Sharon Tate called it the house of love, but the residence at 10050 Cielo Drive turned out to be a house of horror. On a hot summer night in August 1969, pregnant actress Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, and Steven Parent were brutally murdered by members of the Manson family.
The tomato red country-style house at 10050 Cielo Drive was built in the forties for French actress Michèle Morgan. The house included a swimming pool, a guesthouse and a barn, which was being converted into a second guesthouse. The house, built on a hill, was similar to the house which was built directly below it, 10048 Cielo Drive, which was nicknamed the Twin House. The properties were built around the same time.
By the end of World War II, Michèle Morgan returned to France and in 1946 actress Lillian Gish moved in to 10050 Cielo Drive with her mother while filming Duel in the Sun. Rudolph Altobelli, a talent manager, bought the house in the early ’60s and started to rent the house out. Residents included celebrities like Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere & the Raiders.
Dennis Wilson and Terry Melcher
In the summer of 1966, Altobelli leased the Cielo Drive house to music producer Terry Melcher and actress Candice Bergen, whose time at the house would set the tragic events of August 9, 1969 into motion.
Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson had befriended Charles Manson. Wilson was impressed by Manson’s charisma and musical talent, and he introduced Manson to producer Terry Melcher and pressed Melcher to land Manson a record deal. Manson auditioned for Melcher, but Melcher was not impressed and declined to sign Manson.
A short time later, Melcher and Bergen abruptly moved out of Cielo Drive. According to Bergen, something spooked Melcher, “Terry wanted to record an album with Charles Manson, then he got spooked, and suddenly we were moving. I was like, in a few months? He said ‘No, tomorrow.’
On February 12, 1969, Roman Polanski and his pregnant wife Sharon Tate signed a lease for the house on 10050 Cielo Drive. They moved in three days later…
The Tate Murders
“It was a night so quiet you could almost hear the sound of ice rattling in cocktail shakers in the homes way down the canyon.”
August 7, 1969. Tate, Folger and Frykowski went to Sebring’s house for dinner. After dinner, which consisted of steak and salad made by Sebring’s butler, the four friends wanted to watch TV, but around 9 p.m. there was a power surge and the TV went out.
Several days after the murders, it was discovered that some wires outside of Sebring’s house had been deliberately cut. When the wires, which looked like phone lines, were cut, it caused a power surge, which in turn caused the floodlights to go on and off. One theory is that the four friends were already targeted for murder on the night of August 7, and that whoever had cut the wires got startled by the power surge.
August 8, 1969 – Sharon’s Last Day Alive
On Sharon’s last day alive, the eight-and-a-half-month pregnant actress had a telephone conversation with her husband, Roman Polanski, who was overseas, she had lunch by the pool with her friends, took a nap and went out for a late dinner. The day began like any other day, but things took a dramatic turn when Manson told four of his followers to go to 10050 Cielo Drive.
Meanwhile, Back At The Manson Family Hangout
August 8, 1969, was not a good day for Charles Manson. He skipped town for a couple of days after his involvement in the Hinman murder. On August 8, around 2 pm, Manson returned to Spahn Ranch, the Manson family hangout. Upon his return to the ranch, he learned that Manson family member Robert Beausoleil had been arrested for the Hinman murder.
Manson, already stressed out after he shot Bernard Crowe, a drug dealer, had turned Spahn Ranch into a fortified camp, complete with machine guns and patrols. Manson thought he killed Crowe, but it turned out Crowe survived. There were rumours that Crowe was a Black Panther, and Manson was in fear of retaliation.
The stress was building up, first, Manson’s dream of a record deal went up in smoke, then the Crowe shooting, then the Hinman murder, and now his friend had been arrested for Hinman’s murder. But his day would get worse.
Later that afternoon, Manson, still upset about the news of Beausoleil’s arrest, gave Mary Brunner and Sandra Good, two of his favorite girls, a couple of stolen credit cards, and told the girls to go to a department store and get some supplies.
Good, almost eight months pregnant at the time, and Brunner, mother of Manson’s son, went to the department store, used the stolen credit cards and got caught. The two girls fled the store and after a car chase the two were apprehended and booked in jail. Things started to unravel…
On the night of August 8, 1969, Manson told Tex Watson to take some of the girls and go to “that house where Melcher used to live” and to “totally destroy everyone inside, as gruesome as you can”. Manson told Watson to “leave a sign, something witchy”.
Charles “Tex” Watson took Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel to Cielo Drive. When they arrived at the entrance of the Cielo Drive property, Watson climbed a telephone pole near the gate and cut the phone line to the house. At this point it was after midnight…
Midnight – August 9, 1969
Headlights approached. Watson told the women to lie in the bushes. He then stepped out and ordered the approaching driver to halt. Eighteen-year-old student Steven Parent had been visiting the property’s caretaker, William Garretson, who lived in the property’s guest house. Watson first lunged at Parent with a knife, giving him a defensive slash wound on the palm of his hand, slashing the strap of his wrist watch. Then Watson shot Parent four times. Parent died instantly.
