After filming a few “small but crucial” roles in London, Sharon Tate decided to stay. Her world revolved around the London fashion scene, making movies, and night clubs.
She should have stayed there. It was much safer. But, she met Roman Polanski about the same time, and her life took a new track, one that would lead to her murder by a madman.
Tate and Polanski weren’t all that impressed with one another at first.
He must have been blind!
But, apparently, while filming “The Fearless Vampire Killers”, they fell in love, and were married in Chelsea, London shortly after the film wrapped.
Since they were non-traditional, it only seemed fair that the wedding be. He was dressed in Edwardian finery, and she wore a white mini-dress.
It was the 60s, minis were in, and Carnaby Street was all about ruffles for men – hence, the Edwardian look.
In the meantime, Sharon rose to starletdom in “The Valley of The Dolls”, the film version of the Jackie Suzanne novel of the same name. It was a huge hit regardless of the beating it took from the critics. Ironic only because the screenplay was written by a critic, Roger Ebert. Hmmm.
The rest of the story isn’t so great. They were very much in love. Polanski was ‘odd’ to say the least, as time would tell. Tate wanted a ‘traditional’ marriage. You know, get married, stay married, stay faithful – for all the mini-dresses, hip clothes, and modern attitudes – Sharon was a traditional girl. Roman on the other hand was promiscuous and referred to her desire for monogamy as “Sharon’s big hang-UP!”
UPon their move to LA, they rented a house on Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon. The home was owned by Terry Melcher, Doris Day’s son, Candice Bergen’s boyfriend, and a music producer, who associated with supremely stoned people and had met a very strange man named Charles Manson.
Manson, a mad-man and cult leader was trying to start a race war in the US – like that wasn’t already happening in 1968 – and was planning ‘events’ to ignite the flame.
He sent his ‘family’ to the Cielo Drive address intending to kill Melcher. But, Melcher had moved. Sharon Tate and friends were there, as Tate had returned from London early on the QE2. Roman was due home in a couple of weeks, or just in time for the birth of their child.
Tate and her friends, Jay Sebring –
a famous hair stylist and former boyfriend of Tate,Abby Folger – current main squeeze of Sebring, and a coffee heiress,
and Wojciech Frykowski – an actor and former boyfriend of Folger –
confused yet? – went to dinner at El Coyote, her favorite restaurant, and after arriving home, Manson’s family entered the house killed Tate, Folger, Sebring, and Frykowski.
Tate was stabbed 17 times, five of them were ‘fatal wounds’. Frykowski was shot twice, hit over the head with a blunt object 15 times, and stabbed 51 times – fighting back the entire time.
Meanwhile, Polanski was in Europe. After hearing of Sharon’s murder he raced home to LA. He sat beside the doorway of the rented home where his wife was murdered and posed for a picture next to the word “Pig” written in her blood. He said he was trying to shock someone into coming forward and telling the world what had happened.
Like I said, he was ‘odd’.
Of course, Manson and his ‘family’ were arrested, charged, tried, and imprisoned.
Polanski went on to fame and infamy with his films and sexual peccadilloes. He remains a fugitive from American justice, but is considered a Free Man in his home country of France.
There is no doubt that Polanski loved Sharon Tate – in his own way.
But, that’s not the only love story here. Doris Tate, Sharon’s mother became an advocate for victim’s rights and spent most of her time fighting the parole of the Manson family members. She worked to make the American public aware of the problems with the corrections systems in the US, and was instrumental in helping to change victim’s rights laws in California and other states.
She died in 1992, honored by Presidents and Governors and victims of crime for her work. She never let go of the love for her daughter, Sharon, who was loved by an odd man and murdered by a mad man.