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Rick Dalton is one of the main protagonists in Quentin Tarantino's 9th film, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. He was the lead actor in the Bounty Law series but never found success after that and got acting jobs as heavies in tv pilots. Rick was also the best friend of Cliff Booth (who also is his stunt double).

He was portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio, who also played Calvin Candie in Django Unchained.

Biography

Rick Dalton was born on April 22, 1936 in Hollywood. He was an American television and film actor who has been active since the 1950s. He had gained notoriety working as the star of the western TV series Bounty Law. In February 1969, casting agent Marvin Schwarz warned him about always playing the heavy in TV shows and encouraged him to pursue a career in film. Rick began suffering from severe anxiety even as he began shooting the pilot episode of a new series called Lancer.

Rick's stunt performer and best friend was Cliff Booth, who served as both a shoulder to lean on, as well as his chauffeur. After seeing Rick through the tough times, he knew their partnership would soon be coming to an end as Rick was cast to play a lead in an Italian western film being filmed in Italy.

Rick and Cliff decided to go out for one last night on the town and drank heavily. When they returned to Rick's house on Ciello drive, Rick went into the swimming pool, leaving Cliff inside.

Several members of cult leader Charles Manson's "Family" staged a home invasion on Cielo Drive, with the intent of murdering the residents of the residence owned by famous film director Roman Polanski, which included his actress wife, Sharon Tate, and her house guests.

The cult members actually broke into Rick's home. Cliff had encountered these would-be killers earlier, but despite his severe intoxication, he succeeded in defending himself against them, and managed to kill one of them, while also siccing his dog onto another. Cult member Susan "Sadie" Atkins, managed to get away from the dog and went out back towards the pool. Rick, startled by her sudden appearance, leaped to defend himself. Using a flamethrower, which was actually a prop from one of his earlier films, he burned Susan Atkins to death.

After everything settled down, Rick met his neighbors at the Polanski/Tate residence and was invited to join them inside for drinks.

Trivia

  • Rick Dalton 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. The character 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.

References

  1. Quentin Tarantino said that Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth are two years apart in age, with Cliff being older. He later described Cliff as a “muscular, handsome, nearly 35-year-old man with a thick head of blonde hair”. We also know Rick’s birthday is April 22, placing his birth on April 22, 1936.
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