- This article is about the character from the novels and films. You may be looking for the Hannibal version, or the Manhunter version of the character.
Francis Dolarhyde (June 14, 1938 - 1980) was a mass serial killer and the main antagonist of both the novel and film, Red Dragon. Although he is technically not a cannibal like Hannibal Lecter, he is nicknamed The Tooth Fairy by the press due to his compulsive tendency to bite his victims.
He has an alternative personality which he names "The Great Red Dragon" after William Blake's painting "The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun".
Childhood and Maltreatment
Francis Dolarhyde was born on June 14, 1938, in the city hospital of Springfield, Missouri, with a cleft lip and palate.
Once he reached age 5, Dolarhyde's maternal grandmother learned of her grandson's existence and disfigurement through his father Michael Trevane who was later killed in a Kansas City car wreck. She took custody of the boy after three days of visiting him, and he went to live with her in their family's rural mansion, which she operated as a nursing home for the elderly. Her motivations for adopting him, however, was to harass and punish his mother, who was remarried to a successful lawyer, Howard Vogt, a widowed advocate for the state legislature. She took Dolarhyde to many of Vogt's political rallies and, explaining to the audience who the boy was, made him say hello in a humiliating way due to his speech impairment. This made Vogt lose his election by 1,800 votes.
Dolarhyde grew up systematically abused under the watchful eye of his cruel grandmother, who often threatened him with emasculation whenever he wet his bed. Likely due to this treatment, Francis began to develop interest in a more violent nature, exposing neighbour children to the twitching and thrashing of beheaded chickens and then "playing" with the feathers, his grandmother - who saw the displays from the upstairs windows - had threatened to send Francis back to the orphanage and to wait with no pants on for his "punishment". Later that night Francis saw his Grandmother in bed seemingly asleep while he was trying to "protect her" with a hatchet he found in the yard.
After this, Francis began torturing animals - particularly chickens - by strangling them, his grandmother - possibly showing early signs of dementia - openly speaking about it in front of Francis said it couldn't be wild animals and was spiteful ex-employee's that were doing it, while this was happening, Francis was exalting in the recent strangling's while "making sure his penis was still there" which indicate early signs of sexual arousal in torture and mutilation.
At age 9, Dolarhyde's grandmother became afflicted with dementia and was confined to a private nerve sanatorium, so Dolarhyde was turned over to the care of his estranged mother and her husband in St. Louis; he was further abused verbally and physically by this family. To vent his anger, he again tortured animals and was sent back to the orphanage after being caught hanging his pet cat.
Service in the Army
Over the coming years, Dolarhyde continued a pattern of mutilating and killing pets. By age 17, he was caught breaking into a woman's house and was given the choice of facing criminal charges or enlist in the United States Army; he chose the Army. After completing basic training, he was sent to San Antonio and worked on medical-corps training films at Brooke Army Hospital. On his tour in Japan and neighbouring countries, he learns how to develop films and receives cosmetic surgery for his cleft palate. He later got a job with the Gateway Corp. as the production manager in their home movies division.
Dolarhyde was a bodybuilder and exceptionally strong; it is mentioned in the novel that even in his forties, Dolarhyde could have successfully competed in regional bodybuilding competitions. However, he was exceptionally shy because of his disfigurement and altered speech and did not have any sexual experiences with living women until meeting Reba McClane.
The Tooth Fairy
Dolarhyde began his killing spree in 1979 by murdering two families within a month after discovering The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun, which gave voice to an alternate personality. This alter ego, which he believes is a deity called the Red Dragon, compels him to murder in order to become the Dragon. As "the Dragon", Dolarhyde has no problem with speech and speaks in a harsh deeper tone. The two personalities can converse with one another. He committed both crimes on or near a full moon; it is hinted in the novel that he killed before that, however. He chooses his victims through the home movies that he edits as a film processing technician. On a trip to Hong Kong during his army service, he had a large dragon tattooed across his back and had two sets of false teeth made; one of them for his public life, the other distorted and razor-sharp for his killings, based on the mould of his grandmother's teeth.
