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Remembering Sharon Tate on 45th anniversary of Manson family murder spree

In the very early hours of August 9, 1969, actress Sharon Tate was horrifically murdered along with 4 others, in a brutal crime orchestrated by cult leader Charles Manson and carried-out by his followers - a group that came to be known and feared around the world as “the Manson Family.”

Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski on their wedding day, January 20, 1968.
Photo Courtesy The Hollywood Archive

Sharon Tate, then 26, was poised for stardom and had appeared in several Hollywood films, including “Don’t Make Waves” with Tony Curtis, “The Wrecking Crew” with Dean Martin, and the 1967 cult hit “Valley of the Dolls” for which she earned a Golden Globe Nomination. The actress had recently married acclaimed director Roman Polanski, whom she met when he directed her in the 1967 horror spoof “The Fearless Vampire Killers.” They were married in Chelsea, London on January 20, 1968 with considerable publicity. Polanski was dressed in what the press described as "Edwardian finery", while Tate was attired in a white mini-dress.

On the evening of August 8, 1969, Tate went to her favorite restaurant, El Coyote, with Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski and Abigail Folger, returning at about 10:30 p.m. to the rented house at 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles’ Benedict Canyon, just north of Beverly Hills.

During the night, and at Manson's directive, they were murdered by members of Manson's "family" and their bodies were discovered the following morning by Tate's housekeeper, Winifred Chapman. Police arrived at the scene to find the body of a young man, later identified as Steven Parent, shot dead in his car, which was in the driveway. 18-year-old Parent, had been visiting a friend who worked as the Polanski estate’s caretaker and lived in a guest house some distance from the main dwelling. Inside the house, the bodies of Tate and Sebring were found in the living room, a long rope tied around each of their necks connected them. On the front lawn lay the bodies of Frykowski and Folger. All of the victims, except Parent, had been stabbed numerous times. The coroner's report for Tate noted that she had been stabbed sixteen times, and that "five of the wounds were in and of themselves fatal.

Polanski was informed of the murders and quickly returned to Los Angeles where police, unable to determine a motive, questioned him about his wife and friends. On Wednesday, August 13, Tate was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, with her son, Paul Richard Polanski (named posthumously for Polanski's and Tate's fathers).

The gruesome crime, in which the killers scrawled messages on the walls with the victims’ own blood, sent Hollywood into a state of panic and fear. The career criminal and cult leader Charles Manson and his followers, who lived together on the outskirts of L.A. in a commune where drug use and orgies were common, were later convicted for the murders.

The Tate-Polanski home reportedly was chosen as a target because Manson had unsuccessfully attempted to get a recording deal from a producer who used to live there. Manson’s subsequent trial became a national spectacle, during which he exhibited bizarre and violent behavior. He was convicted and given the death penalty, a sentence that was commuted to life behind bars when the California Supreme Court overturned the death penalty law in 1972. Since his trial, Manson has become a criminal icon and the subject of numerous books and films, notably the bestselling 1974 true crime book Helter Skelter, co-authored by Vincent Bugliosi, the Los Angeles County assistant district attorney who successfully prosecuted Manson and his followers.

Sharon Tate Trivia per IMDB:

Was originally cast in the role of "Billie Jo" on "Petticoat Junction", but she walked away from the show on advice from her manager (Martin Ransohoff). He didn't feel it was a good launching pad for her career.

The Barbie Doll "Malibu Barbie" was created based on Sharon Tate's character in "Don't Make Waves".

Drove a 1967 red Ferrari with tags # VMP659.

In 1959 she was the winner of 5 different beauty pageants: Miss Frontier Days, Miss Richland, Miss Tri-Cities, Miss Water Follies, and Miss Auto-Rama.

Sharon became close friends with her "Valley of the Dolls" costars, Patty Duke and Barbara Parkins. Parkins later served as Sharon's Maid of Honor when she married Roman Polanski in 1968.

Last book she read was Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" which she convinced Roman Polanski would make a great film one day. Polanski's film "Tess" is dedicated simply "For Sharon".

Her character, 'Freya Carlson', in "The Wrecking Crew" was the inspiration for 'Felicity Shagwell' in "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me".

Was a friend of actresses Julie Christie, Jacqueline Bisset and Mia Farrow

The house at 10050 Cielo Drive, rented by Tate and Roman Polanski at the time of the murders, was demolished in 1994. An Italian-style mansion has been erected in its place and the street address has been changed. The new mansion was originally priced at $12.5 million in an attempt to cash in on the locations notoriety but no sale was made

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