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Villains Wiki

Aren't you gonna frisk me?
~ Breathless Mahoney

"Breathless" Mahoney is an antagonist in Chester Gould's Dick Tracy comic strip. In the strip, she schemes with her mother to gain possession of a deceased criminal's fortune.

She is one of the two main antagonists in the 1990 film adaptation, in which she was portrayed by singer/actress Madonna. In the film, Breathless is a sultry nightclub singer, and the moll of gangsters Lips Manlis and Big Boy.

In the comics

Breathless first appeared in the Dick Tracy comic strip in 1945. She employed a ruse in an attempt to recover a cache of money that had belonged to Shaky, her mother's former husband. Breathless and her mother fought over Shaky's money, which Breathless eventually stole and fled the city.

After several misadventures, Breathless hid at the rural home of B.O. Plenty. Tracy tracked Breathless to Plenty's farm and she fled again. Plenty found her before Tracy did and he attempted to strangle her to death. He left Breathless near-dead and stole Shaky's money.

Breathless was found and received medical attention. She survived and was convicted for her various crimes (including murder). In prison, she succumbed to an unspecified illness, but she absolved B.O. Plenty of any wrong-doing before she died.

Some of Breathless' relatives later encountered Dick Tracy as well. Her sister Heartless sought revenge against Tracy and Plenty on more than one occasion, but eventually came to realize that revenge was pointless.

In the film

Breathless is first seen in the film with Manlis at his nightclub. She is kidnapped along with him by Manlis' former protégé, Big Boy Caprice. When Big Boy kills Manlis, Breathless switches her allegiance to him, even though she is personally disgusted by him.

When Dick Tracy starts breaking up Big Boy's empire, Breathless is intrigued by him and tries (unsuccessfully) to seduce him.

Breathless eventually tires of serving Big Boy, and begins robbing his establishments as "The Blank", an armed robber who appears to have no face. During Tracy's climactic battle with Big Boy, she comes to Tracy's aid as "The Blank", but Big Boy mortally wounds her. After he kills Big Boy, Tracy unmasks Breathless, who kisses him as she dies.

In the graphic novel prequels to the 1990 film, Breathless is given a back story. She is introduced as a young, naïve aspiring singer named Patty Mahoney who arrives in the city dreaming of stardom. However, she is quickly robbed and left homeless and destitute. A pimp tries to take advantage of her, but she fights back and kills him. She goes to prison, where she becomes a hardened killer. Upon her release three years later, Breathless becomes crime lord Lips Manlis' moll by threatening his girlfriend with a switchblade and scaring her off. Manlis makes her the star attraction of his nightclub.


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