After a long wait, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has finally landed in theaters. Set in 1969 Los Angeles, the primary story features the fictional Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). His career in decline, Dicaprio’s Dalton is thrilled to learn that two of the hottest new stars in Hollywood Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate have moved in next door to him. With the infamous Manson Family murders lurking over the story, Once Upon a Time traverses old school Hollywood on the eve of one of its darkest crimes. This serves as the backdrop for Once Upon a Time, which weaves in fictional characters and real life Hollywood stars into a revisionist history that only Tarantino could pull off—complete with subtle homages to classic cinema, characters, and celebrities. Below, we have a guide to all the characters who appear in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and their real-life counterparts.
“Shit has its own integrity.” The Wise Hack at the Writers’ Table in the MGM commissary used regularly to affirm this axiom for the benefit of us alien integers from the world of Quality Lit. It was plain to him (if not to the front office) that since we had come to Hollywood only to make money, our pictures would entirely lack the one basic homely ingredient that spells boffo world-wide grosses. The Wise Hack was not far wrong. He knew that the sort of exuberant badness which so often achieves perfect popularity cannot be faked even though, as he was quick to admit, no one ever lost a penny underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
THE TOP TEN BEST-SELLERS ACCORDING TO THE SUNDAY NEW YORK TIMES AS OF JANUARY 7 1973, The Selected Essays of Gore Vidal
“In 1913 Cecil B. DeMille was looking for a place to shoot a western, The Squaw Man. He was living in New York City, so he boarded a train heading west and got off at Flagstaff, Arizona. Surprisingly, the weather was bad there. He sent a telegram to his partners back east, Jessy Lasky and Sam Goldfish (later Goldwyn): “Flagstaff no good. Want authority to rent barn for $75 a month in place called Hollywood.” The yellow barn was at Selma and Vine streets and was still being used for horses. The Squaw Man was released a year later, and is one of the first full-length films made in Hollywood. It was certainly the most successful. In 1926 the barn was moved to the United Studios on Marathon and Van Ness Streets, which soon became the home of Paramount Pictures.
If the weather in Flagstaff hadn’t been bad, if the barn in Hollywood hadn’t been for rent, if The Squaw Man had not been a hit, there wouldn’t have been a Hollywood. In later years the old weather-beaten barn in which The Squaw Man was photographed was converted into a gymnasium on the Paramount lot, equipped with weights, mats, rings, chin-up bars, and, most important: the best steam room in Los Angeles. From the time of its reincarnation as the Paramount gym, the man who ran it was a short, bald, good-natured fellow named Orlando Perry, or Perry Orlando – not even he was sure of which was correct. I got to know Perry and his gym when I was directing Good Times on the Paramount lot. I remained a regular for sixteen years, until the old barn was designated a landmark, moved off the lot, and relocated opposite the Hollywood Bowl, where it is now the Hollywood Heritage Museum.”
Friedkin, William. The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir.