Mrs. Trueheart (Mamma) was Tess Trueheart’s kind-hearted mother and widowed wife of Emil Trueheart. Tess’s parents ran a delicatessen in 1931 before Dick Tracy became a detective and was simply courting their daughter. Emil and his wife lived with Tess on the second floor of the delicatessen and were out of debt, having saved $2,000 (a heck of a lot of money at the time), which they kept in a safe.
Tragically, a pair of mobsters working for Big Boy were spying on the house and knew about the money. The pair, one of whom was named Crutch burst in to the delicatessen while Tracy was present and demanded the safe combination. Emil refused and attempted to defend himself and was shot dead by Crutch. Mrs. Trueheart fainted dead away and the two criminals grabbed the cash and kidnapped Tess. Dick tried to stop them but was knocked out cold and only awoke when police were on the scene. On the spot, Dick Tracy joined Chief Brandon’s Plainclothes detective squad to avenge Emil’s murder.
Mrs. Truheart was rushed to the hospital, where she would stay for the entire length of Dick’s investigation and rescue of Tess. Once rescued, Tess visited her mother in the hospital as she slowly recovered from the shock of Emil’s death. She collected on his life insurance and took over day-to-day operation of the delicatessen, hiring Heine Stueben to assist her.
Counterfeiter Broadway Bates and his moll, Belle targeting Mrs. Trueheart and Heine at the delicatessen, hoping to con them out of the $10,000 life insurance payment. Dick was wise to their plans though and warned Mrs. Trueheart not to give them any money. Broadway later used torture to try to force Tracy to write a letter encouraging Tess’s mother change her mind but Dick turned the tables on Bates and took him into custody.
Mrs. Trueheart continued to make rare appearances, occasionally taking in boarders to make extra money. Once such boarder was the poison gas manufacturers Karpse and later Pruneface. Because of her suspicions, Junior began monitoring Pruneface’s activities which would help lead to the failure of his mission.
It has been decades since Tess’ mother has been seen in the strip and she has not been acknowledged as living or dead. We hope the current team might address this question at some point in the strip.