The sharon tate murders

Infamous cult leader Charles Manson spent much of his life in prison after he was sentenced in 1971. Manson died in 2017 behind bars, and despite the less-than-usual journey of his twisted life, his cause of death was rather routine.

Manson was 37 when he went to jail, and he was supposed to die much sooner than he did: The villain had been sentenced to death. At the time, the death penalty was legal in California, where Manson was convicted. In 1972, however, the death penalty was abolished, which led to Manson and other members of his family being removed from death row. Instead, Manson was given chances at parole throughout his life, all of which were denied.

Manson died at 83, of a heart attack. At the time of his death, he’d been denied parole 12 times, according to CNN. Along with the heart attack that ultimately killed him, Manson had been diagnosed with colon cancer. It was considered a cause of death, according to Manson’s death certificate, obtained by TMZ in December 2017.

Charles Manson, photographed in 1970. The infamous cult leader spent much of his life in prison after he was sentenced in 1971. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Manson went to prison for a series of brutal murders he had led his “family members,” or cult followers, to commit, including the murder of actress Sharon Tate. Manson did not physically participate in the murders. Instead, he seemingly controlled his “family” in nearly hypnotic ways. In return, they killed for him.

One of Manson’s followers killed Tate, stabbing her 16 times; four others in Tate’s home were also murdered. The actress was eight-and-a-half-months pregnant with her son with film director Roman Polanski at the time of her death. The killers wrote phrases like “PIG” and “Healter Skelter”—the writer seemingly meant to write Helter Skelter, in reference to the Beatles’ song, but spelled it wrong—on the walls and door in victim’s blood.

These murders were followed by others the next night, when the Manson “family” killed Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in their home.

The killing of Tate and friends is the subject of film The Haunting of Sharon Tate, out Friday, starring Hilary Duff. The film seems to focus on the family’s presence in Tate’s life, before and during the killing, and the attempts by Tate to survive the brutal night in which she died.

Before his death, Manson allegedly expressed a “love for all” in a phone call with a Manson friend, Ben Gurecki, who shared the message with The Sun. In the conversation, Manson also spoke of the murdered saying, “Gone in the sky the dead but never die.”

Much like Ted Bundy before him (ugh), Charles Manson is having a pop-culture moment thanks to the release of Quentin Tarantino’s new movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (and the upcoming season of HBO’s Mindhunter!). Manson is best known for leading a cult of murderous hippies and orchestrating the murder of Hollywood actress Sharon Tate in the late ’60s. In short: He was not a good guy—and that’s obviously an understatement. Like so many creepy men before him, Manson relied on his “good looks” and charisma to manipulate people—especially women—into obeying his every command.

Chances are, you have some, er, questions about what happened to this awful dude after he was arrested, so let’s get ’em answered. And keep in mind: Everything about Charles Manson is extremely disturbing, so watch out!

Is, um, Charles Manson still alive?

Short answer: Nope. Manson was sentenced to death in 1971, but in 1972, California abolished the death penalty, thereby commuting Manson’s sentence to life in prison. Years later, on November 19, 2017, he died in a hospital at the age of 83…and the circumstances were kinda strange.

Getty Images

His illness and death were shrouded in mystery.

Before his death, the California prison where Manson was held was being super cagey about his health. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time, state prison officials declined to comment on his condition, simply saying he had a “serious” illness.

In early January 2016, TMZ revealed that Manson had been hospitalized for intestinal bleeding but was “too risky” for surgery:


Then nearly a year later, in November, the public learned that Manson was back in the hospital. He died of “natural causes” a few days later, and TMZ reported that Sharon’s sister Debra Tate received a personal call from the prison telling her about his passing.

Apparently, Manson’s health was shrouded in secrecy because of super-intense security measures. He had to be under 24-hour security while at the hospital, and his exact location was kept super-super-suuuuuper secret. Manson had a history of acting out, which may have required increased security measures. The Los Angeles Times reported that he was cited for repeated possessions of a weapon as well as assault and threatening staff. Like, this guy “spat in guards’ faces, threw hot coffee at a prison staffer, started fights, tried to cause a flood, and set his mattress ablaze.”

Wow @ all of this but especially “tried to cause a flood.”

There was a bunch of drama about his will.

When Manson died, a full-blown battle erupted about his estate and remains. Which is…weird! Basically, two unverified wills showed up, one that left Manson’s remains to his self-proclaimed “son” Matthew Roberts and another that left his remains to his pen pal. On top of that, Manson’s grandson Jason Freeman came out of the woodwork and said he wanted Manson’s remains. Freeman ended up, um, “winning” control of Manson’s body and had him cremated.

Matthew Roberts in 2015. Getty Images

Who is Manson survived by?

Kinda-sorta-maybe three sons. Freeman is the child of Manson’s alleged son Charles Manson Jr., who changed his name to Jay White in order to avoid association with the murderer. White died by suicide in 1993, and Freeman formed a bond with his alleged grandfather over the phone, calling him a “kind, giving person.” According to Freeman, Manson “specifically said he did not kill Sharon Tate or anybody in that house. He would never hurt a human with a baby inside of them.”

Manson allegedly had two more sons, Charles Luther Manson and Valentine Michael Manson, both of whom aren’t in the public eye—for obvious reasons. And finally, there’s Roberts (that intense-looking dude in the picture above), who has claimed to be Manson’s son despite iffy DNA test results!

Welp, that concludes your Manson internet spiral—here’s a cute puppy to cleanse your brain:

Giphy Mehera Bonner Mehera Bonner is a news writer who focuses on celebrities and royals—follow her on Instagram.

Charles Manson’s final words show he was unrepentant until the end of his life

Charles Manson was serving life in prison for his part in seven brutal murders.

During the summer of 1969 he and his Family carried out a series of terrifying massacres.

They butchered Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant when she was killed, along with several of a friends and a teenager who was working in the home.

Charles Manson’s Family continued their murderous spree the following night when they burst into the home of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, and slaughtered the couple.

They were finally arrested in December that year for a series of car thefts.

Manson in prison in 2009 where he died aged 83

And one of the hippy cult members started bragging about her bloodthirsty crimes, the rest of the Family were brought in and charged.

Manson and his followers would never be free again.

But throughout his long years in prison, Manson never lost the belief that he was not to blame.

He never showed any remorse for his actions, which had tragically ended the lives of nine innocent people.

In chilling phone conversations, recorded shortly before he died aged 83, Manson reveals the extent of his own self-belief.

Manson was convicted of seven counts of murder (Image: Getty)

He declares: “I’m the most famous human being not only that is alive but the most famous human being that has ever lived.”

Manson even denies any involvement in the atrocities.

He says: “I never ordered nobody to do anything. They were always free to leave.”

Golden Globe winning actress Tate had invited a few friends round for dinner to her home on Cielo Drive, Los Angeles, on August 9, 1969.

It was an evening that ended with five dead bodies and a bloodbath.

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Tate, along with friends Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski and Abigal Folger, and Steven Parent, a pal of the house’s caretaker, were butchered by members of Charles Manson’s Family in a crime that shocked the world.

The Family barged into the home and Parent was shot and killed as The Family, minus Charles, burst into the home in Los Angeles.

He was just 18.

Wojciech was asleep on the sofa when The Family barged in and was kicked in the head by Tex Watson.

When Wojciech asked him what he was doing he chillingly replied “I am the devil and I’m here to do the devil’s business”.

Manson during his trial in 1970 – he was 36 (Image: Rex)

Watson then started to tie Sharon and Jay together with a rope round their necks and slung it over the beam in the living room.

Abigail was ordered into the bedroom to get her purse and handed $70 over to The Family.

She managed to flee out of a bedroom door but was followed by Patricia Krenwinkel, who caught her and stabbed her.

But worse was to come for Abigail who was eventually killed by Watson, who stabbed her 28 times.

Wojciech’s hands had been bound by a towel but he managed to free himself and started to struggle with Atkins.

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She kept stabbing at his legs but as he struggled out of the house, he was caught by Watson and hit over the head with a gun.

He was then stabbed multiple times, shot twice but still fought to escape the house.

Wojciech was eventually killed when he was stabbed 51 times.

Tate herself was stabbed many times in the chest and strangled.

As The Family launched their frenzied and horrying attack, one of the members who helped kill Tate ignored her desperate pleas for mercy.

Sharon tate with her husband Roman Polanski (Image: Getty Images)

The mum-to-be even begged to be taken as a hostage so she could be kept alive for long enough for her baby to be born.

But Susan Tate, who delivered some of the fatal blows, would not be moved.

As a petrified Tate called out “mother, mother”, Atkins responded in the cruellest way possible.

She told the actress: “Look, b****, I don’t care about you.

“I don’t care if you’re going to have a baby, You better be ready. You’re going to die.”

Manson and his followers carried out a two-night murder spree (Image: Getty Images)

Chillingly, while in prison, Atkins once told a cell mate that the first time she stabbed Tate “it felt so good”.

Tate’s mutilated and broken body was found with the cord used in the killing still around her neck.

Tragically, her baby – due to be born within weeks – did not survive the horrific injuries suffered by his mother.

It’s not clear if Watson or Atkins stabbed Tate and delivered the fatal blow.

Once the killers had butchered their victims, they used the bloody towel that had bound Wojciech’s hands to write the word ‘pig’ on the front door of Sharon’s home in blood.

Sharon Tate was eight-and-a-half months pregnant when she was killed (Image: Getty Images)

Just a day after the Tate murder, The Family struck again.

Supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, were killed at their home in LA.

Officers did not link the two crime scenes.

Then, in December 1969, members of the Manson Family were arrested for a series of car thefts.

While Susan Atkins was in custody she told her fellow prisoners of the other crimes she had been involved in – including the murders.

The rest of the gang were arrested a few days later and their trial began on June 15, 1970.

Charles Manson

Guilty verdicts were returned on 27 separate counts and all four were sentenced to death.

This was later changed to full life sentences.

Atkins died of a brain tumour in 2008, having had her application for parole refused 18 times.

Charles Manson died of a heart attack on November 19, 2017. He was 83.

  • Sharon Tate, an actress best known for 1967’s Valley of the Dolls, was almost nine months pregnant when she was killed by Charles Manson’s followers.
  • 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the infamous Manson murders.
  • Sharon’s fate was recently retold in Quentin Tarantino’s film Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. In the film, Tate is portrayed by Margot Robbie.

In August 1969, budding actress Sharon Tate should have been making headlines for her upcoming films, or perhaps the birth of her first child. Instead, everyone was shocked to hear that Charles Manson’s followers murdered her in her Los Angeles home. Her story has been retold in Hollywood films and TV series near-countless times, but it’s important to remember the true story of Sharon Tate.

Though widely known for her untimely death, here’s a look back at how she lived and what happened following her murder.

Who was Sharon Tate?

Sharon Tate was born in Dallas in 1943. As part of a military family, she moved around a lot, and she even attended high school in Italy. She went on to win beauty pageants and was even crowned Homecoming Queen. When she finally made it to Hollywood around the age of 20, she took on small roles in popular TV shows like The Beverly Hillbillies and Mister Ed.

In the mid ’60s, producer Martin Ransohoff introduced Tate to Polish actor and director Roman Polanski. They fell in love and got married in January 1968. By then, Tate was an up-and-coming 26-year-old movie actress, best known for her role as Jennifer North in 1967’s Valley of the Dolls.

Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski on their wedding day in January 1968. KeystoneGetty Images

In August 1969, the newlywed couple were set to welcome a baby in just a few weeks, as Tate was more than eight months pregnant. But while hanging out with friends in her Los Angeles mansion one night, she died during what is now referred to as the Manson murders. The day after her murder, The New York Times described her as, “one of Hollywood’s most promising young starlets, even though her television and film appearances were not primarily in leading roles.”

How and where did Sharon Tate die?

Her now-infamous home was located at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon. The only connection that links Charles Manson, his cult, and the home is Charles’ relationship with music producer Terry Melcher, who lived there with his then-girlfriend, actress Candice Bergen, before Tate and Polanski bought the home.

Manson reportedly knew Melcher — who had rejected his auditions for a music career — was no longer living there, and there was no clear motive. In the early morning hours of August 9, 1969, Manson “family members” Charles “Tex” Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Linda Kasabian (who went on to act as the state’s key witness against her fellow cult followers) drove to the home and found Tate and her friends: celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, Folgers coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and her boyfriend Voytek Frykowski.

Sebring and Tate in 1966. Michael Ochs ArchivesGetty Images

Steven Parent, a teenager who was friends with the house’s caretaker, was also killed while driving away from Tate and Polanski’s home.

The front page of New York Daily News on August 10, 1969. New York Daily NewsGetty Images

The following day, the group — allegedly joined by Manson Leslie Van Houten — also murdered Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles.

What happened to the killers?

Charles Manson leaving court in December 1969. BettmannGetty Images

Manson was sentenced to life in prison without parole, and died at the age of 83 in 2017. He allegedly did not kill anyone in the Cielo Drive murder spree, but he was indicted and convicted for the Tate-LaBianca murders (and later, two more murders). He reportedly believed that The Beatles’ song “Helter Skelter” alluded to a race war, and that’s why he ordered those Family members to go to Cielo Drive. Manson, Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten were sentenced to death, but that changed to life imprisonment when the death penalty was abolished in California in 1972.

From left: Leslie Van Houten, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel walking to the courtroom during the 1970 trial. BettmannGetty Images

Watson was convicted of seven counts of first degree murder and remains in prison. Atkins, who testified (and later denied) that she had stabbed and killed Tate, had terminal brain cancer and died in prison in 2009. Krenwinkel and Van Houten, who was 19 when she participated in the murders of the LaBiancas, are also still in prison.

Why are people questioning if Sharon Tate is still alive?

In the newly released Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Margot Robbie portrays Sharon Tate, so she’s been popping up in the news a lot lately. The film showed how a washed-up actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) cross paths with the plotting Manson family members. You’ll have to see how Tarantino rewrote history, but take note that the real story had a different ending.

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WARNING: Graphic content

“A Hollywood actress, an internationally known male hairdresser and an heiress to a coffee fortune were found slain along with two other men Saturday in what one policeman described as a twisted ‘ritualistic’ killing.”

This was the Associated Press news report about what would become known as the Tate murders: a gruesome series of slayings 50 years ago that closed the book on the utopian idealism of the 1960s, ushering in a dark new reality like a bad acid trip.

“Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the ’60s ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive travelled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true,” Joan Didion later wrote of the killings.


“The tension broke that day. The paranoia was fulfilled.”

Sharon Tate, the aforementioned “Hollywood actress” was 26 years old and eight-and-a-half months pregnant at the time of her death and the most famous of the five murdered that night.

She and her husband, filmmaker Roman Polanski, were renting the house on Cielo Drive where the killings took place. Polanski was absent that fateful evening, working on a film in Europe.

Tate was set to become one of the leading sirens of the era, with a Bridget Bardot meets Malibu Barbie look. In fact, her character from 1967’s cheesy beach sex romp Don’t Make Waves was named Malibu, wore a tan bikini, and was said to have inspired the creation of Malibu Barbie, which debuted in 1971.

Charles Manson was behind the horrific slayings. Photo / News Corp Australia

She starred in cult classics such as Eye Of The Devil, The Wrecking Crew, and Valley Of The Dolls, the latter of which earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

She met Polanski in London when he was casting for his 1967 flick Fearless Vampire Killers. Polanski wasn’t taken with her at all, only agreeing to cast her if she wore a red wig in the film. His initial instincts were way off. With three films set to come out in 1967, Playboy declared: “This is the year that Sharon Tate happens.”

In an interview just a week before she was brutally slaughtered, she was asked if she believed in fate. “Certainly,” she replied. “My whole life has been decided by fate. I think something more powerful than we are decides our fates for us.

“I know one thing — I’ve never planned anything that ever happened to me.”



Late in the night of August 8, 1969, Charles Manson’s right-hand man Tex Watson and three of his “Family” — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian — headed towards 10050 Cielo Drive, the house that Tate had occupied since February.

She was hosting a small dinner party with guests Jay Sebring, a Hollywood hairstylist who once dated Tate, Polanski’s friend Wojciech Frykowski, and his partner, Abigail Folger, who was the incredibly wealthy heiress to the Folger coffee fortune.

As the guests dined inside the house, Watson and the girls were scaling an embankment to the right of the gates, having parked the car further down the driveway. Watson had already cut the phone line to the house.

While they entered the grounds, headlights flashed from an approaching vehicle. Watson stepped in front of the car and aimed a revolver at the driver, 18-year-old Steven Parent, who was visiting a friend living in the guesthouse at the rear of the property.

As Parent begged for his life, Watson shot him four times, leaving his body slumped dead in the vehicle.

Reaching the house, Watson crawled through a window and let two of the women in through the front door, while Kasabian kept watch down by the front gates.

By this point, Frykowski was asleep on the living room couch, awakened with a swift kick in the head. When he asked what Watson was doing in the house, he replied: “I’m the devil and I’m here to do the devil’s business.”

The three others were dragged into the living room and tied up. Tate and Sebring were tied together by their necks with a rope, which was hung over one of the ceiling beams. Sebring protested the rough treatment of the heavily-pregnant Tate, and was shot by Watson.

Folger was ordered into one of the bedrooms to fetch her purse, which contained $70. Watson was distracted by Sebring’s groaning in the lounge room, and came back and stabbed him seven times, killing him.

Kasabian was drawn up the driveway by the fracas. “I started to run toward the house, I wanted them to stop,” she later explained. “I knew what they had done to that man (Parent), that they were killing these people. I wanted them to stop.”

The three Manson ‘family’ girls. From left: Patricia Wrenwinkel, Susan Denise Atkins, and Leslie Van Houten arrive in court in 1971. Photo / News Corp Australia

Frykowski had managed to free his arms from the towel they were tied with, and lunged at Atkins. She stabbed his legs with a butcher’s knife, but he managed to struggle out the front door. There he met Kasabian, who was entering to stop the slaughter.

“He had blood all over his face and he was standing by a post,” Kasabian later testified, “and we looked into each other’s eyes for a minute, and I said, ‘Oh, God, I am so sorry. Please make it stop.’ But then he just fell to the ground into the bushes.”

Watson gave chase and knocked him out with the butt of his revolver, stabbing him numerous times, and shooting his body twice. Miraculously, he was still alive.

Kasabian, horrified by what was occurring, falsely told Atkins that someone was coming. She stood planted to the front lawn, watching with horror as the murders unfolded.

Folger had escaped from the bedroom window and ran out towards the pool area. Krenwinkel gave chase and the pair ended up on the front lawn, where Krenwinkel tackled her to the ground, stabbing her several times.

Watson stepped in and finished the job, stabbing her 28 times. Frykowski, still alive, was crawling across the lawn. Watson finally killed him, with a flurry of further stabs.

As the killers went back inside, Kasabian ran down the hill to where the car was parked and started the engine. As she planned to drive far away, she worried about the fate of her small daughter, who was at the Spahn Ranch, with Charles Manson and the rest of the Family. She hopped out of the car and headed back towards the house.

Kasabian would later testify against the others, being the key witness for the prosecution in exchange for immunity — a controversial decision, given her role in the killings.

Inside the house, Sharon Tate was pleading for her life, offering herself up as a hostage if they’d only let her live long enough to give birth to her child. It was unknown who killed Tate, but she was stabbed 16 times, and her unborn child was brutally cut out of her stomach. As she died, Tate repeatedly cried, “Mother, mother, mother”.

Grabbing the towel used to bind Frykowski, Atkins dipped it in Tate’s blood, and wrote “PIG” on the front door of the house. The four removed their bloody clothing and discarded it in the thick shrub in the hills on their way back to the Spahn Ranch.


To unravel how the Manson Family ended up at Sharon Tate’s house on that evening, we need to go back to patient zero: Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson.

Nowhere is the Californian disconnect between sunshine and shade more prevalent than in the lives of The Beach Boys: wholesome Californian surfer boys whose lead songwriter never caught a wave, an All-American story that features parental cruelty, mental illness, drug abuse, drowning, alcoholism, paranoia, and Charles Manson.

In 1968, Dennis Wilson, drummer for The Beach Boys, picked up two women who were hitchhiking, one of whom was Patricia Krenwinkel.

Through these women, he met Charles Manson, an aspiring songwriter and musician. Wilson was entranced by Manson, and fostered his musical dreams, going so far as facilitating many hours of recording sessions with his brother Brian Wilson, resident genius of The Beach Boys.

Not surprisingly, given what happened the following year, not a second of these recordings has ever been made publicly available, but Never Learn Not To Love, a song written by Manson, with lyrical changes by Dennis, actually made its way onto the Beach Boys album 20/20, released half a year before the Tate murders.

That same year, Wilson, shopping around Manson as a musician, introduced him to Terry Melcher, a record producer who helmed the first two albums by The Byrds, and decades later co-wrote The Beach Boys’ 1988 hit Kokomo.

By this point, Manson and a gaggle of women had moved into Dennis Wilson’s house. Melcher, like Wilson, was initially taken by Manson’s jagged songcraft and made plans to record his music, also floating the idea of making a documentary about Manson and his Family.

Manson met Melcher at 10050 Cielo Drive, the house he lived in with girlfriend Candice Bergen (the titular star of Murphy Brown) and the pair began hatching plans.

As Manson’s erratic behaviour became evident to both Melcher and Wilson, they both started to distance themselves from him. When Wilson changed the lyrics to Manson’s song without his knowledge, Manson threatened his life.

Seven deputies escort Charles Manson from the courtroom after he and three followers were found guilty of seven murders in the Tate-LaBianca slayings. Photo / Getty Images

“One day, Charles Manson brought a bullet out and showed it to Dennis, who asked, ‘What’s this?’,” Beach Boys collaborator Van Dyke Parks recalled later year. “Manson replied, ‘It’s a bullet. Every time you look at it, I want you to think how nice it is your kids are still safe.'”

Charles Manson may be a harbinger of fear in light of the murders, but at the time, he was just a hippy who’d overstepped.

“Dennis grabbed Manson by the head and threw him to the ground,” Parks continues. “He beat the living sh*t out of him.”

Manson felt angered by Wilson, but slighted by Melcher, who had made career promises he hadn’t kept.

When the Family turned up at 10050 Cielo Drive that evening, they were looking to seek retribution. Melcher and Bergen had moved out in January, seven months prior. The owner had then rented the house to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate, who were planning to raise their unborn child in the French country-style home.

There are differing accounts as to whether or not Manson knew Melcher no longer lived at the house. Melcher himself claimed Manson must have known because he left a threatening note on the porch of his new Malibu home.

Susan Atkins, however, who was charged with the murders, told a grand jury the house was chosen “to instil fear into Terry Melcher because Terry had given us his word on a few things and never came through with them”.

That doesn’t explicitly say they expected Melcher to be home.

Nor do claims by Vincent Bugliosi, the lawyer who prosecuted Manson, who wrote in his 1974 book on the case, Helter Skelter, that Manson instructed Watson, Atkins, Kasabian and Krenwinkel to go to “that house where Melcher used to live” and “totally destroy everyone in (it), as gruesome as you can”.

If Melcher wasn’t the physical target, he was certainly meant to feel the threat. Melcher employed a bodyguard, cancelled his recording sessions and appeared shaken at the trial, even though Bugliosi tried to assure him that Manson knew he no longer lived at the house.

According to Beach Boys’ Mike Love, screen legend Doris Day, who was Melcher’s mother, was behind him vacating the house at Cielo Drive.

“The move was no accident,” wrote Love in his 2016 autobiography, Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy. “Terry, Doris’ only child, was extremely close to his mum.

“He had told her about Manson — and about some of his scary antics, his brandishing of knives, his zombie followers — and that Manson had been to the house on Cielo and she insisted he move out.

“A mother’s intuition, perhaps,” Love noted, “and it may have saved his life.”


The murder count from that night could have easily been six, if one guest didn’t completely forget about an invitation to Tate’s house.

Record producer and musician Quincy Jones had an odd history with that house on Cielo Drive. He almost bought the property in the late ’60s, but the owner was only willing to rent it out.

Jones was looking to buy, so he bought a place nearby, while Tate and Polanski took up residence in the Cielo Drive place.

The evening of the murders, Jones was invited to a rough cut screening of Steve McQueen’s film Bullitt, to which he took his hairdresser, Jay Sebring. After the screening, the pair agreed to meet back at Tate’s house, where she was holding a dinner party, but Jones forgot to turn up, and instead went home.

The following morning, Bill Cosby, of all people, called Jones from London.

It was true. The dinner party Jones forgot to attend became the most infamous murder scene of the decade.

“Oh my God, it was freaky,” Jones said of the near miss. “Because they hung him up, man, and cut his nuts off and everything — Jay Sebring. And they cut her belly open with the baby, you know.”

The house at 10050 Cielo Drive had a rich history, even before the murders.

Built in 1941 for French actress Michele Morgan, and located on three acres, the French-style house featured beamed ceilings and stone fireplaces. A swimming pool, cherry trees and a tree-lined private driveway flanked the building, while a guesthouse sat out back.

Hollywood business manager Rudolph Altobelli, who represented a flock of stars, including Katharine Hepburn, bought the house in the early ’60s, and rented it out to a number of big names, including Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, Olivia Hussey — and Polanski and Tate.

Shockingly, just three weeks after the murders, Altobelli himself moved into the house and lived there for the next two decades.

The house was destroyed in 1994, but not before its final tenant, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails made some dark history there of his own. Reznor recorded parts of the first Marilyn Manson album there, as well as his own band’s magnum opus, 1994’s The Downward Spiral.

Despite referring to his home studio as “Pig”, in reference to the gruesome message on the front door, he claims he rented the house only due to his “own interest in American folklore”.

By chance, he met Sharon Tate’s sister while he was living there, who accused him of exploiting her sister’s death. “For the first time the whole thing kind of slapped me in the face,” he told Rolling Stone in 1997.

“I guess it never really struck me before, but it did then. She lost her sister from a senseless, ignorant situation that I don’t want to support,” Reznor said.

He went home and cried that night, sick at his own decisions. “It made me see there’s another side to things, you know? It’s one thing to go around with your dick swinging in the wind, acting like it doesn’t matter.

“But when you understand the repercussions that are felt … that’s what sobered me up: realising that what balances out the appeal of the lawlessness and the lack of morality and that whole thing is the other end of it, the victims who don’t deserve that.”

