Stephen Edward "Steve" Tanner was an American GI who had a relationship with Elsie Tanner when he was stationed in Burtonwood during World War II. They met up again in 1967, got married and emigrated to the USA, but the marriage fell apart when Elsie couldn't adjust to her new lifestyle and Steve didn't support her. When Elsie returned to Weatherfield, Steve went to see her to try to reconcile the marriage but was murdered by fellow serviceman Joe Donelli over gambling debts.
Steve Tanner, son of Emmeline Tanner, was born on 30th October 1924 and grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He joined the US Army and during the latter stages of World War II he was stationed in Burtonwood, UK. With their movie star accents, Steve and the GIs caused a stir among the local women, including Elsie Tanner, a single mother from Weatherfield, who met Steve at the Roebuck Inn. Steve and Elsie had a whirlwind romance which lasted until the end of the war, when Steve's tour of duty at Burtonwood ended.
In the intervening years, Steve married a woman named Le Lan but she was killed in the Vietnam war when her village was bombed by mistake. By 1967, Steve had risen to the rank of Master Sergeant in the Army. In May of that year, he was once again posted to Burtonwood, serving under Major Ryan, and decided to look Elsie up. Elsie was nervous about meeting him again and worried that she would be a disappointment to him but Steve was impressed with her and was keen to see more of her. They enjoyed reminiscing about old times and Steve soon told Elsie he loved her.
Elsie and Steve's relationship caused friction between Elsie and bookie Dave Smith, who had been dumped by Elsie upon Steve's return. When Steve was assaulted outside Dave's Betting Shop, Dave was the prime suspect but it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity, with Walter Greenhalgh believing Steve to be fellow GI Gregg Flint, who had been having an affair with Walt's wife Dot.
His relationship with Elsie flourishing, Steve proposed to her at Roebuck Inn. She accepted, but refused when he gave her diamond engagement ring as she was worried she wouldn't fit in with Steve's family and friends in Boston. She changed her mind when Steve reassured her, and after being granted permission to marry by Major Ryan, they set the date for 4th September and booked St. Stephen's Church in Warrington, with a honeymoon in Lisbon. The wedding went perfectly, although it was marred by the death of neighbour and guest Harry Hewitt, who was crushed under Len Fairclough's van on the same day as the wedding.
After the honeymoon, the Tanners rented a flat in Burtonwood and moved there until their planned move to Boston. Steve's mother Emmeline, who hadn't attended the wedding, came over soon after to meet Elsie, but Emmeline believed Elsie had an inferiority complex and wasn't good enough for Steve. Steve was caught in the middle in a dispute between Elsie and Emmeline and decided to back his mother, telling Elsie that she should make more on an effort to fit in. He thought clinging onto her life in Coronation Street was harming Elsie and tried to encourage her by asking for a transfer to Germany and cancelling Elsie's job application for her old position at Miami Modes. The incident caused them to fall out and Elsie deciding to go to stay with her daughter Linda for a while, lying that she was ill to give her an excuse to go. Steve knew it was a lie but let her go anyway.
At the end of the year, Steve was posted back to America. Elsie invited her family to the Street for Christmas, and the Tanners left for the USA before the New Year.
While Steve was delighted to be home, Elsie soon felt estranged from all that she found familiar and Steve provided little comfort or reassurance. When they found that their memories of the past didn't provide a solid foundation for a marriage, Steve told Elsie he regretted marrying her, and volunteered for a posting in Panama, leaving Elsie in the USA surrounded by strangers. Elsie returned home to her old house and life in Weatherfield, separating from Steve. When Steve returned from Panama, he contacted Elsie to ask her where he stood with her, and travelled to the UK to talk to her in person. While he waited for an answer from Elsie, Steve was confronted by Len Fairclough, who tried to hit him for how he had treated Elsie but hit the wall instead. Fellow GI Joe Donelli then confronted Steve over money Joe owed Steve, and in the ensuing argument Joe pushed Steve down the stairs, to his death, at his digs in Claydon Court.
In the police investigation that followed, Elsie and Len were the prime suspects for Steve's murder, as Joe was given an alibi by Gary Strauss. The jury returned an open verdict, and Joe was not discovered as the killer until 1970, when he confessed to Irma Barlow and shot himself.
- Steve's hobbies included poker.
- Steve helped the neighbours and police move the rubble when a train crashed through the viaduct in Coronation Street in May 1967.
- Steve Tanner is the first character to be murdered on Coronation Street.
- Steve was played by Canadian actor Paul Maxwell.
- Because Elsie Tanner was very popular with viewers, the writers decided to give Steve the surname Tanner, to avoid Elsie getting her name changed.
- Despite returning again to Weatherfield in 1968 and being involved in a major storyline involving his murder, Steve wasn't actually seen on screen at all during 1968; his final appearance was in Episode 734 on 27th December 1967, when Steve and Elsie left for the USA.
First and last linesEdit
"Feels like I've come home, or does that sound too sentimental?"