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Remembering Sharon Tate

Sharon Tate book

A new book “Sharon Tate: Recollection” is due to be released from Running Press on June 10. This latest work about the slain 1960s screen siren was written by her sister Debra Tate with a foreword penned by her husband filmmaker Roman Polanski. In having to revisit his wife’s untimely death, Polanski wrote: “Even after 40 years, it is difficult to write about Sharon. It is impossible, of course, to imagine what might have been if Sharon had lived. But this book allows me to remember what was.” Included in the book are childhood photos and essays written by Michelle Phillips, Jane Fonda, Kelly Osbourne and others.

Born Sharon Marie Tate in Dallas, Texas in 1943, the actress was the eldest child of U.S. Army Colonel Paul Tate and Doris Willett Tate. During the 1960s, Tate appeared in several television programs including: “Mister Ed,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and 15 episodes of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” No stranger to the big screen either, perhaps she’s best known for her prominent role in the Jacqueline Susann’s best-selling novel turned movie “Valley of the Dolls.” Sadly, it would be Tate’s murder which cemented hers a household name.

Tate and Polanski married in January 1968. Although Polanski spent a great deal of time overseas the couple was still very much a part of Hollywood’s hip social circle. Among their list of friends were: Warren Beatty, Joan Collins, Mia Farrow, Jane Fonda, Peter Fonda, Steve McQueen, Peter Sellers, Jim Morrison, Candice Bergen and her boyfriend, record producer and son of Doris Day, Terry Melcher. It would be at the home located on 10050 Cielo Drive which was previously occupied by Melcher where the sex symbol would draw her last breath.

On August 9, 1969, Tate, who was two weeks away from delivering her first child, and friends were brutally slaughtered by members of the infamous Charles Manson family. Among those killed were: coffee heiress Abigail Folger, international playboy Wojtek Frykowski, housekeeper Winifred Chapman, 18-year-old Steven Parent who was leaving after visiting a pal who was a caretaker of the estate and long-time friend, Jay Sebring. It is said that Sebring had once wanted to marry Tate. Although hurt and disappointed she married Polanski, the two remained friends.

The Tate-Labianca murders gripped a nation, which was not de-sensitized by such horrors back then. Tension and fear had a particular hold on those living in Hollywood. Children were sent out of town, guards were hired and its’ reported that the late actor Steve McQueen even took a gun with him when he attended Jay Sebring’s funeral.

Ironically, Tate once told a journalist during an interview, “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.”

Sharon Tate is buried alongside her unborn son Paul, mother Doris, and sister Pattie at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.

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