Reznor moved out in December 1993, explaining, “There was too much history in that house for me to handle.” He did, however, remove the infamous front door and take it with him.

The following year, the house was knocked down and replaced with another, the new owner even applying for a different street address for the property to completely remove any association to the murders.

When attempting to sell in 1998, the owner stressed this was a different house, devoid of any horrific history.

“We went to great pains to get rid of everything,” he told LA Weekly. “There’s no house, no dirt, no blade of grass remotely connected to Sharon Tate.”

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Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

Officers Jerrome A. Boen and D.L. Girt, Latent Prints Section, Scientific Investigation Division, LAPD, dusted the main residence and the guest house for prints.

After dusting a print with powder (“developing the print”), a clear adhesive tape was placed over it; the tape, with the print showing, would then be “lifted” and placed on a card with a contrasting background. Location, date, time, officer’s initials were noted on the back.

One such “lift” card, prepared by Boen, read: “8-9-69/10050 Cielo/1400/JAB/Inside door frame of left French door/from master bedroom to pool area/handle side.”

Another lift, taken about the same time, was from the “Outside front door/handle side/above handle.”

It took six hours to cover both residences. Later that afternoon the pair were joined by officer D. E. Dorman and Wendell Clements, the latter a civilian fingerprint expert, who concentrated on the four vehicles.

Contrary to popular opinion, a readable print is more rare than common. Many surfaces, such as clothing and fabrics, do not lend themselves to impressions. Even when the surface is such that it will take a print, one usually touches it with only a portion of the finger, leaving a fragmentary ridge, which is useless for comparison. If the finger is moved, the result is an unreadable smudge. And, as officer DeRosa demonstrated with the gate button, one print placed atop another creates a superimposure, also useless for identification purposes. Thus, at any crime scene, the number of clear, readable prints, with enough points for comparison, is usually surprisingly small.

Not counting those prints later eliminated as belonging to LAPD personnel at the scene, a total of fifty lifts were taken from the residence, guest house, and vehicles at 10050 Cielo Drive. Of these, seven were eliminated as belonging to William Garretson (all were from the guest house; none of Garretson’s prints were found in the main house or on the vehicles); an additional fifteen were eliminated as belonging to the victims; and three were not clear enough for comparison. This left a total of twenty-five unmatched latent prints, any of which might—or might not—belong to the killer or killers.


It was 1:30 P.M. before the first homicide detectives arrived. On verify- ing that the deaths were not accidental or self-inflicted, Lieutenant Madlock had requested that the investigation be reassigned to the Robbery-Homicide Division. Lieutenant Robert J. Helder, supervisor of investigations, was placed in charge. He in turn assigned Sergeants Michael J. McGann and Jess Buckles to the case. (McGann’s regular partner, Sergeant Robert Calkins, was on vacation and would replace Buckles when he returned.) Three additional officers, Sergeants E. Henderson, Dudley Varney, and Danny Galindo, were to assist them.

On being notified of the homicides, Los Angeles County Coroner Thomas Noguchi asked the police not to touch the bodies until a representative of his office had examined them. Deputy Coroner John Finken arrived about 1:45, later to be joined by Noguchi himself. Finken made the official determination of death; took liver and environmental temperatures (by 2 P.M. it was 94 degrees on the lawn, 83 degrees inside the house); and severed the rope connecting Tate and Sebring, portions of which were given to the detectives so that they could try to determine where it had been manufactured and sold. It was white, three-strand nylon, its total length 43 feet 8 inches. Granado took blood samples from the rope, but didn’t take subtypes, again presuming. Finken also removed the personal property from the bodies of the victims. Sharon Tate Polanski: yellow metal wedding band, earrings. Jay Sebring: Cartier wristwatch, later determined to be worth in excess of $1,500. John Doe 85: Lucerne wristwatch, wallet with various papers but no ID. Abigail Folger and Voytek Frykowski: no property on persons. After plastic bags had been placed over the hands of the victims, to preserve any hair or skin that might have become lodged under the nails during a struggle, Finken assisted in covering and placing the bodies on stretcher carts, to be wheeled to ambulances and taken to the Coroner’s Office, Hall of Justice, downtown Los Angeles.

Besieged by reporters at the gate, Dr. Noguchi announced he would have no comment until making public the autopsy results at noon the following day.

Both Noguchi and Finken, however, privately had already given the detectives their initial findings.

There was no evidence of sexual molestation or mutilation.

Three of the victims—the John Doe, Sebring, and Frykowski—had been shot. Aside from a defensive slash wound on his left hand, which also severed the band of his wristwatch, John Doe had not been stabbed. But the other four had—many, many times. In addition, Sebring had been hit in the face at least once, and Frykowski had been struck over the head repeatedly with a blunt object.

Though exact findings would have to await the autopsies, the coroners concluded from the size of the bullet holes that the gun used had probably been .22 caliber. The police had already suspected this. In searching the Rambler, Sergeant Varney had found four bullet fragments between the upholstery and the exterior metal of the door on the passenger side. Also found, on the cushion of the rear seat, was part of a slug. Though all were too small for comparison purposes, they appeared to be .22 caliber.

As for the stab wounds, someone suggested that the wound pattern was not dissimilar to that made by a bayonet. In their official report the detectives carried this a step further, concluding, “the knife that inflicted the stab wounds was probably a bayonet.” This not only eliminated a number of other possibilities, it also presumed that only one knife had been used.

The depth of the wounds (many in excess of 5 inches), their width (between 1 and 1 1⁄2 inches), and their thickness (1⁄8 to 1⁄4 inch) ruled out either a kitchen or a regular pocketknife.

Coincidentally, the only two knives found in the house were a kitchen knife and a pocketknife.

A steak knife had been found in the kitchen sink. Granado got a positive benzidine reaction, indicating blood, but a negative Ouchterlony, indicating it was animal, not human. Boen dusted it for prints, but got only fragmentary ridges. Mrs. Chapman later identified the knife as one of a set of steak knives that belonged to the Polanskis, and she located all the others in a drawer. But even before this, the police had eliminated it because of its dimensions, in particular its thinness. The stabbings were so savage that such a blade would have broken.

Granado found the second knife in the living room, less than three feet from Sharon Tate’s body. It was wedged behind the cushion in one of the chairs, with the blade sticking up. A Buck brand clasp-type pocketknife, its blade was 3⁄4 inch in diameter, 313⁄16 inches in length, making it too small to have caused most of the wounds. Noticing a spot on the side of the blade, Granado tested it for blood: negative. Girt dusted it for prints: an unreadable smudge.

Mrs. Chapman could not recall ever having seen this particular knife. This, plus the odd place where it was found, indicated that it might have been left by the killer(s).


In literature a murder scene is often likened to a picture puzzle. If one is patient and keeps trying, eventually all the pieces will fit into place.

Veteran policemen know otherwise. A much better analogy would be two picture puzzles, or three, or more, no one of which is in itself complete. Even after a solution emerges—if one does—there will be leftover pieces, evidence that just doesn’t fit. And some pieces will always be missing.

There was the American flag, its presence adding still another bizarre touch to a scene already horribly macabre. The possibilities it suggested ranged from one end of the political spectrum to the other—until Winifred Chapman told the police that it had been in the residence several weeks.

Few pieces of evidence were so easily eliminated. There were the bloody letters on the front door. In recent years the word “pig” had taken on a new meaning, one all too familiar to the police. But what did it mean printed here?

There was the rope. Mrs. Chapman flatly stated that she had never seen such a rope anywhere on the premises. Had the killer(s) brought it? If so, why?

What significance was there in the fact that the two victims bound together by the rope, Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring, were former lovers? Or was “former” the right word? What was Sebring doing there, with Polanski away? It was a question that many of the newspapers would also ask.

The horn-rimmed glasses—negative for both prints and blood—did they belong to a victim, a killer, or someone totally unconnected with the crime? Or—with each question the possibilities proliferated—had they been left behind as a false clue?

The two trunks in the entryway. The maid said they hadn’t been there when she left at 4:30 the previous afternoon. Who delivered them, and when, and had this person seen anything?

Why would the killer(s) go to the trouble of slitting and removing a screen when other windows, those in the newly painted room that was to be the nursery for the Polanskis’ unborn child, were open and screenless?

John Doe 85, the youth in the Rambler. Chapman, Garretson, and Tennant had failed to identify him. Who was he and what was he doing at 10050 Cielo Drive? Had he witnessed the other murders, or had he been killed before they took place? If before, wouldn’t the others have heard the shots? On the seat next to him was a Sony AM–FM Digimatic clock radio. The time at which it had stopped was 12:15 A.M. Coincidence or significant?

As for the time of the murders, the reports of gunshots and other sounds ranged from shortly after midnight to 4:10 A.M.

Not all of the evidence was as inconclusive. Some of the pieces fitted. No shell casings were found anywhere on the property, indicating that the gun was probably a revolver, which does not eject its spent shells, as contrasted to an automatic, which does.

