“Many people from Los Angeles say the 60s ended on August 9, 1969,” once said writer Joan Didion. That day, the criminal gang of Charles Manson committed a brutal murder on Cielo Drive – the street where Hollywood actors and directors lived, among whom were Roman Polanski and his wife Sharon Tate. Just then Polanski shot the cult horror “Rosemary's Baby” and was preparing to conquer Hollywood, winning the title of one of the main directors of his era.
Sharon was brutally murdered in the 8th month of pregnancy, thereby ending the carefree era of freedom and love. The story became the basis of Quentin Tarantino’s new film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” with Margot Robbie, as well as the biographical thriller The Haunting of Sharon Tate, where Hilary Duff played the actress. We tell what happened in August 1969 and why the Sharon murder forever changed Hollywood.
Who is Sharon Tate
Besides the fact that Sharon was Polanski's wife and promising actress, we remember almost nothing. Her tragic death even crossed out the little that she managed to achieve in 26 years. Sharon participated in beauty contests (the first she won at the age of only 6 months), starred for the covers of gloss, and then in episodic roles for television.
In all 13 films where Sharon managed to star, she played a beautiful girl (in the credits of one of them she was signed – beautiful girl). The very image that she received since the time of children's beauty contests prevented her from playing more serious roles. Tate’s breakthrough was “Puppet Valley”, where she played a desperate actress who starred in French erotic films, and then makes an abortion and dies from an overdose of sleeping pills. A lot of drama – which means a lot of media attention and film producers.
Sharon in the movie “Valley of the Puppets”, 1967
Sharon and Roman Polanski
She met Polanski on the set. At the end of 1965, Sharon got her first prominent role in the horror “Eye of the Devil”, where she played a witch. Then she met with Jay Sebring (who also appears in the film Tarantino) – a hairdresser, a former sailor who made Tate an offer. She refused him, explaining that marriage would interfere with her movie career. And then Polanski appears – the Polish director who conquered Hollywood. They got married in 1968 and immediately moved to Cielo Drive.
Sharon's wedding outfit was cult for the 60s: she married Polanski with flowers in her hair and a short a-line dress with voluminous shoulders from the Alba brand
While Roman was striving for heights in American cinema, Sharon had their first child and enjoyed the freedom of Los Angeles of the 60s. Many residents of the city, including Tarantino himself, said that until the summer of 1969 they didn’t lock the door, but trust and understanding reigned in the city itself. Her murder was not just another atrocious crime – it was the end of the hippie era, whose carelessness and love for pills led to serious consequences.
The details of the crime are rather creepy: Sharon, along with Abigail Folger, screenwriter Wojciech Frikowski and Jay Sebring, who had by then made friends with Roman and became her best friend, were stabbed to death in a house on Cielo Drive. Sharon begged the criminals to save the life of her child, but this did not stop them. On the front door, the word pig was written in blood with Sharon, and Life magazine even took a creepy picture where Roman is sitting against the background of this door. Sharon received 16 stab wounds and was buried in a closed coffin, with a child in her arms.
Left: Roman Polanski at the crime scene, August 9, 1969. Right: Sharon's last shot, August 6, 1969
The case became one of the most scandalous in the history of Hollywood: film industry workers actively left the city, hired security guards and set an alarm. At first, the 19-year-old housekeeper was charged with the crime, and Polanski himself suffered from paranoia and suspected his friends. Later it turned out that the murder was committed by members of the “family” of Charles Manson.
Who is Charles Manson
Here Tarantino did not embellish anything: as in the film, the clan of Charles Manson, a serial killer and pimp, really lived on an abandoned ranch near Los Angeles. Westerns were filmed here in the 1920s, and when the genre fell into decay, Charles arranged with his owner for free accommodation in return for care and sexual services from members of his “family”. At first, Manson and his followers practiced free love and life under the action of all kinds of pills, and then they began to kill.
Charles Manson at the murder hearing, December 1969
Why was Sharon killed?
This is still a mystery. Tarantino himself is inclined to the first version: Manson asked to kill everyone who lived in the former house of Terry Melcher – a producer who refused to cooperate with him. Probably the day before, Manson came to Polanski’s house and from the director himself found out that Melcher was no longer living there, and even received valuable instructions on where to find him.
The second version says that Manson was planning to start an interracial war and for this he forced his followers to kill “a couple of white people”. He believed that The Beatles' White Album contained hidden messages calling for war, and named his ideology after the song Helter Skelter. Around that time, everyone began to say that pop culture made brutal killers of adolescents.
60s style icon
Sharon never managed to become a great actress – the peak of her career was the Golden Globe nomination for her role in Doll Valley. The style of the heroines of the film and Sharon herself was inspired by Jeremy Scott in the 2017 spring collection – fluffy hairstyles, trapezoid dresses and a mini length paired with high boots.
Moschino SS 2017
Unlike the movie, Sharon quickly gained recognition in the fashion world: in her youth, she worked as a model in Italy, and then collaborated with British designers: Betsy Johnson, Thea Porter, Ozzy Clark and William Travilla, who called her his muse and worked on costumes in “Valley of the Dolls”.
Sharon was the epitome of a freedom-loving West Coast girl: big arrows, flowered dresses, and no shoes. She could walk barefoot through the streets of Los Angeles, and tied leather ribbons imitating sandals to her feet to go to a restaurant so as not to violate the dress code.
Despite the fact that Sharon was a classic Hollywood beauty, her hippie style looked just as good as Dior’s dresses with a neckline (like what she wore for the premiere of “Rosemary's Baby”).
Even 50 years after her death, she is called an icon of the 60s style, and the designers, by her will and not quite, copy her iconic images (for example, a Paco Rabanne metal top or images with a yellow dress and latex skirt).
See also: Instagram of the day: The first catwoman, actress Julie Newmar