by Jim Nintzel
SECRET IDENTITY: Dick Tuck
SECRET POWER: Able to cloud the minds and puncture the egos of politicians
SECRET ORIGIN: After returning home from World War II, Dick Tuck joined a new fight: The battle against GOP politicians! Who knows what bad policy proposals lurk in the hearts of Republicans? The Prankster knows!
THE REAL STORY: Born in Tucson, Dick Tuck, 87, has long been involved in the background of American politics. He was a close friend of Robert F. Kennedy and was in the kitchen with RFK when Kennedy was shot in 1968. He worked with both Pat and Jerry Brown when they were governors of California. His marriage was officiated by Hunter S. Thompson. Tuck launched his own 1966 campaign for the California State Senate at a cemetery and told reporters that just because people had died, it didn't mean they'd lost their right to vote. After he lost the race, he uttered the immortal words: "The voters have spoken—the bastards."
Tuck is particularly notorious for his pranks against Richard Nixon. Regarding their first meeting: Tuck, for some reason, was assigned the job of setting up a speech for Nixon at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Tuck rented out an enormous auditorium, invited only a few people, and introduced Nixon with a lengthy speech before asking Nixon to speak about the International Monetary Fund. Nixon's words to him afterward: "You've done your last advance, Dick Tuck!"
SUPER BESTS: "My favorite restaurant would be any one where I could have lunch with Peggy Johnson. She was a good newsperson (when she worked at KUAT Channel 6's Arizona Illustrated). She runs the Loft Cinema, and I don't go very often, but she's running a great organization.
"Maynards Market and Kitchen is fine. I have fond memories of my family taking me to the train station so I could go East to school. The truth of the matter is, I loved going away to school, but I always liked to extract some bounty from my family by pretending they were torturing me by sending me off to school.
"I like the Cup Café in the Congress Hotel. I was only 10 years old when John Dillinger was arrested in the Congress Hotel. It was very exciting for me. Those were the golden days of gangsters.
"I really think it's amazing what's gone on in downtown Tucson. Anne-Marie Russell, who runs MOCA, is a very dear friend of mine. I think that firehouse is going to turn out to be one of the great museums in this part of the country. I think it has some great possibilities.
"I like that new place, Hub Restaurant and Ice Creamery. And right across the street, there's a new coffee place, Sparkroot. They put Starbucks to shame, I think, although I think Starbucks is all right. In New York City, Starbucks is great up and down Madison Avenue, because you can always find a place to relieve yourself. ... That's always a nice thing to know, especially once you reach a certain age. But at any rate, Anne-Marie took me to Sparkroot the other day, and that looked pretty good to me.
"The Veterans (Affairs) Hospital is one of the better ones in the country. They've been very good to me. My most recent thing is, they put this defibulator and other equipment in me. I have a computer in my chest that runs the pacemaker and a couple of other things. I've got my energy back since it's been installed, and I'm looking forward to maybe a few more years around here."