Hollywood History: What Viewers May Have Missed in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’

Quentin Tarantino has created another big budget masterpiece with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. However, many viewers most likely aren’t enjoying the movie to its fullest because they don’t understand much of the back story. In fact, unless you were born before 1971 you probably spent much of the film scratching your head in wonder.  Here is the real history of the back stories in Tarantino’s film.

Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an actor in a western television series. During the 1950s and 60’s westerns were popular and hit television shows included “The Lone Ranger, “Maverick” and “Gunsmoke.”  When his show is cancelled Dalton finds work as a guest star on other hit shows such as the crime drama “FBI”. Afraid that his career is washed up, Dalton agrees to make spaghetti westerns.

Spaghetti Westerns were films made about the wild west of the U.S. but were filmed on location in Italy by Italian directors and producers.  Although mostly low budget, many iconic actors got their start in the spaghetti western including Clint Eastwood.

Musso and Frank’s Grill is the oldest restaurant in Hollywood.  It was opened in the 1920’s and is still in operation today. The restaurant is known more for the Hollywood wheeling and dealing done there and less for its’ famous steaks and martinis.

Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) was Rick Dalton’s stunt double.  Booth’s career dried up with Dalton’s. Having too much spare time on his hands gets him in trouble.  He gets kicked off a movie set for beating up Bruce Lee. (Lee was an actor and martial arts expert. He is the innovator behind today’s modern martial arts movies.)

Booth meets up with Squeaky (Dakota Johnson) who takes him to meet the Manson Family.  Charles Manson (Danny Herriman) and his followers (known as the Manson family) lived on an old movie set known as Spahn Ranch.   The ranch was located on 55 acres of property and still gets visits from people obsessed with Manson and his family.

Charles Manson was a hippy philosopher who claimed to be the second coming of Christ.  He used LSD and free sex to control his followers. He was convinced that he was to start a race war that would lead to Armageddon. To do so, he sent his followers to kill Sharon Tate, her unborn child and her friends and make it look like it was done by African Americans.

Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) was an American model with a budding acting career. She was married to Roman Polanski and expecting their first child together.

Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha) is a director, producer and writer best known for his films “Rosemary’s Baby and The Ninth Gate.

In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Dalton and Booth kill the Manson members and thus stop them from killing Tate and her friends.  In reality, the   Manson Family succeeded at killing Tate, her unborn baby and three of her friends. Polanski was out of the country at the time of the murders.