If Rick Dalton ever became a household name, it was during the run of the NBC western television series “Bounty Law,” in which he played bounty hunter Jake Cahill from 1959 to 1963. A rival show to “Wanted Dead or Alive” on CBS. (starring future movie icon Steve McQueen), “Bounty Law” saw Dalton not only demonstrate his own considerable skills, but also share the screen with several notable guest stars ranging from Charles Bronson to Darren McGavin.
Dalton tried to turn the success of the show into a movie career, but the loss of a role in John Sturges’ “The Great Escape” (a role that, in a bitterly ironic turn of events, fell to McQueen) took a toll on the actor personally and professionally. He still managed to do good work in supporting roles in movies like 1965’s “Tanner” (a western epic), 1967’s “Jigsaw Jane” (a proto-giallo featuring Dalton as the killer), and the more famous, the gritty World War II adventure, from 1966. “The 14 Fists of McClusky.”
Dalton kept the lights on in the late ’60s by traveling to Italy and making a series of very enjoyable European genre movies like “Nebraska Jim” and “Operazione Dyn-O-Mite.” (both from 1970). As Tarantino mentions in the last episode of his podcast, Dalton got into a wild, real-life altercation in Hollywood around this time:
“Something also happened with him in the late ’60s, where three hippies broke into his house, they were tripping, they had a gun with them and his stunt double basically bashed the brains out of two of them.” , and Rick set the other one on fire with McClusky’s 14 Fists flamethrower.”
This incident, though ultimately minor, is still fondly remembered by Los Angeles true crime buffs and historians to this day.
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