Rick Dalton, the fictitious character in Bounty Law and The Fourteen Fists of McCluskey, died at the age of 90. Dalton died quietly in his Hawaii home. Quentin Tarantino confirmed his death on the Twitter account for his Video Archives Podcast, which he co-hosts with director-producer Roger Avary. Dalton originally featured in 2019’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which chronicled a turbulent era in the actor’s life in the late 1960s, including a guest appearance on the western series Lancer and his disastrous meeting with a home-invading group of hippies. Tarantino has subsequently written more on Dalton’s career, including the novelization of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which was published in 2021. A sequel, The Films of Rick Dalton, is in the works. Tarantino and Avary will also dedicate a special edition of their podcast to Dalton next week.
Rick Dalton: Who Was He?
Dalton, who was born in 1933, had a TV success with the TV western Bounty Law, where he portrayed gun-slinging bounty hunter Jake Cahill from 1959 to 1963. Dalton also tried his hand at acting, especially in westerns such as Hellfire, Texas, and Tanner, but he also had a remarkable supporting part in the classic WWII actioner The Fourteen Fists of McCluskey. The Great Escape was the great squandered chance of his career; Dalton was thought to be on the short list of performers supposed to portray Virgil Hilts, a part that finally went to fellow TV western star Steve McQueen.
However, Dalton’s career suffered following the conclusion of Bounty Law; unable to obtain main parts, he was confined to guest appearances on a variety of TV programmes of the time, including Tarzan, The FBI, and Lancer. Dalton proceeded to Europe on the recommendation of producer Marvin Schwarz, where he featured in a series of hit films, including the spaghetti westerns Kill Me Quick, Ringo, Said the Gringo, and Nebraska Jim, as well as the criminal caper comedy Operazione Dyn-O-Mite! Dalton also met and married Italian actress Francesca Capucci in Europe. Dalton returned to America after his European trip, ending in one of the oddest episodes in Hollywood history. A trio of Charles Manson cultists broke into Dalton’s Hollywood house and were slain by Dalton’s lifelong friend and comrade, stuntman Cliff Booth, Booth’s dog Brandy, and Dalton himself, carrying the flamethrower from The Fourteen Fists of McCluskey.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, starring DiCaprio as Dalton, Brad Pitt as Booth, and Margot Robbie as Dalton’s neighbour, actress Sharon Tate, was a critical and box office success, grossing over $370 million and garnering ten Academy Award nominations; Pitt won Best Supporting Actor for Booth, and DiCaprio was nominated for Best Actor. However, its portrayal of Booth’s reported battle with Bruce Lee, who was starring in The Green Hornet at the time, sparked debate.