WALTER BURKE

Real Name: Walter Burke

Identity/Class: Human ghost

Occupation: Engineer

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: None

Enemies: Charlie Harris

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: "Crumb" (as called by Charlie Harris)

Base of Operations: Charlie Harris' amusement park, somewhere in America

First Appearance: Tales of Suspense I#30/1 (June, 1962)

Powers/Abilities: Walter Burke was a talented civil engineer who was skilled at designing and building amusement park rides; he constructed several projects for Charlie Harris' amusement park.

Burke suffered from an unspecified illness that left him in a frail state, and he experienced bouts of coughing, headaches, vertigo, and fatigue; he required unspecified medication to treat his condition.

Burke eventually died while working for the demanding and heartless Harris--his death was attributed to his illness, exacerbated by his grueling work-schedule.

Following his death, Burke returned to the world of the living as a transparent and intangible spectral being.

Height: 5' 10" (by approximation)
Weight: 150 lbs. (by approximation)
Eyes: Unrevealed
Hair: Blond

History:
(Tales of Suspense I#30/1 (fb) - BTS) - The past of Walter Burke is largely unrevealed, although he gained the reputation of being a good engineer; but he eventually fell upon hard times when he found himself unemployed and in poor health.

(Tales of Suspense I#30/1) - In desperate need of money so he could buy medicine, Burke applied for a job at Charlie Harris' amusement park. Having heard of Burke's reputation, Harris hired him to build some new and frightening rides for his park; but Harris told him that his salary wouldn't be much, and his work hours would be long. Considering his dire financial circumstances, Burke felt he was in no position to argue, so he accepted the job.

   Burke diligently worked at designing and supervising the construction of several amusement park rides for Harris, and he was pushed to the point of exhaustion. After completing each project, the weary engineer pleaded with Harris to let him have some time off to rest; but the demanding Harris wasn't interested in Burke's health, and he threatened to fire him if he didn't immediately move on to the next project.

   Harris decided to take a month's vacation in Europe, and he ordered Burke to construct the most frightening roller coaster ride of all time--Harris demanded that it was to be completed by the time he came back...or else! (...but Harris was planning to fire Burke when the roller coaster was completed, anyway--he figured he wouldn't need him anymore...and besides, he hated having sick people around him.)

   While Harris was off enjoying his European vacation, Burke's condition worsened, but still the deathly-ill engineer assiduously worked on what would be the final project of his life.

(Tales of Suspense I#30/1 - BTS) - The pressures of meeting the grueling work deadlines finally took a toll on the sickly Burke, and he succumbed to his illness--he died just before the roller coaster was completely finished.

(Tales of Suspense I#30/1) - A month later, Harris returned to America and learned of Burke's death--he callously thought that now he wouldn't have to bother firing Burke...and he wouldn't have to pay him for building the roller coaster, either.

   That night, Harris returned to his fog-enshrouded amusement park and saw the huge roller coaster. He decided to try it out himself, so he activated the ride and seated himself in the first car. But as the roller coaster cars climbed up the track, Harris felt a cold chill down his spine--he turned and was shocked to see the ghost of Walter Burke sitting next to him! The ghost told Harris that he would be the only person to ever ride this roller coaster, because it would never be used again.

   The cars reached the top of the tracks and came speeding back down, the fog lifted...and Harris was horrified when he saw the unfinished track!

   As the cars went flying off into empty space, the ghostly Walter Burke reminded Harris that he did order him to build the world's most frightening roller coaster ride...

Comments: Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.






This 7-page story--The Ghost Rode a Roller Coaster!--would be reprinted in Monsters on the Prowl I#19 (October, 1972), and it may be a reworking of the earlier story Scared to Death! from Journey into Unknown Worlds#16 (March, 1953) (...judging by that issue's cover).

Profile by Ron Fredricks.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Walter Burke has no known connections to:

Charlie Harris has no known connections to:


Walter Burke's amusement park projects

Burke designed and built some new and frightening rides for Charlie Harris' amusement park.

The attractions included:

The Tunnel of Horrors - Riders were carried through a spooky water-filled cavern by boat, past animated monstrous statues.

The Thrilling Underwater Ride - Riders in transparent cars where carried through a huge aquarium populated by various sea creatures.