Placed together, the three pieces of black wood formed the right-hand side of a gun grip. The police therefore knew the gun they were looking for was probably a .22 caliber revolver that was minus a right grip. From the pieces it might be possible to determine both make and model. Though there was human blood on all three pieces, only one had enough for analysis. It tested O-MN. Of the five victims, only Sebring had O- MN, indicating that the butt of the revolver could have been the blunt object used to strike him in the face.

The bloody letters on the front door tested O-M. Again, only one of the victims had this type and subtype. The word PIG had been printed in Sharon Tate’s blood.

There were four vehicles in the driveway, but one which should have been there wasn’t—Sharon Tate’s red Ferrari. It was possible that the killer(s) had used the sports car to escape, and a “want” was broadcast for it.


Long after the bodies had been removed, the detectives remained on the scene, looking for meaningful patterns.

They found several which appeared significant.

There were no indications of ransacking or robbery. McGann found Sebring’s wallet in his jacket, which was hanging over the back of a chair in the living room. It contained $80. John Doe had $9 in his wallet, Frykowski $2.44 in his wallet and pants pocket, Folger $9.64 in her purse. On the nightstand next to Sharon Tate’s bed, in plain view, were a ten, a five, and three ones. Obviously expensive items—a videotape machine, TV sets, stereo, Sebring’s wristwatch, his Porsche—had not been taken. Several days later the police would bring Winifred Chapman back to 10050 Cielo to see if she could determine if anything was missing. The only item she couldn’t locate was a camera tripod, which had been kept in the hall closet. These five incredibly savage murders were obviously not committed for a camera tripod. In all probability it had been lent to someone or lost.

While this didn’t completely eliminate the possibility that the murders had occurred during a residential burglary—the victims surprising the burglar(s) while at work—it certainly put it way down the list.

Other discoveries provided a much more likely direction.

A gram of cocaine was found in Sebring’s Porsche, plus 6.3 grams of marijuana and a two-inch “roach,” slang for a partially smoked marijuana cigarette.

There were 6.9 grams of marijuana in a plastic bag in a cabinet in the living room of the main residence. In the nightstand in the bedroom used by Frykowski and Folger were 30 grams of hashish, plus ten capsules which, later analyzed, proved to be a relatively new drug known as MDA. There was also marijuana residue in the ashtray on the stand next to Sharon Tate’s bed, a marijuana cigarette on the desk near the front door, and two more in the guest house.

Had a drug party been in progress, one of the participants “freaking out” and slaying everyone there? The police put this at the top of their list of possible reasons for the murders, though well aware this theory had several weaknesses, chief among them the presumption that there was a single killer, wielding a gun in one hand, a bayonet in the other, at the same time carrying 43 feet of rope, all of which, conveniently, he just happened to bring along. Also, there were the wires. If they had been cut before the murders, this indicated premeditation, not a spontaneous flare- up. If cut after, why?

Or could the murders have been the result of a drug “burn,” the killer(s) arriving to make a delivery or buy, an argument over money or bad drugs erupting into violence? This was the second, and in many ways the most likely, of the five theories the detectives would list in their first investigative report.

The third theory was a variation of the second, the killer(s) deciding to keep both the money and the drugs.

The fourth was the residential burglary theory.

The fifth, that these were “deaths by hire,” the killer(s) being sent to the house to eliminate one or more of the victims, then, in order to escape identification, finding it necessary to kill all. But would a hired killer choose as one of his weapons something as large, conspicuous, and unwieldy as a bayonet? And would he keep stabbing and stabbing and stabbing in a mad frenzy, as so obviously had been done in this case?

The drug theories seemed to make the most sense. In the investigation that followed, as the police interviewed acquaintances of the victims, and the victims’ habits and life styles emerged into clearer focus, the possibility that drugs were in some way linked to the motive became in some minds such a certainty that when given a clue which could have solved the case, they refused even to consider it.


The police were not the only ones to think of drugs.

On hearing of the deaths, actor Steve McQueen, long-time friend of Jay Sebring, suggested that the hair stylist’s home should be rid of narcotics to protect his family and business. Though McQueen did not himself participate in the “housecleaning,” by the time LAPD got around to searching Sebring’s residence, anything embarrassing had been removed.

Others developed instant paranoia. No one was sure who the police would question, or when. An unidentified film figure told a Life reporter: “Toilets are flushing all over Beverly Hills; the entire Los Angeles sewer system is stoned.”


Sharon Tate Victim
In “Ritual” Murders

The headlines dominated the front pages of the afternoon papers, became the big news on radio and TV. The bizarre nature of the crime, the number of victims, and their prominence—a beautiful movie star, the heiress to a coffee fortune, her jet-set playboy paramour, an internationally known hair stylist—would combine to make this one of the most publicized murder cases in American history, exceeded only by the Lindbergh kidnapping-murder case and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Even the staid New York Times, which rarely reports crime on its front page, did so the next day, and many days thereafter.

The accounts that day and the next were notable for the unusual amount of detail they contained. So much information had been given out, in fact, that the detectives would have difficulty finding “polygraph keys” for questioning suspects.

In any homicide, it is standard practice to withhold certain information which presumably only the police and the killer(s) know. If a suspect confesses, or agrees to a polygraph examination, these keys can then be used to determine if he is telling the truth.

Owing to the many leaks, the detectives assigned to the “Tate case,” as the press was already calling the murders, could only come up with five: (1) That the knife used was probably a bayonet. (2) That the gun was probably a .22 caliber revolver. (3) The exact dimensions of the rope, as well as the way it was looped and tied. And (4) and (5), that a pair of horn-rimmed glasses and a Buck knife had been found.

The amount of information unofficially released so bothered LAPD brass that a tight lid was clamped on further disclosures. This didn’t please the reporters; also, lacking hard news, many turned to conjecture and speculation. In the days that followed a monumental amount of false information was published. It was widely reported, for example, that Sharon Tate’s unborn child had been ripped from her womb; that one or both of her breasts had been slashed off; that several of the victims had been sexually mutilated. The towel over Sebring’s face became a white hood (KKK?) or a black hood (satanists?), depending on which paper or magazine you read.

When it came to the man charged with the murders, however, there was a paucity of information. It was presumed, initially, that the police were maintaining silence to protect Garretson’s rights. It was also presumed that LAPD had to have a strong case against him or they wouldn’t have arrested him.

A Pasadena paper, picking up bits and pieces of information, sought to fill the gap. It stated that when the officers found Garretson, he asked, “When are the detectives going to see me?” The implication was obvious: Garretson knew what had happened. Garretson did ask this, but it was as he was being taken through the gate, long after his arrest, and the question was in response to an earlier comment by DeRosa. Quoting unidentified policemen, the paper also noted: “They said the slender youth had a rip in one knee of his pants and his living quarters in the guest cottage showed signs of a struggle.” Damning evidence, unless one were aware that all this happened during, not before, Garretson’s arrest.


During the first few days a total of forty-three officers would visit the crime scene, looking for weapons and other evidence. In searching the loft above the living room, Sergeant Mike McGann found a film can containing a roll of video-tape. Sergeant Ed Henderson took it to the Police Academy, which had screening facilities. The film showed Sharon and Roman Polanski making love. With a certain delicacy, the tape was not booked into evidence but was returned to the loft where it had been found.


In addition to searching the premises, detectives interviewed neighbors, asking if they had seen any strange people in the area.

Ray Asin recalled that two or three months before there had been a large party at 10050 Cielo Drive, the guests arriving in “hippie garb.” He got the impression, however, that they weren’t actually hippies, as most arrived in Rolls-Royces and Cadillacs.

Emmett Steele, who had been awakened by the barking of his hunting dogs the previous night, remembered that in recent weeks someone had been racing a dune buggy up and down the hills late at night, but he never got a close look at the driver and passengers.

Most of those interviewed, however, claimed they had neither seen nor heard anything out of the ordinary.

The detectives were left with far more questions than answers. However, they were hopeful one person could put the puzzle together for them: William Garretson.


The detectives downtown were less optimistic. Following his arrest, the nineteen-year-old had been taken to West Los Angeles jail and interrogated.The officers found his answers “stuporous and non-responsive,” and were of the opinion that he was under the residual effect of some drug. It was also possible, as Garretson himself claimed, that he had slept little the previous night, just a few hours in the morning, and that he was exhausted, and very scared.

Shortly after this, Garretson retained the services of attorney Barry Tarlow. A second interview, with Tarlow present, took place at Parker Center, headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department. As far as the police were concerned, it too was unproductive. Garretson claimed that although he lived on the property, he had little contact with the people in the main house. He said that he’d only had one visitor the previous night, a boy named Steve Parent, who showed up about 11:45 and left about a half hour later. Questioned about Parent, Garretson said he didn’t know him well. He’d hitched a ride up the canyon with him one night a couple of weeks ago and, on getting out of the car at the gate, had told Steve if he was ever in the neighborhood to drop in. Garretson, who lived by himself in the back house, except for the dogs, said he’d extended similar invitations to others. When Steve showed up, he was surprised: no one else ever had. But Steve didn’t stay long, leaving after learning that Garretson wasn’t interested in buying a clock radio Steve had for sale.

