Rick Dalton, the actor best known for the 1960s television series Bounty Law and a string of Westerns shot in Italy, has died, according to the Hollywood podcast Video Archives. The performer, whose notoriety saw a boost after an encounter with his neighbor Roman Polanski and a bizarre home invasion led by deranged followers of a failed Ohio-born singer-songwriter, was survived by his wife Francesca. He was 90 years old.
Okay, okay, we’ll quit it now. Rick Dalton was not a real person, but the name of the character Leonardo DiCaprio played in the Oscar-nominated 2019 film Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood. But that doesn’t mean the man who created the story of an aspiring actor (and his stunt double best pal) caught up in the late 60s California lore, Quentin Tarantinoisn’t allowed to have a bit of fun.
The Twitter account for Video Archives, the podcast Tarantino created last year with PulpFiction co-writer Roger Avary (named for the Manhattan Beach tape rental shop where they once both worked), decided to kill off Dalton when making a programming note. Rather than just tell fans that their next episode (one about Norman Jewison’s 1975 sci-fi/roller derby exploitation film Rollerball, starring James Caan—as if there could there be a more quintessential selection?!?) was delayed, they decided to blame it on this deadpan announcement. The account teased a forthcoming tribute episode to Dalton’s best work.
Coincidentally, the gag came less than 24 hours before the Cannes Film Festival debut of DiCaprio’s next picture, Killers of the Flower Moondirected by Martin Scorsese and co-starring Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone.
As a New Yorker who just visited the Tarantino-owned New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles for the first time, I was tickled to see framed one sheet for Rick Dalton’s movies (ie props from Once Upon a Time …) mixed in with promotional ones for repertory titles in rotation like Aliens, sorcerers, and Jackie Chan’s Strikeforce. The two I caught were for Comanche Uprisinga fake movie co-starring real actors Robert Taylor, Charles Bronson, and Joan Evansand Nebraska Jim, a Western credited to real director Sergio Corbucci in which Dalton co-starred with Daphna Ben-Cobo, with whom Dalton had a whirlwind affair. (This part was played by Tarantino’s wife, Daniella Pick.)
No word at all from the Video Archives group about Dalton’s forever BFF, Cliff Booth, the part that won Brad Pitt the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Tarantino, henceforth, is prepping his next and perhaps final film, The Movie Critic. Although no cast or studio deal is set up yet, it is believed that it will start production this fall. Details on the project are hush-hush, but he has denied early rumors that it is a biopic about Pauline Kael. At Cannes this week, Paul Schrader spilled a few beans, suggesting that the film might include reshot versions of New Hollywood classics. (Once Upon a Time … did this with The Great Escape.) Apparently, Tarantino is hoping to tweak the ending of the 1977 film Rolling Thunderwhich Schrader co-wrote.