10050 Cielo Drive

In 1994 the house at 10050 Cielo Drive was demolished. But the memory of what happened there in the early morning hours of August 9, 1969, endures. Actress Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, and Steven Parent were brutally murdered by members of the Manson Family.

History

The house was built in the late forties for French actress Michèle Morgan. The house was similar to the house which sat on its own plateau directly below 10050, 10048 Cielo Drive, which was called the Twin House. The properties were built at the same time.

By the end of World War II, Michèle Morgan had returned to France and in 1946 actress Lillian Gish moved in 10050 Cielo Drive with her mother while filming Duel in the Sun (1946).

10050 Cielo Drive – 1942

Rudolph Altobelli, a talent manager, bought the house in the early 1960s and often rented the house out. Residents included celebrities like Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere & the Raiders.

Candice Bergen and Terry Melcher

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 Boy 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. After witnessing Manson getting in a fight with a drunk at Spahn Ranch both Wilson and Melcher ended their relationship with Manson.

After ending his friendship with Manson, 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

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“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.”

On Sharon Tate’s last day alive, the eight and a half months pregnant actress had an argument with her unfaithful husband 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 cult-leader Charles Manson told four of his followers to go to 10050 Cielo Drive.

Cielo Drive Entrance

Contrary to popular belief, Terry Melcher and Candice Bergen were never the targets of the August 9 murder spree carried out by Manson’s followers. Manson knew very well that Melcher moved out of Cielo Drive.

On the night of August 8, 1969, Manson told Tex Watson to take some of the girls and to go to “that house where Melcher used to live” and to “totally destroy everyone inside, as gruesome as you can” and Manson told Watson to “leave a sign, something witchy”. 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 prevent telephone access from the house. At this point it was after midnight.

Cielo Drive At Night – Two Months After The Murders – October 1969

Midnight – August 9, 1969

Headlights approached. Watson ordered 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, then shot him four times in the chest and abdomen.

Steven Parent’s Car

The group then 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, and let Atkins and Krenwinkel in through the front door.

Watson Entered Trough This Window

They found Frykowski sleeping on the living room couch. Watson kicked him in the head. When Frykowski asked him 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 searched the house and found Tate, Sebring and Folger and forced them to the living room. Watson began to tie Tate and Sebring together by their necks with rope and slung the rope up over one of the living room’s ceiling beams. Sebring’s protested to the rough treatment of the pregnant Tate. Watson then shot Sebring and stabbed him seven times.

Abigail Folger’s Bedroom. Shortly after midnight, Susan Atkins passed by Abigail’s bedroom. Abigail thought Atkins was a friend of Sharon and, looking up from her book, smiled and waved to her.

Frykowski’s hands had been bound with a towel. Freeing himself, Frykowski began struggling with Atkins, who stabbed at his legs with the knife with which she had been guarding him. As he fought his way toward and out the front door, onto the porch, Watson caught up with Frykowski and struck him over the head with the gun multiple times, stabbed him repeatedly, and shot him twice.

Around this time, Kasabian was drawn up from the driveway by “horrifying sounds”. In an effort to stop the massacre, she falsely told Atkins that someone was coming.

Abigail Folger’s Escape Route

Meanwhile, Folger had escaped from Krenwinkel and fled out a 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.

Tate Master Bedroom Cielo Drive

Pregnant Tate Was The Last To Die

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 (testimonies vary). Tate was stabbed 16 times. Watson later wrote that as Tate was being killed, she cried for her mother.

Using the towel that had bound Frykowski’s hands, Atkins wrote “pig” on the house’s front door in Tate’s blood.

Roman Polanski at Cielo Drive

Roman Polanski

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 a psychic to track down the then-unknown killers.

Prudence

There were several dogs present at the time of the murders in the Cielo Drive house, most notably Sharon’s Dog Prudence. Roman Polanski bought puppy Prudence for Sharon after Wojciech Frykowski accidentally ran over 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.

Altobelli (center)

Rudolph Altobelli

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.

Le Pig Studio at Cielo Drive

Nine Inch Nails “Le Pig” Studio at Cielo Drive

The last resident of the original house was Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Reznor began renting the house in 1992 for a reported $11,000 a month, and set up a recording studio in the house.

The studio, dubbed “Pig”, a reference to Susan Atkins writing “Pig” in Tate’s blood on the front door of the house, was the site of recording sessions for most of the Nine Inch Nails album The Downward Spiral.

Reznor moved out of the house in December 1993, explaining “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 it at the New Orleans headquarters of his record label, Nothing Studios, which had been converted from a funeral home.

Demolition of Cielo Drive

Demolition

In 1994, the original house was demolished. A new house was build 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.

Dennis Wilson’s House

14400 Sunset Boulevard was Dennis Wilson’s home in the late 1960s. Wilson hosted the Manson Family here for a summer to great expense.

Formerly the hunting lodge of Will Rogers, the three-acred estate at 14400 Sunset Boulevard was surrounded with manicure lawns and a swimming pool in the shape of the state of California.

In 1968 Dennis Wilson picked up two hitchhikers, Patricia Krenwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey and took them to his home at 14400 Sunset Boulevard. Dennis later went to a recording session.

When he returned around 3 a.m. he was met in his driveway by Charles Manson. Wilson asked “are you going to hurt me?” Manson replied, “Do I look like I’m going to hurt you, brother?” Manson then dropped to his knees and kissed Wilson’s feet.

Dennis became fascinated by Manson and his followers. The Manson Family lived with Dennis for a period of time. The Manson girls cleaned the house, shopped and cooked.

At night they provided Wilson with sexual entertainment but Wilson soon put a stop to this. A lot of the Manson girls had a number of venereal diseases and Wilson took all the girls to his doctor for penicillin shots. Susan Atkins teeth needed to be fixed and Wilson paid the dentist bill.

