Not much was known of Dick's early life, except that he likely was born in New Hampshire. As a little boy he mentioned he could hold conversations with his paternal grandmother without either of them moving their lips. When he grew up he joined the US Army and was eventually assigned to be a cook for Easy Company, a New Hampshire-based unit. Dick Halloran parlayed his cooking skills for the rest of his life, where he partnered with other men in his unit into starting up The Black Spot, which was a nightclub that mainly catered to black soldiers. Later he would get a job at the Overlook Hotel, eventually becoming their head chef.
Dick was first introduced in The Shining, in which he worked as a cook at the Overlook Hotel. Like Danny Torrance, Dick possessed the gift called the Shining, and warned young Danny that the Overlook could be dangerous to those with the Shining. He later attempted to rescue the Torrance family after Jack Torrance became possessed by the hotel. Dick remained close to the remaining Torrances until well into Danny's teenage years.
In IT, Dick is mentioned as an Army cook and member of the African-American army nightclub in Derry, Maine called "The Black Spot", which was burned down by the Legion of White Decency (the Maine equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan) in 1930. Dick's Shining allowed him to save the lives of several other clubgoers, including Mike Hanlon's father. He is also notable for being one of the only sane adults able to see It in one of its varying forms.
Dick appears briefly in Tabitha King's novel Pearl, where he works with Pearl Dickinson as a chef at a restaurant in Key West. Pearl remembers Dick as an incredible cook who enjoyed stepping out with a number of good-looking women.
In Doctor Sleep, Dick is given his most substantial backstory to date. Dick is called by Wendy Torrance at the beginning of the novel to come and comfort her son, Danny, some months after their shared encounter at the Overlook Hotel at the end of The Shining. Danny awakens in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and encounters Mrs. Massey (the woman from Room 217) at the Overlook, rotted and bloated sitting on his toilet. After a warning from Danny and seeing evidence of Mrs. Massey in the bathroom, Wendy calls Dick to assist. When he arrives, he tells Danny about his childhood.
Dick tells Danny of his paternal grandmother, Rose Hallorann, who shares Dick's Shine, and her brother, Andy. Dick refers to them as "White Grandma" and "Black Grandpa" respectively (due to the color of their souls, not their skin color.) Black Grandpa would routinely mentally, physically and sexually abuse Dick. These abuses were kept secret and suspicions were allayed, because Black Grandpa had threatened Dick with a fairy-tale child-snatcher, Charlie Manx, so Dick never told his parents or White Grandma, and Black Grandpa had promised his fortune as a coffin-maker to Dick's family. However, after he dies, Black Grandpa leaves his fortune to a black orphanage in Alabama instead. Dick then has several Shining encounters with his Black Grandpa's naked and sexualized spirit, which beckons Dick to fornicate with him.
Dick to tell his White Grandma about these apparitions, she having already discovered Black Grandpa's abuses after his death. She teaches him how to "lock" bad shines like Black Grandpa into a mental lockbox. Dick passes this knowledge down to Danny in the form of a physical lockbox, to help him conceptualize locking away Mrs. Massey. Danny later does so to both her, and to Horace M. Derwent, another Overlook spirit, after an encounter with him.
Decades after this meeting, Danny (now Dan) Torrance once again seeks the help of Hallorann in protecting Abra Stone from the clutches of the True Knot cult — only to discover that Dick died on January 19, 1999. Nevertheless, Hallorann managed to speak to Dan one last time from beyond the grave by briefly possessing the body of the late Eleanor Ouellette. Dan also later uses his "mental lockbox" technique that he learned from Dick as a child, to unlock his box and unleash all of the Overlook spirits he locked away on the True Knot at the burned site of the former Overlook at the end of the novel, killing Silent Sarey with the spirit of Derwent.
- Scatman Crothers portrayed Dick in the 1980 movie adaptation.
- Melvin van Peebles portrayed Dick in 1997 television adaptation.
- Arthur Woodley portrayed Dick in 2016 operatic adaptation.
- Carl Lumbly will portray Dick in Doctor Sleep film adaptation