The police did not at this time connect Garretson’s visitor with the youth in the Rambler, possibly because Garretson had earlier failed to identify him.

After conferring with Tarlow, Garretson agreed to take a polygraph examination, and one was scheduled for the following afternoon.


Twelve hours had passed since the discovery of the bodies. John Doe 85 remained unidentified.

Police lieutenant Robert Madlock, who had been in charge of the investigation during the several hours before it was assigned to homicide, would later state: “At the time we first found the car at the scene, we were going fourteen different directions at once. So many things had to be done, I guess we just didn’t have time to follow up on the car registration.”

All day Wilfred and Juanita Parent had waited, and worried. Their eighteen-year-old son Steven hadn’t come home the previous night. “He didn’t call, didn’t leave word. He’d never done anything like that before,” Juanita Parent said.

About 8 P.M., aware that his wife was too distraught to cook dinner, Wilfred Parent took her and their three other children to a restaurant. Maybe when we get back, he told his wife, Steve will be there.


From outside the gate of 10050 Cielo it was possible to make out the license number on the white Rambler: ZLR 694. A reporter wrote it down, then ran his own check through the Department of Motor Vehicles, learning that the registered owner was “Wilfred E. or Juanita D. Parent, 11214 Bryant Drive, El Monte, California.”

By the time he arrived in El Monte, a Los Angeles suburb some twenty-five miles from Cielo Drive, he found no one at home. Questioning the neighbors, he learned that the family did have a boy in his late teens; he also learned the name of the family priest, Father Robert Byrne, of the Church of the Nativity, and called on him. Byrne knew the youth and his family well. Though the priest was sure Steve didn’t know any movie stars and that all this was some mistake, he agreed to accompany the reporter to the county morgue. On the way he talked about Steve. He was a stereo “bug,” Father Byrne said; if you ever wanted to know anything about phonographs or radios, Steve had the answers. Father Byrne held great hopes for his future.


In the interim, LAPD discovered the identity of the youth through a print and license check. Shortly after the Parents returned home, an El Monte policeman appeared at the door and handed Wilfred Parent a card with a number on it and told him to call it. He left without saying anything else.

Parent dialed the number.

“County Coroner’s Office,” a man answered.

Confused, Parent identified himself and explained about the police- man and the card.

The call was transferred to a deputy coroner, who told him, “Your son has apparently been involved in a shooting.”

“Is he dead?” Parent asked, stunned. His wife, hearing the question, became hysterical.

“We have a body down here,” the deputy coroner replied, “and we believe it’s your son.” He then went on to describe physical characteristics. They matched.

Parent hung up the phone and began sobbing. Later, understandably bitter, he’d remark, “All I can say is that it was a hell of a way to tell somebody that their boy was dead.”

About this same time, Father Byrne viewed the body and made the identification. John Doe 85 became Steven Earl Parent, an eighteen-year-old hi-fi enthusiast from El Monte.

It was 5 A.M. before the Parents went to bed. “The wife and I finally just put the kids in bed with us and the five of us just held on to each other and cried until we went to sleep.”


About nine that same Saturday night, August 9, 1969, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca and Suzanne Struthers, Rosemary’s twenty-one-year-old daughter by a previous marriage, left Lake Isabella for the long drive back to Los Angeles. The lake, a popular resort area, was some 150 miles from L.A.

Suzanne’s brother, Frank Struthers, Jr., fifteen, had been vacationing at the lake with a friend, Jim Saffie, whose family had a cabin there. Rosemary and Leno had driven up the previous Tuesday, to leave their speedboat for the boys to use, then returned Saturday morning to pick up Frank and the boat. However, the boys were having such a good time the LaBiancas agreed to let Frank stay over another day, and they were returning now, without him, driving their 1968 green Thunderbird, towing the speedboat on a trailer behind.

Leno, the president of a chain of Los Angeles supermarkets, was forty-four, Italian, and, at 220 pounds, somewhat overweight. Rosemary, a trim, attractive brunette of thirty-eight, was a former carhop who, after a series of waitress jobs and a bad marriage, had opened her own dress shop, the Boutique Carriage, on North Figueroa in Los Angeles, and made a big success of it. She and Leno had been married since 1959.

Because of the boat, they couldn’t drive at the speed Leno preferred, and fell behind most of the Saturday night freeway traffic that was speeding toward Los Angeles and environs. Like many others that night, they had the radio on and heard the news of the Tate murders. According to Suzanne, it seemed particularly to disturb Rosemary, who, a few weeks earlier, had told a close friend, “Someone is coming in our house while we’re away. Things have been gone through and the dogs are outside the house when they should be inside.”

Actress Sharon Tate has remained a Hollywood icon for decades for her work on films like the cult-classic Valley of the Dolls, her connection to controversial filmmaker Roman Polanski, and her tragic death.

Now, with the 50 year anniversary of her infamous murder approaching, Tate has become the focus of three upcoming films, including Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, starring Margot Robbie as the starlet. Here’s what you should know about the real Tate.

She was worldly from a young age.

Born on January 24, 1943, in Dallas, Texas, Tate spent much of her youth moving from place to place for her father, Colonel Paul James Tate’s, military career setting up missile stations for NATO nations.

“We were always traveling, often into a different country, and that makes it hard on keeping friends,” Sharon’s younger sister, Debra Tate told the New York Times in 2018.

Silver Screen CollectionGetty Images

In high school, the family settled in Italy, where Tate worked as an extra on film sets and her interest in acting took root.

She was a beauty queen.

Tate was noted for her remarkable beauty almost from the start: the future star was named Miss Tiny Tot of Dallas when she was just six months old. At 16, in 1959, she was named Miss Richland while the attending high school in Richland, Washington. Tate had to give up her crown shortly thereafter when the family received news that her father was being transferred to a posting in Italy, but Tate’s doll-like beauty would earn her attention for the rest of her life.

Sharon Tate appeared in a recurring role on The Beverly Hillbillies in the early 1960s before transitioning to film. CBS Photo ArchiveGetty Images

She worked on sitcoms before getting into film.

Valley of the Dolls $6.99

In 1962, Tate met and signed a contract with Martin Ransohoff, director of Filmways, Inc. With Ransohoff’s help, Tate garnered minor roles on network sitcoms like Mister Ed as well as a recurring part on The Beverly Hillbillies. She was also reportedly up for the role of Billie Jo on the comedy Petticoat Junction but was passed over.

In 1965, she appeared alongside David Niven in the film Eye of the Devil. She would go on to star in five more films, including a roll opposite her future husband, director Roman Polanski, in his spoof The Fearless Vampire Hunters She co-starred with Dean Martin in The Wrecking Crew, and had her breakout role in Valley of the Dolls, for which she was nominated for a New Star of the Year Golden Globe in 1968.

She married Roman Polanski in 1968.

Tate was romantically linked with several notable names in the mid-1960s including French heartthrob Philippe Forquet and celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, on whom Warren Beatty supposedly partially based his womanizing character in Shampoo.

Though she and Sebring remained close friends even after their romantic split, it was Polanski, director of Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown, with whom Tate ultimately settled down. Shortly before her 25th birthday, the couple wed in London, in a ceremony at the Chelsea Register Office on January 20, 1968. The high-necked ivory silk minidress that Tate for the occasion sold at auction for $56,000 in 2018.

Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski married in London in 1968. Keystone-FranceGetty Images

Over the years, the nature of Polanski and Tate’s 18-month marriage has become the source of much debate because of events that took place after the actress’s death. In 1977, Polanski was indicted on six criminal counts for the sexual assault of 13-year-old Samantha Gailey and pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and ultimately fled to Europe. He has subsequently been accused of sexual assault by multiple other women and was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts in 2018.

One of Tate’s friends, Joanna Pettet, said in the 2016 book Sharon Tate: A Life that Polanski, “Told her how to dress; he told her what makeup he liked, what he didn’t like. He preferred her with nothing, no makeup.” Others have said that Polanski forced the star into sexual situations, including unwanted threesomes.

However, not everyone agrees with that assessment. “Sharon absolutely adored Roman. She was head over heels in love with Roman. There are a whole lot of people that have said things, but it’s pure fabrication,” Tate’s sister Debra said in 2018. “Roman and Sharon were a true love story, that’s what I observed.”

Silver Screen CollectionGetty Images

In 1969, Tate became pregnant with her and Polanski’s first child, a son.

Tate was murdered by members of the Manson Family in 1969.

Late in the night between the 8th and 9th of August, 1969, Tate, who was eight months pregnant at the time, was murdered in her Los Angeles home along with four others: her close friend Jay Sebring, Polanski’s friend Woytek Frykowski, Frykowski’s girlfriend, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and Steven Parent, a friend of the estate’s caretaker who happened to be visiting him at the time.

