Name: Thomas John Kummer
AKA: Jay Sebring (Professional Name)
Date of Birth: 10/10/1933
Date of Death: 08/09/1969
Place of Birth: Birmingham, Alabama
Place of Death: Cielo Drive, Los Angeles
Cause of Death: Gunshot and Multiple Stab Wounds
Place of Burial: Southfield, Michigan
Documents: Autopsy Report
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Sebring was the son of an accountant, Bernard Kummer, and his wife Margarette. He grew up with one brother and two sisters in a middle class home in Southfield, Michigan.
After graduating from Southfield High School in 1951, Sebring joined the Navy for four years, and during this time served in the Korean War. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he changed his name to Jay Sebring: Jay, after the first initial of his middle name, and Sebring after the famous Florida car race.
Sebring was considered a lady’s man and took numerous women to his residence in the Hollywood Hills. Sebring had a fetish, he loved to tie women up with a small sash cord and if they agreed, he would whip them, after which he would undress them and have sex. He was a well-known user of cocaine, staying high on the drug most of the time.
Sebring put on a big front, living in a large house with a butler, an expensive foreign car and at times hosting expensive parties. It is believed that all of these actions were to impress potential backers of his corporation. During the homicide investigation detectives discovered that in fact Sebring’s capital resources were “very limited.”
At a time when barbers charged $1 or $2 for a haircut, Sebring charged $25 to $50 and more. His clients included Warren Beatty, Steve McQueen, Jim Morrison, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, and Henry Fonda. Sebring flew to Las Vegas once a month to cut Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr’s Hair. At Kirk Douglas’ request, Sebring did the hair-styling for the movie Spartacus.
Jay received Martial Arts lessons from Bruce Lee. Sebring passed a videotape of Lee on to a client , William Dozier, the producer of the television show Batman. Dozier gave Lee the part of Kato on the Green Hornet which set off Bruce’s acting career.
Sebring himself had occasional acting roles. One was a cameo in a Batman episode where he played the part of Mr. Oceanbring, a character based upon himself. Sebring also appeared in a 1967 episode of The Virginian, playing a frontier barber.
The House With a Dark History
Sebring was fascinated by a house on 9860 Easton Drive in Benedict Canyon. The house had a dark history. Sebring purchased the home in 1963 in part because of its dark Hollywood history. Sharon Tate often visited the house and even lived at the house for some time.
The house once belonged to famed actress Jean Harlow and MGM producer Paul Bern. On September 5, 1932, Paul Bern killed himself in the house. Paul Bern was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head and what appeared to be a suicide note. The official cause of death was ruled a suicide but there have long been rumors that Bern’s death was actually a murder staged to look like a suicide.
Three more people would die at the house, two other people committed suicide in the Easton Drive home and one person drowned in the pool.
Sebring was introduced to Sharon Tate at a party in Los Angeles in 1964. They fell in love and started dating. The relationship lasted for about two years. Tate 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.
Tate ended her relationship with Sebring over the phone. Sebring immediately traveled to London to win her back, however Tate decided to be with Polanski. Eventually Sebring and Polanski became friends. After Jay 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. Polanski would later say that despite Sebring’s lifestyle, he was a very lonely person, who regarded Tate and Polanski as his family.
On the night of August 8, 1969, Jay Sebring took Sharon, Abigail Folger and Wojciech Frykowski to dinner at a Mexican restaurant, El Coyote. When the four returned to Cielo Drive, Wojciech fell asleep on the living room couch, Abigail went to her bedroom to read a book and Sharon and Jay went to the master 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.
Watkins, Atkins and Krenwinkel entered the Cielo Drive residence just after midnight. 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 protested to the rough treatment of the pregnant Tate. He was then shot by Watson, who kicked him several times in the face, breaking his nose and eye socket. Watson then stabbed Sebring seven times.
Jay Sebring died defending the woman he loved.
Funerals for Tate and Sebring took place on the same day. Steve McQueen gave the eulogy at Sebring’s funeral.
Sebring is buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield, Michigan.