallaudet as JERRY TRACY
    Also starring Rosalind Keith, George McKay, Reginald Hincks, Bob Rideout, Phyllis Clare, Donald Douglas

FURTHER INVESTIGATION

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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