The Family ended up costing Dennis up to $100,000, today that would be around $700,000. Most of the money was spent on car repair bills, clothes, food and penicillin shots. When Wilson finally had enough of Manson’s freeloading Wilson simply moved out of his own house.

After the murders in the summer of 1969, Wilson commented, “I’m the luckiest guy in the world, because i got off only losing my money.”

Charles Manson made the news even before the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders. Here’s Beach Boy Dennis Wilson talking about Charles Manson and the family girls in an interview in 1968, a year before the murders.

“I told them about our involvement with the Maharishi and they told me they too had a guru, a guy named Charlie who’d recently come out of jail after 12 years. His mother was a hooker, his father was a gangster, he’d drifted into crime when I met him I found he had great musical ideas. We’re writing together now. He’s dumb, in some ways, but I accept his approach and have learnt from him. He taught me a dance. The Inhibition. You have to imagine you’re a frozen man and the ice is thawing out. Start with your fingertips, then all the rest of you, then you extend it to a feeling that the whole universe is thawing out.”

The Barker ranch

The Barker Ranch is located inside Death Valley National Park in eastern California. Used as a mining and recreational property from the 1940s to the 1960s, it is infamous due to its association with Manson and his Family.

The Barker Ranch was built in the 1930’s by Butch and Helen Thomason. Looking for Gold they left the city to mine in the Panamint Range. Often times homesteaders during the early 20th century would move to the desert for the dry air, solitude, and pleasant winter weather.

Sometime during the 1950’s the Thomason’s sold the ranch to Arlene Barker who moved to California from Oklahoma. The Barkers added additional structures to the ranch property. This included a concrete swimming pool, fences, and an array of other comforts.

In 1968, Charles Manson learned about the isolated Myers Ranch from Gillies. Agreeing that the ranch would likely meet their needs, the Manson Family began a move to the ranch.

The buildings at Barker Ranch being in better condition, the Family ended up at Barker Ranch, approximately half a mile down the road from Myers Ranch.

The Inyo County sheriff department, captured the Manson Family in raids on October 10 and October 12, 1969. Manson was caught hiding under the bathroom sink.

At the time of the arrest the cops were unaware of the magnitude of their find. They wanted to arrest the persons responsible for vandalism within Death Valley National Monument further north, unaware that they had arrested the persons responsible for the Tate/Labianca murders.

Due to a fire in May 2009, most of the main structure has been destroyed with only the concrete and rock portion of the cabin still standing. Today the remnants of the ranch belong to National Park Service.

Spahn’s Movie Ranch

Spahn Ranch, built in 1920, also known as Spahn’s Movie Ranch, was a ranch used for filming Western movies and TV-shows. Episodes for Bonanza, The Lone Ranger, and Zorro were filmed at Spahn’s Ranch.

Spahn Movie Ranch was the home of the Manson Family during the Tate/LaBianca murders. In late 1969, Robert Hendrickson filmed the Manson Family at Spahn Ranch for his Oscar nominated documentary Manson.

By 1968, when Charles Manson arrived at the ranch, George Spahn was 80 years old and nearly blind. Spahn allowed out-of-work stuntmen and ranch hands to live on the property in return for labor.

Manson and his followers fit right in and did chores and helped run the horse-rental business, George Spahn primarily made money by renting horse rides through the property.

But at the ranch several ranch hands disapproved of the new tenants, repeatedly warning Spahn about Manson. A ranch hand named Donald “Shorty” Shea, would eventually be killed by members of the family.

Manson Family Spahn Ranch Raid 7

Raid

On August 16, 1969, around 6:00 am, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department raided Spahn Ranch. They were looking for stolen cars not knowing they had the Tate/LaBianca killers in reach.

The sheriff’s report states they found Manson hiding beneath the building marked “Saloon”. Manson was laying face down in the dirt between the foundation timbers.

As he crawled out and stood up a stolen credit card fell out of his pocket. Manson and most of the family members were arrested and booked at the Malibu police station.

Police also seized and impounded vehicles at the property, mostly VW dune buggies, a couple of motorcycles and, most importantly, a 1959 Ford (registration plate GYY 435). The Ford had provided transportation for the Tate and La Bianca murders.

Spahn Ranch After The Fire

Wildfire

In September, 1970, a wildfire destroyed all of Spahn Movie Ranch’s sets and structures. After the fire, George Spahn moved back to North Hollywood, to live with the wife he had left years before. Today the site is part of California’s Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park.

windy-bucklee-spahn-ranch

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino recreated Spahn Ranch for the movie Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Burt Reynolds was originally cast as George Spahn, but he passed away weeks before he was scheduled to shoot his scenes.

The film was originally scheduled to be released on August 9, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Tate murders, before Sony changed the release date to July 26, 2019.

Related: Donald “Shorty” Shea Murder

Myers Ranch

Myers Ranch was built in 1932 by Bill and Barbara Myers, Catherine Gillies’ grandparents. The Myers lived on the ranch until 1960 when they relocated to Fresno so that their children could have a better education.

The ranch was built of wood ties from the Searles Lake monorail. The Myers ran a gas and food stop called Wild rose Station.

In 1968, Charles Manson learned about the isolated Myers Ranch from Gillies. Agreeing that the ranch would likely meet their needs, the Manson Family began a move to the ranch.

The buildings at Barker Ranch being in better condition, the Family ended up at Barker Ranch, approximately half a mile down the road from Myers Ranch. At times, the Family members were using both Barker and Myers ranch.

Myers Ranch burned down in 1999. The property has been completely reconstructed. Today it remains a private, occupied residence, unavailable for public visitation.