Sharon Tate was a beautiful and talented young actress who had everything going for her until her life was cut short by members of the Manson Family.
Early Life and Career
During the ’60s Tate played small television roles before appearing in films and was regularly featured in fashion magazines as a model and cover girl.
After receiving positive reviews for her comedic and dramatic acting performances, Tate was hailed as one of Hollywood’s most promising newcomers.
Tate’s early life was one of constant moving as her father served in the military. When she lived in Italy, she was voted Homecoming Queen of her high school.
After being an extra in a few Italian films, Sharon moved to Hollywood. Her first big break came when she was cast as the shapely bank secretary in the television series The Beverly Hillbillies.
She made her film debut in 1961 in Barabbas. She was seen next in 1966 with the occult-themed Eye of the Devil. Her most remembered performance was in the 1967 cult classic, Valley of the Dolls. Tate’s last film, Twelve Plus One , was released posthumously in 1969.
Tate became close friends with her Valley of the Dolls costars, Patty Duke and Barbara Parkins. Parkins later served as Sharon’s Maid of Honor when she married Roman Polanski in 1968.
The Barbie Doll Malibu Barbie was based on Sharon Tate’s character in Don’t Make Waves (1967).
Sharon was introduced to Jay Sebring at a party in Los Angeles in 1964. They fell in love and started dating. The relationship lasted for about two years.
Sharon went to London in 1966 to work on The Fearless Vampire Killers with director Roman Polanski. Polanski wrote in his autobiography that the two bonded during an LSD trip one night, and by dawn, they were in love.
Sharon ended her relationship with Sebring over the phone. Sebring immediately traveled to London to win her back, however Sharon decided to be with Polanski. Eventually Sebring and Polanski became friends.
After Sebring and Sharon parted as a couple they continued to see each other as close friends. It was no secret that Sebring was still in love with Sharon and he stayed in love with her until the day he died.
On January 20, 1968, Sharon married Roman Polanski in London. The star-studded wedding was followed by a reception at the Playboy club, a Supreme’s concert, and a honeymoon in the Alps.
While Sharon reportedly wanted a traditional marriage, Polanski remained promiscuous and described Tate’s attitude to his infidelity as “Sharon’s big hang-up”. Polanski was never faithful to Sharon. Not when they were dating, and not after they were married.
He reminded her that she had promised that she would not try to change him. Sharon accepted Polanski’s conditions, though she confided to friends that she hoped he would change. Peter Evans quoted Sharon as saying, “We have a good arrangement. Roman lies to me and I pretend to believe him.”
The couple returned to Los Angeles and quickly became part of a social group that included some of the most successful people in the entertainment industry, including record producer Terry Melcher and his girlfriend, actress Candice Bergen.
10050 Cielo Drive
Sharon became pregnant near the end of 1968. On February 12, 1969, Polanski and Tate signed a lease for the house on 10050 Cielo Drive. They moved in three days later.The house previously had been occupied by their friends Terry Melcher and Candice Bergen.
In March of 1969, Sharon flew to Italy to film Twelve Plus One. After completing the movie, she joined Polanski in London.
A journalist asked Sharon in a late July interview if she believed in fate, to which she replied, “Certainly. My whole life has been decided by fate. I think something more powerful than we are decides our fates for us. I know one thing — I’ve never planned anything that ever happened to me.”
When Sharon returned from London, Polanski, who was still in Europe, asked Wojciech Frykowski if he and Abigail Folger would stick around until Polanski came back from Europe. Abigail and Wojciech decided to stay with Sharon at the Cielo Drive residence, who was in the eighth month of her pregnancy.
August 8, 1969
On August 8, 1969, Tate was two weeks from giving birth. Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Wojciech and Abigail Folger went to dinner at El Coyote, a Mexican restaurant. After diner the four returned to Cielo Drive. Wojciech fell asleep on the living room couch, Abigail retired to her bedroom to read a book, while Jay sat and talked with Sharon in her bedroom.
That same night Charles 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…
Sharon and her unborn son were killed shortly after midnight on August 9, 1969. Sharon’s unborn son was named Paul Richard Polanski. Sharon’s tombstone bears both Paul’s name and her own. Sharon and her son are buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California, beside her mother and sister.
The last book Sharon read was Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” which she convinced Roman Polanski would make a great film one day. Polanski’s film Tess (1979) is dedicated simply “For Sharon”.