The World's Scariest Roller Coaster Ride - A huge roller coaster, it was the final project that Burke worked on before his death; what made it so frightening--as Charlie Harris would learn--was that it was unfinished.
(Comment: Harris' amusement park originally had a smaller roller coaster, so possibly it was expanded/retro-fitted into this larger one.)

--Tales of Suspense I#30/1


Charlie Harris

The greedy and ruthless Harris owned an amusement park. He loved hearing his customers' thrilled screams when they rode his roller coaster because he figured the more frightened they were, the more money they'd spend at his park.

Harris wanted to add some frightening new rides so he could make more money. When unemployed engineer Walter Burke came to Harris looking for work, Harris wanted him to build the new rides; the sickly Burke was in desperate need of money to buy medicine for his illness, so Harris took advantage of Burke's dispirited situation and told him that his salary wouldn't be much, and his work hours would be long. Burke was in no position to argue, so he accepted Harris' job offer.

Burke successfully completed several new attractions for the park, but Harris continuously goaded the ill engineer to work harder, and he heartlessly denied the weary Burke's requests for time off to rest.

Harris went on vacation to Europe for a month, but before he left, he ordered Burke to construct the most frightening roller coaster of all time, and he wanted it completed by the time he came back...or else! But while Harris was enjoying himself on vacation, the deathly-ill Burke was diligently working on the final project of his life.

Finally, a month later, Harris was aboard a passenger ship returning to America. He laughingly thought to himself that if Burke did a good job on the roller coaster, he'd fire him as a "reward"--he figured he wouldn't need him anymore...and besides, he hated being around sick people. But then Harris received a radiogram announcing Burke's death--he callously thought it would save him the trouble of firing Burke, and now he wouldn't have to pay him for building the roller coaster, either.

That evening, Harris went to his fog-enshrouded amusement park to have a look at the new roller coaster--although he couldn't see it clearly because of the mist, he was impressed by the huge size of it. He decided to activate it so he could take the first ride.

Harris was sitting in the first car as the roller-coaster climbed up the track, but then he suddenly felt a cold chill down his spine--he turned and was shocked to see the ghost of Walter Burke sitting next to him!

The ghostly Burke told Harris that he would be the only person to ever ride this roller coaster, because it would never be used again. The cars reached the top of the tracks and came speeding down, the fog lifted... and Harris was horrified when he saw the unfinished track!

As the roller coaster cars went flying off the uncompleted track, the ghostly Burke reminded Harris that he did want the world's most frightening roller coaster ride...

(... and presumably, Charlie Harris was killed in the ensuing fall.)
 


--Tales of Suspense I#30/1


images: (without ads)
Tales of Suspense I#30/1, p2, pan3 (Main Image - Walter Burke)
Tales of Suspense I#30/1, p2, pan4 (Headshot - Walter Burke)
Tales of Suspense I#30/1, p5, pan6 (Walter Burke works on roller coaster while suffering from illness)
Tales of Suspense I#30/1, p6, pan8 (Walter Burke as a ghost (left), sitting next to Charlie Harris in roller coaster car)
Tales of Suspense I#30/1, p3, pan5 (people in boats riding through Tunnel of Horrors)
Tales of Suspense I#30/1, p4, pan4 (people in transparent cars riding through Thrilling Underwater Ride)
Tales of Suspense I#30/1, p6, pan4 (Charlie Harris looks up at fog-enshrouded World's Scariest Roller Coaster Ride)
Tales of Suspense I#30/1, p2, pan2 (Charlie Harris)
Tales of Suspense I#30/1, p6, pan1 (aboard ship returning to America, Charlie Harris reads radiogram announcing Walter Burke's death)
Tales of Suspense I#30/1, p7, pan9 (Walter Burke's ghost (left) and Charlie Harris, as roller coaster cars run off unfinished track)


Appearances:
Tales of Suspense I#30/1 (June, 1962) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (pencils), Dick Ayers (inks)


First Posted: 08/28/2020
Last updated: 08/28/2020

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

Non-Marvel Copyright info
All other characters mentioned or pictured are ™ and © 1941-2099 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved. If you like this stuff, you should check out the real thing!
Please visit The Marvel Official Site at:
http://www.marvel.com

Special Thanks to http://www.g-mart.com/ for hosting the Appendix, Master List, etc.!

Back to Characters