From The Quentin Tarantino Archives
Rick Dalton (a character in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is an actor who starred in the fictional Western television series Bounty Law from 1958 to 1963. His attempt to transition into movies did not work out and in 1969, he is struggling to get a breakout film role still guest starring on TV shows while contemplating moving to Italy – which has become a hotspot for Spaghetti Westerns. He is neighbors with Sharon Tate in the Tarantino Universe. His long-time friend and stunt-double is Cliff Booth.
The character was partly inspired by Burt Reynolds as well as actors like Ty Hardin, William Shatner, Edd Byrnes, George Maharis, Tab Hunter, Vince Edwards, and Fabian Forte. Dalton is also partially inspired by Pete Duel, a western TV actor (star of Alias Smith & Jones) who died by suicide. Even though it is not mentioned in the film, Dalton suffers from undiagnosed bipolar disorder.
"Rick is a man full of inner turmoil and self-pity for not being in a better position, career-wise. But as is Rick’s way, he blames everybody but himself" - QT speaking to USA Today.
Rick Dalton is the epitome of cool. He began his career with scene-stealing guest appearances on Tombstone Territory (1957) and Lux Video Theatre (1957) that caught the eye of NBC execs who were looking for counterprogramming to combat CBS’ popular hits Trackdown (1957) and Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958). This led to Dalton’s starring role as young, sexy bounty hunter Jake Cahill on Bounty Law (1958) which lasted four seasons and 48 episodes.
After Bounty Law, Dalton made the move into films, starring in the made-for-TV film Tanner (1965), as well as the cult classic The Fourteen Fists of McCluskey (1966). He then went on to sign a four picture deal with Universal, that ended after a widely scrutinized performance in Salty, The Talking Sea Otter (1967). While riding the wave of a breaking studio system he has maintained a friendship and working relationship with his Bounty Law stunt double Cliff Booth for his entire film and television career. Recently, he found success in the Italian Spaghetti Western genre, utilizing his slick style to become one of the most dynamic action stars working today. Rick’s work continues to inspire, and his upcoming projects promise to be as exciting as the classics we all know and love.
- Operazione Dyn-O-Mite!: Jason
- Hell Boats: Lt. Comdr. Jeffords, R.N.V.R
- Red Blood, Red Skin: Romeo Douglas
- Nebraska Jim: Nebraska Jim
- Kill Me Quick, Ringo Said the Gringo (Uccidimi Subito Ringo, disse il Gringo): Ringo
- Lancer (TV Series) - Pilot: Caleb DeCoteau
- The F.B.I (TV Series) - All the Streets Are Silent: Michael Murtaugh
- Land of the Giants (TV Series) - Capture: Dr. David Hellstrom
- Bingo Martin (TV Series) - Heck to Pay: Rocky Ryan
- The Green Hornet (TV Series) - The Hornet Hunter: Thompson Shaw
- Tarzan (TV Series) - Jewel of the Jungle: Brick Bedford
- Salty, The Talking Sea Otter: Jeb Marvin
- Jigsaw Jane: Todd Gilcrest
- The 14 Fists of McCluskey: Sgt. Mike Lewis
- Tanner (TV Movie): Joe Tanner
- Hellfire, Texas: Maj. Travis Jackson
- Big Game: Randy Wilson
- Comanche Uprising: Lt. Warwick Winston
- Bounty Law (TV Series/48 Episodes) as Jake Cahill - Incident in Inez/Incident in Beaver Falls/Incident at Henry Minks Homested/Incident on a stage bound for Tuscon/Incident in Janicetown/Incident in Perrytown Pt.1/Incident in Perrytown Pt.2
- The Restless Gun (TV Series) - Bounty Killer: Jake Cahill (first appearance which led to Bounty Law spinoff series)
- Battle Of The Coral Sea: Reoman Halliday
- Riverboat (TV Series) - No Love Lost: Will Henry
- Bachelor Father (TV Series) - Girls Will Be Girls: Kelly’s Boyfriend
- Young And Wild: Richard Edward “Rick” Braden
- Tales Of Wells Fargo (TV Series) - The Hole in the Wall Gang: Butch Cassidy
- Drag Race, No Stop: Race Wheeler
- Man With A Camera (TV Series) - Second Avenue Assassin: Joey Savoyen
- Darby’s Rangers: Sgt. / SSgt. / Sfc. Hank Bishop
- Lux Video Theatre (TV Series) - Death at Northfield: Jessie James
- M Squad (TV Series) - So Long Miss Mulligan: Buzz
- Tombstone Territory (TV Series) - Wyatt Earp Tells No Tales: The Salt Flat Kid
- A Strange Adventure: Harold Norton
- Jubal: Woody
- Away All Boats: Private Pickford (uncredited)
- These Wilder Years: Football Player (uncredited)
- (1965) Hullabaloo: Rick Dalton appeared on the show to promote his film “Tanner”. He was featured alongside famous British Invasion band The Kinks.
- (1967) TV Commercial: Red Apple Cigarettes “Take a bite and feel alright” campaign. NOTE: Introduced Red Apple’s “Low Tar” tan pack, the company’s first foray into filtered cigarettes.
- (1968) TV Commercial: Big Kahuna Burger NOTE: The catchphrase “Pineapple? On my burger?” was originally ad-libbed by Dalton backstage before the director chose to write it into the spot. The phrase went on to appear in five more commercials over the next two years.
- (1969) TV Commercial: Old Chattanooga Beer NOTE: Archival footage of Rick’s role in “Bounty Law” was used in the commercial to appeal to the beer brand’s cowboy aesthetic. Rick was reportedly not happy with this choice, fearing that it typecast him as a TV star.
- A lot of actors say that the villain is the best part, but I have always been happy with playing the hero.
- Rick fuckin’ Dalton.
- On stunt doubles: Actors are required to do a lot of dangerous stuff. Cliff here is meant to help carry the load.
- Buying Hollywood real estate is one of the best decisions you can make as an actor.
- Working in this town is all about being on the list. You’re either on it or you’re not.
- Remained friends with his Bounty Law stunt double Cliff Booth after the show ended in 1962. Rick remained loyal to his friend and colleague even during some controversial legal trouble in the late 60s. Booth continued to work as Dalton’s double throughout his career.
- Was on the shortlist of actors to appear in the 1963 film The Great Escape. The part ended up going to Steve McQueen, who was often compared to Rick due to their competing series’ Bounty Law and Wanted: Dead or Alive.
- He signed a four picture deal with Universal.
- Director of Tanner Paul Winsor and Will Witney gave him early roles and then went on to cast him on Tanner.
- Often plays the strong, sexy, mysterious cowboy type
- Known for his tough guy squint
- Smokes unfiltered Red Apple cigarettes
- Western, Action, and War Films
- Quickdraw gunfights and showdowns.
- At one point held the record for most television guest appearances in one calendar year.
- Old Chattanooga is his beer of choice
- Whisky sours are his signature cocktail, often drank from a beer stein.
- Frequent caller to Robert W. Morgan’s “Boss Radio” on 93 KHJ