The killings were committed at the behest of cult-leader Charles Manson by Charles “Tex” Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian, supposedly in order to incite a race war, though that motive has been heavily debated. The group, along with Leslie Van Houten, would go on to murder Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their Los Angeles home the following night.

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Members of the Manson Family cult were arrested in October of that year on suspicion of auto theft; they were ultimately connected with the Tate and LaBianca murders after Atkins bragged about the killings to cellmates in prison. Manson, Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel, Kasabian, and Van Houten were indicted for their roles in the murders that December; all except for Kasabian were found guilty and received the death penalty in 1971. (Kasabian was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony.) Those sentences were later commuted to life in prison after the death penalty was abolished in California in 1972.

After Tate’s death, her mother became a victim’s rights advocate.

In 1982, Tate’s mother, Doris Tate, helped get the Victim’s Rights Bill passed in California, allowing for statements by victims about the impact of the crimes committed against them or their loved ones to be entered into the proceedings at particular points in the legal process, including parole hearings. She later founded the Coalition on Victim’s Equal Rights.

“The most that I, or any person touched by violence, can hope for is acceptance of the pain,” she reportedly said. “You never forget it, not even with the passage of time. But, if, in my work, I can help transform Sharon’s legacy from murder victim to a symbol for victims’ rights, I will have accomplished what I set out to do.”

Related Story Lauren Hubbard Writer Lauren Hubbard is a freelance writer and Town & Country contributor who covers beauty, shopping, entertainment, travel, home decor, wine, and cocktails.

Emmanuelle Seigner, the actress and singer who has been married to filmmaker Roman Polanski since 1989, is taking Quentin Tarantino to task over Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood. The movie, Tarantino’s ode to Hollywood in 1969–the year of the Manson Family murders— features actors playing Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and Polanski (Rafał Zawierucha), who were married and expecting their first child together when Tate was gruesomely murdered by followers of Charles Manson. In a recent Instagram post, Seigner wrote that she thought it was in poor taste for Tarantino to feature Polanski in the film without reportedly consulting him.

“How can you take advantage of someone’s tragic life while trampling on them?” she wrote in French, as translated by The Hollywood Reporter. “Something to think about (I’m talking about the system that tramples Roman).”

She shared the caption beneath an old photo of Tate and Polanski together. Seigner also explained that she wasn’t criticizing the movie itself.

“A little explanation because I understand that people don’t understand my point-of-view. I am not criticizing the film. I am just saying that it doesn’t bother them to make a film about Roman and his tragic story, and make money with it . . . while at the same time they have made him a pariah,” she wrote. “And all without consulting him of course. Let’s judge the film as a good one, but the idea is this is bothersome.”

Regarding her “pariah” comment: Polanski has mostly been out of Hollywood’s spotlight since 1977, when he pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. He fled the U.S. after serving 42 days, and has stayed out of the country ever since. Before the scandal, Polanski was a widely respected director. He was married to Tate, a rising star, and was helming classics like Rosemary’s Baby and, after Tate’s death, Chinatown. His reputation shifted dramatically after the events of 1977, when he was largely excommunicated from Hollywood.

However, he wasn’t entirely kicked out of the industry. Polanski continued making films overseas and, in 2003, was awarded a best-director Oscar for The Pianist. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the tide more recently turned on Polanski again, with the Academy voting to boot him out of its ranks—a decision Polanski is fighting against. In the meantime, his upcoming film An Officer and a Spy was recently shopped at Cannes, where Once Upon a Time also made its splashy debut—a sign that though Polanski may be a pariah in Hollywood, he’s still being backed overseas.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Photos: Meet the Characters and Go on Set

1 / 16Chevron Chevron Photograph by Annie Leibovitz. HOT TAKE
Members of the crew shade and shine Daniels, the only cast member to appear in all nine of the Skywalker films, while BB-8 looks on.

On this day in 1969, members of Charles Manson’s cult killed five people in movie director Roman Polanski’s Beverly Hills, California, home, including Polanski’s pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate. Less than two days later, the group killed again, murdering supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary in their home. The savage crimes shocked the nation and, strangely, turned Charles Manson into a criminal icon. Manson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1934 to an unwed 16-year-old mother. He spent much of his childhood in juvenile reformatories and his early adulthood in prison. After his release in 1967, Manson moved to California and used his unlikely magnetism to attract a group of hippies and set up a commune, where drugs and orgies were common, on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Manson preached his own blend of eccentric religious teachings to his acolytes, who called themselves his “Family.”

He told them a race war between blacks and whites was imminent and would result in great power for the Family. Manson said they should instigate the war by killing rich white people and trying to make it look like the work of blacks. Roman Polanski (‘Rosemary’s Baby’, ‘Chinatown’, ‘The Pianist’), was not the cult leader’s intended target. Manson, an aspiring musician, chose the Polanski house because he had once unsuccessfully tried to get a recording deal from a producer who used to live there. Polanski was out of town at the time of the murders, but his wife and her friends, including coffee heiress Abigail Folger, were shot or stabbed to death. Manson stayed out of the Polanski house on the night of the crime and did not take part in the LaBianca killings either. However, he would later be charged with murder on the grounds he had influenced his followers and masterminded the crimes.

After initially eluding police suspicion, Manson was arrested only after one of his followers, already in jail on a different charge, started bragging about what had happened. Manson’s subsequent trial became a national spectacle, in which he exhibited bizarre and violent behaviour. In 1971, he was convicted and given the death sentence; however, that sentence became life behind bars when the California Supreme Court overturned the death penalty in 1972. Manson has been the subject of numerous movies and books, including the best-seller ‘Helter Skelter’ (the title is a reference to a Beatles’ song of the same name, through which Manson believed the group was sending secret messages to start a race war). Manson remains in a California prison till this day.

Ex-Manson follower Susan Atkins dies

(CNN) — Susan Denise Atkins, a former member of the Manson family who killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate during a two-day killing spree in 1969, has died, according to a California corrections spokesman. She was 61.

Susan Atkins, here with husband James Whitehouse, died Thursday night after a battle with brain cancer.

Atkins died at 11:46 p.m. PT Thursday (2:46 a.m. Friday ET) at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, said Terry Thornton with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Atkins, California’s longest-serving female inmate, was suffering from terminal brain cancer. Since she entered prison in 1971, she became a born-again Christian who worked to help at-risk youth, victims of violent crimes and homeless children, among others, according to a Web site maintained by her attorney and husband, James Whitehouse.

But Atkins was best known for her actions in 1969 when as a 21-year-old she and other Manson family members participated in seven murders over two days, a rampage that terrorized Los Angeles.

By her own admission, Atkins held Tate, who was the eight months’ pregnant, down as the 26-year-old actress pleaded for mercy, stabbing her 16 times. In a 1993 parole board hearing, Atkins said Tate “asked me to let her baby live. … I told her I didn’t have any mercy on her.”

After stabbing Tate to death, Atkins — known in the family as Sadie Mae Glutz — scrawled the word “pig” in blood on the door of the home Tate shared with her husband, director Roman Polanski, according to historical accounts of the murders.

Polanski was not home at the time, but three of Tate’s houseguests — Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring and Voytek Frykowski — were killed. Also slain was teenager Steven Parent, who was visiting the home’s caretaker in his cottage out back.

All of those involved — Manson, Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles “Tex” Watson — were convicted in connection with the five deaths that night and the killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca the following night. Atkins also was convicted in the earlier murder of music teacher Gary Hinman.

They were all sentenced to death. But their sentences were automatically commuted to life in prison when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the nation’s death penalty laws in 1972.

Atkins’ brain cancer was diagnosed in March 2008, Whitehouse wrote on his Web site. On May 15, 2008, doctors predicted she would live less than six months. But she passed that deadline, he wrote, and celebrated her 21st wedding anniversary on December 7.

In July 2008, Atkins requested a “compassionate release” from the California Board of Parole Hearings. It was denied by unanimous decision. Her request was opposed by Tate’s sister, Debra, Los Angeles County prosecutors and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others.

On September 2, a panel from the Board of Parole Hearings denied Atkins’ suitability for parole in a hearing, her 13th. Atkins’ hospital bed was wheeled into the hearing room for the proceeding, and she appeared to sleep through much of it. For her statement, her husband helped her deliver the 23rd Psalm. She spoke in a high, cracked voice.

During the roughly six-hour-long hearing, Debra Tate asked the board commissioners not to free Atkins.

“There has never been any hate in my heart for these people,” she said. “I am incapable of hating. I commend them — always have commended them — for their good deeds that they have managed to accomplish within the walls of confinement. However, I do believe that the death of my sister, my nephew — which would be turning 40 years old right now, this week — is not an irrelevant cause.”

Atkins was described as a model prisoner who accepted responsibility for her crime, but Tate said Atkins had never offered her an apology.