The sound of the gun shots ricocheted across the valley. It appeared that no one inside the house was alarmed by the four gun shots. The group proceeded to the main house. Watson told Kasabian to keep watch down by the gate. Watson cut the screen of a window and entered through the window into the dining room, and let Atkins and Krenwinkel in through the front door.
The soon to be killers found Frykowski sleeping on the living room couch. Frykowski, who was coming off a ten-day mescaline trip at the time, woke up and mistakenly thought the three people hovering over him were friends of Tate and asked them what time it was. Watson kicked him in the head and pointed a gun at Frykowski. When Frykowski asked Watson who he was and what he was doing there, Watson replied: “I’m the devil, and I’m here to do the devil’s business.”
Atkins and Krenwinkel, armed with Buck knives, model 110, searched the house. Atkins passed by Abigail Folger’s bedroom. Abigail thought Atkins was a friend of Sharon and, looking up from her book, smiled and waved to her, Atkins smiled and waved back. Atkins continued her search and found Tate and Sebring in Tate’s bedroom. Atkins and Krenwinkel then forced Tate, Sebring and Folger to the living room at knifepoint.
Watson tied Tate, Sebring and Folger together by their necks with a rope and slung the remaining piece of rope up over one of the living room’s ceiling beams. Tate began to cry, Watson told her to shut up. Sebring protested the rough treatment of pregnant Tate. Watson then shot Sebring twice and stabbed him seven times.
Frykowski’s hands had been bound, first with a towel, then with a piece of nylon rope. Frykowski managed to free himself and started to struggle with Susan Atkins, who stabbed at his legs with the Buck knife. During the scuffle, Atkins lost her knife, and Frykowski managed to escape through the front door. Watson ran after Frykowski and hit him over the head with the gun. Watson hit him so hard that the butt of the gun broke in half. Watson then shot him twice and repeatedly stabbed Frykowski.
Meanwhile, Kasabian, still standing guard by the gate, heard the horrifying sounds coming from the house, and in an attempt to stop the massacre, she falsely told Atkins that someone was coming up the driveway. Atkins didn’t respond, and the massacre continued.
Folger took advantage of the chaos and tried to escape. She fled out of the bedroom door to the pool area. Krenwinkel ran after Folger, caught her, stabbed her, and tackled her to the ground. Watson joined Krenwinkel, and they stabbed Folger 28 times. In the meantime, Frykowski, barely alive, struggled across the lawn. Watson went over to Frykowski and then stabbed him to death. Frykowski was stabbed a total of 51 times.
Pregnant Tate Was The Last To Die
Back in the house, Tate pleaded to be allowed to live long enough to have her baby, and even offered herself as a hostage in an attempt to save the life of her unborn child.
Susan Atkins told Tate as she begged, “Look, bitch, I don’t care about you. I don’t care if you are having a baby. You are going to die, and I don’t feel a thing about it.” At this point either Atkins, Watson, or both killed Tate. Tate was stabbed 16 times. Watson later wrote that as Tate was being killed, she cried for her mother.
Sharon’s baby died in the womb. Sharon was buried with her unborn son cradled in her arms.
Using the towel that had bound Frykowski’s hands, Atkins wrote “pig” on the house’s front door in Tate’s blood.
In a photo published in Life magazine days after the murders, Roman Polanski sits on the veranda, next to the front door that has been covered with his wife’s blood. According to the photographer, Julian Wasser, Polanski wanted the Polaroid shots to be given to psychic Peter Hurkos to track down the then-unknown killers.
There were several dogs present at the time of the murders in the Cielo Drive house, most notably Sharon’s Dog Prudence. Polanski bought puppy Prudence after Frykowski accidentally ran over and killed Sharon’s Yorkshire terrier Sappy on the driveway of Cielo Drive.
The morning after the murders, Prudence was found hiding in a closet. Prudence was adopted by Sharon Tate’s mother and sister. Unfortunately, 10 years after Sharon was murdered, Prudence was killed in a car accident. Debra Tate, Sharon’s sister, accidentally ran over Prudence in the driveway of her parents house.
Three weeks after the murders, Rudolph Altobelli, the owner of the house, moved in to the Cielo Drive house and lived there for the next 20 years.
“I moved right back into the house three weeks after the murders happened,” Altobelli said. “When I came back to that property, I felt safe, secure, loved and beauty.”
Altobelli reportedly sent Roman Polanski a bill for damages done to the house during the Tate murders.
Altobelli eventually sold the house for $1.6 million, 18 times what he’d paid for it.
Nine Inch Nails “Le Pig” Studio at Cielo Drive
The last resident of the original house was Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Reznor set up a recording studio, dubbed “Pig”, in the house. Reznor moved out of the house in 1993. According to Reznor, “there was too much history in that house for me to handle.” Reznor took the front door of the Cielo Drive house with him when he moved out and installed the door at Nothing Studios, headquarters of his record label, which had been converted from a funeral home.
In 1994, the original house was demolished. A new house was built on the property called Villa Bella, with a new street address of 10066 Cielo Drive. The owner of the property as of 2013 is Hollywood producer Jeff Franklin. During the demolition, several people took artifacts from the house, including pieces of wood, nails and soil. Some of these artifacts were sold on online marketplaces.