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The tragic death of Sharon Tate who was killed by the Manson Family

Tijana Radeska

The destiny of Sharon Tate is so tragic that after almost half a century it is still hard to understand what exactly happened on the evening of 9th August 1969 when only two weeks away from giving childbirth, she was brutally killed by members of the Menson’s family.

Sharon Marie Tate Polanski was an American model and actress from the 1970’s, who amazed the audience with her beauty and acting. She was hailed as one of Holywood’s most promising newcomers. Before becoming a Holywood’s sweetheart, Tate played small roles on television and was regularly featured in fashion magazines as a model or a cover girl.

Sharon Tate, 1969  Photo credit

Sharon Tate, 1969  Photo credit

 

Sharon Tate by Ellen Graham-1969  Photo credit

Sharon Tate by Ellen Graham-1969  Photo credit

 

Sharon Tate Photo credit

Sharon Tate Photo credit

In 1966, Tate made her film debut in the occult-themed Eye of the Devil. The next year, she received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance as Jennifer North in the cult classic film Valley of the Dolls. In 1967, Sharon met Roman Polanski, her co-star, and director of  The Fearless Vampire Killers, and married him in 1968. She also received top billing for her performance in her last completed film “12+1” which was posthumously released in 1969.

Tate and Polanski were young, talented, and a charismatic couple whose company was desired in the circles of the successful young artists in the music and film industry. Photographer Peter Evans later described them as “the imperfect couple. They were the Douglas Fairbanks/Mary Pickford of our time … Cool, nomadic, talented and nicely shocking.” Holywood lost more than just a promising actress that evening on 9th August.

Cropped screenshot of Sharon Tate from the trailer for the film Eye of the Devil

Cropped screenshot of Sharon Tate from the trailer for the film Eye of the Devil

 

Photo of actress Sharon Tate from the 1967 film Valley of the Dolls

Photo of actress Sharon Tate from the 1967 film Valley of the Dolls

 

Sharon Tate (at right wearing a dark wig) as Janet Trego in the 1964 Giant Jackrabbit episode of The Beverly Hillbillies with Max Baer, Jr. and Nancy Kulp

Sharon Tate (at right wearing a dark wig) as Janet Trego in the 1964 Giant Jackrabbit episode of The Beverly Hillbillies with Max Baer, Jr. and Nancy Kulp

On the 8th August 1969, while Tate was eight and half months pregnant, she had lunch with two friends, the actresses Barbara Lewis and Joanna Pettet. Polanski was in London at the moment, and his return was delayed.

Sharon confided her disappointment about her husband’s delayed return to her friends. In the afternoon, Polanski called to check how she feels and also did her sister, Debra, who wanted to spend the night with Sharon and their other sister Patti. Tate delayed that invitation for another day.

In the evening she had a dinner at “El Coyote,” her favorite restaurant, with her friends Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, and Jay Sebring and at about 10:30 p.m. they all returned to Tate’s house. That evening, shortly after midnight, all of them were murdered by members of Charles Manosn’s “family,” and the next morning their bodies were discovered by Tate’s housekeeper, Winifred Chapman.

When the police arrived at Tate and Polanski’s home, they found the body of a young man in his car, on the driveway. He was later identified as Steven Parent, a student and hi-fi enthusiast. Inside the house, the police found a real horror. On the front lawn laid the bodies of the aspiring screenwriter Frykowski and his lover Abigail Folger. In the living room were found the bodies of Tate and Sebring connected with a long rope tied around each of their necks.

 

 

Charles Manson

Charles Manson

 

Charles (Tex) Watson on a mugshot in 1971; taken in a Californian prison

Charles (Tex) Watson on a mugshot in 1971; taken in a Californian prison

 

Mugshot taken of Susan Atkins, taken 16th February 2001

Mugshot taken of Susan Atkins, taken 16th February 2001

All of the victims, except for Parent’s, had been stabbed numerous times. In Tate’s corner’s report was noted that she had been stabbed sixteen times and that “five of the wounds were in and of themselves fatal.” On Tate’s belly inscribed in blood was the word “PIG.”

On the 8th of August, 1969, on the other side, Patricia Krenwinkel, Linda Kasabian, and Susan Atkins were “chosen” by Tex Watson who took them to “that house where Melcher used to live” and told them to “totally destroy everyone in [it], as gruesome as you can.” Women were told by Manson to act according to Watson’s instructions. When all of them arrived at the entrance of the property, Watson climbed a telephone pole and cut the telephone line. Just after midnight, when they decided to enter the house, the headlights of a car approached.

 

Sharon Tate, 1969. Photo by Terry O’Neil Photo credit

Sharon Tate, 1969. Photo by Terry O’Neil Photo credit

It was the 18-year-old Steven Parent, who had been visiting the property’s caretaker, William Garretson, to halt. Just an unlucky coincidence, despite all his begging, Watson shot Parent dead. After that, the murders cut the screen of a window of Tate’s house and entered inside. As the “murder chief” whispered something to Atkins, Frykowski awoke, and Watson kicked him in the head. When the screenwriter asked him who he is and what is he doing, Watson replied: “I’m the devil, and I’m here to do the devil’s business.”

Indeed, “the family” did the devil’s business. When they returned to their home, Manson told them to “leave a sign … something witchy”. Using a bloody towel, Atkins wrote the word “PIG” in Tate’s blood, on the front door of the house. The members of the Manson’s family were arrested three days later, on the 12th August.

Tate family grave  Photo credit

Tate family grave  Photo credit

If you wonder “Why Tate”? Only because on the 23rd March 1969, Manson visited the property which he knew as Melcher’s residence. But as of that February, the tenants in the house were Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate. However, Manson decided to destroy everything in it, including a woman who was eight and a half months pregnant.

Read another story from us: Isadora Duncan – The inventor of American modern dance died tragically when her long scarf became entangled around the rear axle of the car she was riding in

Peter Evans later quoted the actor Laurence Harvey, who commented on Polanski immediately after the murders, “This could destroy Roman. Marriage vows mean nothing to him but few men have adored a woman as much as he adored Sharon.”