Dolarhyde reads The National Tattler, a tabloid which runs sensationalist stories, collecting clippings about Hannibal Lecter's arrest and trial, about Will Graham, and his own murders. However, he is angered that he is referred to as the Tooth Fairy, speculating that the tabloids think he is homosexual. He reveres Lecter, calling himself his "avid fan" and sends him a message, hoping to meet and kill Lecter. Lecter in return leaves a coded message in the National Tattler, urging Dolarhyde to kill Graham's family. In a attempt to provoke Dolarhyde out of hiding, Graham interviews Freddy Lounds of The Tattler, in which he refers to "The Tooth-Fairy" as impotent, homosexual and possibly the product of an incestuous relationship on the part of his mother; as well as a series of false statements from an "offended" Dr Lecter. The interview outrages Dolarhyde who kidnaps Lounds intimidates him into recanting his article on tape and then bites his lips off. Dolarhyde returns to Chicago, ties Lounds to a wheelchair, sets him on fire, and rolls him down an incline into The Tattler's parking garage.
Dolarhyde develops romantic feelings with a blind co-worker named Reba McClane. He became comfortable in her company as she could not see his face. At first, the relationship quelled his murderous impulses but over time his alter ego began to order him to kill her, but he maintained control. He flew to New York and devoured the Dragon painting, believing it would destroy his alter ego, but it only infuriated it even more. When he returned to see Reba, he saw Ralph Mandy, a hated co-worker and rival for her attention, kiss her on the cheek. This angered him, prompting him to shoot Mandy in the head and chloroform Reba. He brings her to his home and reveals to Reba that he is the Red Dragon. He tearfully reveals that the Dragon is becoming too strong and demands her sacrifice. However, he sees the terror in Reba's eyes and is unable to sacrifice her. He sets the house on fire and prepares to shoot Reba with a shotgun but is not able to do so and apparently shoots himself in the head.
In reality, he shot the corpse of a recent victim, a man named Arnold Lang to fake his death and arrived at Graham's home in Marathon, Florida. He holds Graham's son, Willy, hostage and prepares to "change" him in front of Graham. In an intense battle, he severely disfigures Graham's face with a knife, before Molly executes Dolarhyde by shooting him multiple times in the chest and head. Dolarhyde was the third and final serial killer Will Graham encountered before he retires for good.
Dolarhyde targets families via home videos he processes through his work. He first murders the pet. When killing a family, he performs the murders on or near a full moon. When in the house, he first murders the mother, then the father, either by cutting their throat or shooting them. He then murders the children. After the killings, he smashes the mirrors and places the shards into the victim's eyes, so that they can see him for what he is. He arranges the corpses like an audience. He also shows necrophilic tendencies by sexually assaulting the corpses of the mothers and also records the crimes for sexual relief. By doing this, Dolarhyde believes that he is appeasing the Dragon personality and that he will eventually become the Dragon. This changes once he falls in love with Reba, causing conflict between the two personalities. When switching to the "Dragon", his voice becomes louder and deeper, and has no problems with speech, suggesting that Dolarhyde's speech impediment is partly psychosomatic.
As well as the "Tooth Fairy" killings, he is shown to be an efficient marksman with a gun, killing two men with quick headshots. He has also shown to kill for vengeance, in particular, his brutal killing of Freddy Lounds.
In Manhunter, the first film adaptation of Red Dragon, Dolarhyde is played by Tom Noonan, where the surname was spelled "Dollarhyde". In the second film adaptation of Red Dragon, he is played by Ralph Fiennes.
At San Diego Comic Con 2014, Bryan Fuller revealed Dolarhyde's debut episode as the eighth of season 3. On January 13, 2015, former Hobbit actor Richard Armitage was cast as Dolarhyde.