Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood takes place in 1969 and it is filled with meticulously researched and re-created period detail. Leonardo DiCaprio plays television star Rick Dalton, whose western series was once a big hit but whose career has faded. How bad is it for Rick? He’s relegated to doing guest shots on other shows. One indication of his former success is the magazine covers he appeared on, including that ultimate accolade, the MAD Magazine parody.
To create a believable MAD cover from the ’60s, Tarantino’s team approached one of MAD’s top current caricaturists, Tom Richmond. In an interview with The Credits, Richmond explains how he was brought in, which classic MAD artist he used for inspiration, and which TV star responded to his MAD caricature with something less than enthusiasm.
How were you first approached about creating a MAD cover for the movie?
I received an email from Chris Call of Call Props, who was the prop master for Quentin Tarantino’s production company Magnum Opus for the film. They were looking for an illustrator to create an early 1960’s era TV Guide cover depicting Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Rick Dalton as his TV alter ego “Jake Cahill.” After finding out I was a current artist for MAD Magazine, the director thought a faux MAD cover from the same era would be another nice addition to Rick’s TV Star memorabilia. So we did both a MAD cover and a TV Guide cover, and both appeared in the film.