Sebring’s nephew, Anthony DiMaria, also spoke at the parole suitability hearing. “I feel genuine compassion for Ms. Atkins as she deals with this disease,” he told parole commissioners, “but in no way should an illness dealt by fate mitigate punishment for crimes of this magnitude.”

Atkins was housed in the California Institution for Women at Frontera until May 2008 when her declining health prompted a move to Central California Women’s Facility. On his Web site, Whitehouse wrote that as of spring 2009, Atkins was paralyzed over 85 percent of her body and could not sit up in bed or even be moved into a wheelchair.

Like most of the other former Manson family members, Atkins shunned Manson during her incarceration. “He is a liar, a con artist, a physical abuser of women and children, a psychological and emotional abuser of human beings, a thief, a dope pusher, a kidnaper, a child stealer, a pimp, a rapist and a child molester,” she wrote in a manuscript posted on her Web site.

“I can attest to all of these things with my own eyes. And he was all of these things before he was a murderer.”

Atkins gave birth to a son while living at Spahn Ranch, an old movie set, with other members of the Manson family. While she was on death row, she wrote, he was legally taken from her because no one in her family was willing to raise him.

“His name and identity have been changed and sealed, so I have no idea where he is or how he is doing,” she wrote. “I have since been told his name was changed to Paul, and whether or not that is true I like it. … My continuing separation from my son, even after all these years, remains an incredibly poignant and enduring loss.”

Ironically, Sharon Tate planned to name her unborn son Paul. The gravestone bears the inscription Paul Richard Polanski.

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Why Did the Manson Family Kill Sharon Tate? Here’s the Story Charles Manson Told the Last Man Who Interviewed Him

In Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, one of the most infamous crimes of the 20th century plays a prominent role: though the movie’s story is fictionalized, Margot Robbie plays Sharon Tate, the real actor who was a victim of the 1969 murders committed by followers of the cult leader Charles Manson.

A half-century after Tate’s death, there remain plenty of myths and theories about why Manson’s followers carried out the murders — and one of the biggest questions is the extent to which Charles Manson himself was involved, and why.

At the time, prosecutors said that Manson, who wanted to be a rock star, ordered the murders of Tate and four others because the previous owner of the house at which the deaths occurred — Terry Melcher, a music producer — had refused to make a record with Manson. Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi also argued that Manson was obsessed with the Beatles’ White Album, and thought its message was that he should start a race war by framing black innocents for crimes against affluent white people; the “race war” was nicknamed “Helter Skelter” after that song, and the fact that the word “pig” was written on the wall at the crime scene in blood was linked to the track “Piggies.”

But, says James Buddy Day, a true-crime TV producer and author of the new book Hippie Cult Leader: The Last Words of Charles Manson, everyone involved in the crimes had a slightly different take on what happened. While researching the book, Day conducted interviews with Manson — who was still serving a life sentence — during the year leading up to Manson’s death on Nov. 19, 2017, at the age of 83, and is thus believed to be the last person to interview the infamous criminal at length.

“There are so many people involved in the Manson story, not one of them can say what really happened. No one was making decisions for the whole group,” he says.

One of the people who offered Day a version of the story was, of course, Manson, who maintained his innocence until his death. “I didn’t have nothing to do with killing those people,” he told Day in a phone call. “They knew I didn’t have anything to do with it.” So the story Manson told Day about the summer of 1969 is one in which, unlike in the “Helter Skelter” story, his role in the murders is relatively small.

“There’s this whole underlying story people don’t know,” says Day, who, 50 years later, hopes to set the record straight. The theory that Day describes in his book revolves around events that were known 50 years ago, but are not as well known today as the Tate murder is. Rather than looking at grudges or hidden messages, this story starts instead with a botched drug deal that took place that July 1.

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The story, as Day tells it in his book, is this: Charles “Tex” Watson was a drug dealer in Los Angeles who lived at Spahn Ranch with Manson and his followers. Watson had stolen money from another dealer, Bernard Crowe. Crowe called Spahn ranch to look for Watson. Charles Manson was put on the line, and Crowe threatened to come kill everyone unless he got his money back. The threat led Manson to go to Crowe’s Hollywood apartment. The two men fought and Manson shot Crowe in the stomach; Manson believed he’d killed Crowe, though he hadn’t.

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Day identifies this moment as a turning point. After, as fear of outsiders and retaliation intensified, Manson warned the ranch residents that the Black Panthers — a group to which he believed Crowe belonged — were going to come after them.

“Manson said, ‘Now we gotta fend for ourselves because the Black Panthers are going to kill us,’” says Day. “At that point, Manson has two problems: First, he’s worried that Black Panthers will take revenge for the drug dealer he believes he’s murdered, and second is that anyone in the group can rat him out. So he comes up with a strategy of saying, if everyone’s willing to commit these violent acts, it will bond us together, and no one can tell on anyone.”

The dynamic of the group further changed, this theory alleges, when Manson invited the motorcycle gang known as the Straight Satans to live on the ranch, to enjoy the female company in exchange for protecting the rest of the group from the Black Panthers. The Straight Satans weren’t the only ones he invited to the ranch for that reason. Another man who came around that time was Bobby Beausoleil, a wannabe biker he’d met via the Topanga Canyon music scene.

Beausoleil told Day that he wanted to impress the Straight Satans, so when they wanted drugs, he volunteered to find some. He got them some mescaline he’d purchased from his friend Gary Hinman, a grad student at UCLA. After the Straight Satans complained that the drugs were bad, Beausoleil tried to get their money back; on July 25, he and Hinman fought and both were injured. Manson was called, and came over with reinforcements. He slashed Hinman’s face with a Confederate sword and fled the scene. Worried that Hinman would call the police, Beausoleil stabbed him to death on July 27.

He then tried to cover his tracks: Beausoleil wrote “Political Piggy” on a wall in blood and later told the police that he had seen the two men who killed Hinman, and that they were black. Mary Brunner, another former Manson family member, told the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. in Dec. 1969 that Beausoleil also drew a black cat paw print on the wall to suggest the Black Panthers had been responsible for the crime.

“I don’t remember a lot of what happened immediately after I killed Gary,” Beausoleil told Day during conversations on the phone from prison. (Beausoleil, who has admitted to the murder, was tried twice and convicted the second time.) “There was a concerted effort to throw off the police and make it look like someone else had done it.”

When Beausoleil was arrested on Aug. 6 outside L.A., Manson worried he might spill the beans about the framed crime scene or what had happened with Bernard Crowe. Manson told Watson to figure out a way to keep things quiet.

Someone at the ranch hatched a plan to replicate a copycat crime scene elsewhere, so police would believe Beausoleil’s story that Hinman’s killer was still on the loose. A spot was chosen: a house on Cielo Drive, apparently one that Watson knew because he had gone to a party Melcher threw there. On Aug. 8, Watson and three female members of the so-called Manson family — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian — headed to the house. Five people were murdered there: Tate, the three people she was hanging out with, and a man who ran into them after visiting the caretaker of the property. “PIG” was written in blood on a wall. The gun Manson used to shoot Crowe was the same gun Watson used that night.

On Aug. 10, they struck again, this time with Manson joining the group at the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Watson stabbed Leno, and he, Krenwinkel and another Manson family member named Leslie Van Houten stabbed Rosemary. Day’s theory is that Manson may have wanted money from Leno, a grocery-store-chain owner who liked to gamble, to pay off the Straight Satans, who were still angry about getting their money back for the bad mescaline.

A few months after Tate’s body was found on Aug. 9, 1969, Charles Manson and several of his followers were arrested for suspected auto theft. One of the Manson family members involved, Susan Atkins, told her cellmates that theft was not the limit of their crimes, and that confession led authorities to connect the group to the murders.

So, while media outlets like TIME reported that Manson had ordered the murders, which was also the timeline that came out in the trial, Manson’s own version was that his followers orchestrated the whole thing, and he was only involved in a passive way.

On Jan. 25, 1971, Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Leslie Van Houten were convicted. They were later sentenced to death, but those sentences were changed to life in prison after California temporarily banned the death penalty in 1972. Later that year, Watson was convicted of the Tate murders, and Manson was also convicted of the murders of Gary Hinman and Donald Shea, a Hollywood stuntman who was killed at Spahn Ranch in late August of 1969. The lead prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi, wrote a 1974 bestseller, and died in 2015. Linda Kasabian was granted immunity for giving testimony. Watson, Beausoleil and Van Houten are still alive and in prison. And there are several other Manson family members who were not involved in the Tate-LaBianca murders, but have talked to the press and done documentaries about life on the ranch, including the upcoming one Day is executive producing, Manson: The Women.

So with all that time talking to Charles Manson, what does Day believe actually happened? He says he thinks Manson’s version is more likely than not pretty close to the truth, but he doesn’t agree with the cult leader’s feeling that the drug-deal story is exculpatory.

“I think there’s no question Manson is culpable for those murders, if not all of them,” Day says he believes. “The murders would not have happened without him.”

Write to Olivia B. Waxman at [email protected]