Sharon Tate, 26 and a successful actress, was killed by cult leader Charles Manson’s followers along with four others, in a horrifying stabbing at her residence in California’s Benedict Canyon, on 9th August 1969, so that was 50 years back.
The successful actress was married to now-disgraced director Roman Polanski and was also just about to give birth, being 8.5 months pregnant with their first child. Manson, who was evil personified, was arrested for the 1969 murders of Tate and others, and died in 2017, aged 83 while he was serving his life sentence in Corcoran State Prison, California.
HOW TATE GOT HER START
Tate began her career in Italy as an extra in movies. Returning to the United States in 1962, she shifted to LA and signed a seven-year contract with the director of Filmways Inc., Martin Ransohoff. She had small roles in the TV series Mister Ed and The Beverly Hillbillies but in late 1965, Martin offered Sharon her first major break, in the movie Eye of the Devil. Soon enough, she met filmmaker Roman, who cast her in his movie The Fearless Vampire Killers. Their close association led to a relationship which developed throughout the production, and Tate moved into the director’s London apartment, right after the film was shelved. The couple married in London on January 20, 1968, and returned to LA Critics praised her comic performance in ‘The Wrecking Crew’, and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her Valley of the Dolls performance.
LIFE WAS GOOD UNTIL THAT FATEFUL NIGHT…
Tate became pregnant by the time 1968 ended, and during February 1969 the duo moved to their new home that earlier belonged to Candice Bergen. Polanski was working in London on The Day of the Dolphin, and asked their friends Folger and Frykowski to stay at their new house with his heavily pregnant wife.
The last time when the actress’s family saw her, her sister Debra recalled their mother asking the actress if she wanted anything. Tate looked down at her belly and smiled saying that she had everything she needed. On the evening of August 8, 1969, Tate had dinner at her favorite joint, El Coyote, with friends and returned to be slaughtered by Manson’s followers after midnight. The bodies were discovered the next morning and Tate was stabbed 16 times and her stomach was carved with an ‘X’. The murders were executed as a part of Manson’s disgusting plan to commence a race war called ‘Helter Skelter.’
Debra Tate called their father, Col. Paul Tate, to inform him of what had happened. Paul was just about to retire after serving the US Army for 23 years. Debra said her sister’s horrific murder was the defining moment of her life and as long as she was alive she would prevent any parole for Tate’s murderers who were neither the devil nor supernatural. They were just little creeps. Sharon’s mother, Doris Tate spent most of her life advocating for victims’ rights and helped pass the Victims’ Bill of Rights in California in 1982, that allowed victim impact statements in court.
PORTRAYAL IN TARANTINO’S MOVIE
Sharon Tate is played by Australian actress Margot Robbie in the Quentin Tarantino film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Debra, Sharon’s sister recalled being very affected by hearing and seeing Robbie play the character of her sister, when she paid a visit to the movie’s set. Sharon’s sister approved of her sister’s portrayal by Robbie but wishes Tarantino had dedicated more attention to Tate.